“I left Afghanistan around five years ago to Belgium. And when I arrived in Belgium, I literally [didn’t] know anyone here, nothing about society. And I was curious to know, “What’s happening here on the situation of asylum and asylum policies, and who is deciding on my future?” And I started attending a number of events, conferences, on the refugee issue because back then, in 2015 and 2016, the issue of refugees was very hot in Europe. And then, I realized that you hardly see speakers, a representative, or a refugee themselves speaking in such panels, in such events. And this was, I think, something that not only me, but also pushed other refugee activists and advocates to start advocating for their inclusion in the policies, the view should be included, that their recommendation should be included in the very policies that are affecting and shaping their future and their lives.”

My name is Reshad Jalali. I was born in Afghanistan and currently live in Belgium and work as policy officer at the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE). Prior to this position, I was involved with advocacy activities for refugees and asylum seekers by working with refugee rights, non-profits, and refugee-led organizations. I have a master’s degree in international relations with a specialization in the role of the European Union in the protection and promotion of human rights from Liverpool Hope University in the United Kingdom. Prior to my master’s degree, I studied for a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Delhi in India. In addition, I followed several courses related to human rights and refugee rights, including a summer school on the European Union Law and Policy on Immigration and Asylum at the Université Libre de Bruxelles.