The Refugee Legal Aid Program (RLAP) provides information, counseling, referral, representation, and advocacy for asylum seekers and refugees in Egypt. International law and local regulations can be confusing and daunting for displaced people. Our legal team works to help individuals and communities understand their rights and responsibilities within the law, to identify and assist refugees with serious and urgent needs, and to support refugees through UNHCR processes including refugee status determination, protection, and resettlement.
RLAP works with StARS education program students and psychosocial clients. It also works with families and individuals referred to StARS by partners, and refugees who approach our office directly with urgent needs. Our legal staff and volunteer legal advisors conduct needs assessments with potential clients to determine what legal and other assistance is required. Then, they make sure that clients are aware of all resources available that may help their situations, and that they are able to access those resources. We also distribute general information on refugee services available in Egypt, along with written explanations of legal standards and procedures that are key to the lives of refugees, including basic information on refugee status determination.
When appropriate, and when additional legal assistance is likely to make an important and positive difference in the lives of our clients, RLAP provides full representation in the refugee status determination, protection, or resettlement process. This work may include preparing a case history and client testimony, and collecting all necessary documents and evidence in support of the case, and then providing legal arguments in support of the claim or request for action. RLAP then follows up on the case and works with UNHCR, IOM, resettlement countries, and others to ensure that the client’s case is progressing, that there is adequate communication between the client and decision-makers, and that the many potential challenges and intricacies of case processing are understood and overcome.
Another important part of RLAP’s work is community education. We conduct workshops with refugee community-based organizations and partner service providers to demystify the stages of the asylum process from claiming refugee status through potential resettlement or other durable solution and explain what rules apply and who is eligible for consideration at each stage.