In partnership with the Refugee-Led Research Hub (RLRH) at the University of Oxford, PILnet is pleased to announce the launch of the pilot PILnet-RLRH Legal Fellowship Program. This program is designed to give legal advocates with lived experience of displacement an opportunity to contribute to the PILnet’s work to utilize the law and engage its global legal network to advance access to rights, justice, and solutions for forcibly displaced people. We welcome the first two Fellows to PILnet:

Lidya Tewelde is a lawyer who previously worked as an Assistant Execution Officer and Judicial Assistant in Eritrea. Having experienced forced displacement herself, Lidya has undertaken research on Refugee-Led Organizations (RLOs) in Africa and the Middle East as a consultant for LERRN at Carleton University. Lidya currently lives in Ethiopia with a refugee status and will begin an MSc in Refugee and Forced Migration Studies at the University of Oxford in October 2023.

Follow Lidya on twitter @lidyathabtay!


Salah Jawish is originally from Sudan and has been living in Egypt for ten years. Since 2019, he led the legal support program at Tafawol, an RLO in Cairo, working to provide legal advocacy and protection for refugees and vulnerable migrants across Greater Cairo. Salah envisions a world where refugees and people of forced displacement aren’t just at the table, they are leading the conversations and driving decision-making.

Follow Salah on twitter @Sjawish85!


The PILnet-RLRH Legal Fellowship program supports Fellows with lived experience of displacement to learn about and contribute to PILnet’s work to utilize the law and engage its global legal network to advance access to rights, justice, and solutions for forcibly displaced people. Drawing upon PILnet’s long history of hosting public interest legal fellows and RLRH’s model for academic pathways to leadership, this program seeks to provide experiential and structured learning and leadership opportunities for entry-to-mid level legal advocates and to support onward career pathways in the legal, non-profit, and academic sectors for people with lived experience of displacement.

PILnet’s Co-Executive Director, Julia Mayerhofer, shared:

I am excited to welcome Lidya and Salah as our first two PILnet-RLRH Legal Fellows at PILnet. Over the coming months they will work alongside PILnet staff to scope the legal needs of refugee communities and refugee-led organizations (RLOs). This is another step in PILnet’s journey to embed meaningful refugee participation into our work and hiring practices. I am looking forward to their contributions on how we can build more refugee-centered pro bono models!

Julia Nduta Oduol, who manages RLRH’s professional placements programming, says: 

RLRH is incredibly excited to be collaborating with PILnet on developing this fellowship program. We support individuals that have experienced displacement to become leaders in the specific fields they choose. Legal aid for refugees and RLOs is something that we are constantly asked about and attempting to influence through collaborations like this. We hope these fellowship positions are able to influence the legal community globally and to start a really exciting conversation and set of changes in refugee leadership and law.”

The pilot Fellowship Program was made possible thanks to seed funding from RLRH. PILnet and RLRH are seeking sustainable funding to scale the program and provide 2-4 Legal Fellowship opportunities annually. If you are interested in learning more about the Fellowship, please contact Jasmine Simperigham, Global Coordinator – Forced Displacement, [email protected].