StARS Organizational Development and Legal Support Initiative

Project completed

St.Andrew’s Refugee Services (StARS) provides educational, legal, psychosocial services to a total of 19,000 refugees and migrants. With the shrinking number of refugee service providers and the increasing numbers of transit refugees and migrants, StARS expanded its services in 2015, to cover legal support and meet the growing gap of needs. This project aims to improve protection services for the most vulnerable refugees and migrants by developing StARS’ organizational capacity and strengthen internal mechanisms.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Legal and judicial development
01.09.2016 - 31.08.2019
CHF 310'000
  •  As of February 2016 UNHCR had registered 179,200 asylum seekers and refugees in Egypt, including 119,300 Syrians, 27,851 Sudanese, 6,231 Somalis, 6,908 Iraqis, 6,916 Ethiopians, 4,166 South Sudanese, and 3,763 Eritreans. Registration by UNHCR of non-Syrian refugees increased by 65 percent in 2015 compared to 2014 as more are transiting through Egypt to cross the Mediterranean.
  • Due to Government imposed controls over Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and cuts in refugee assistance, UNCHR has reduced the number of its implementing partners, which affected refugees’ access to basic services, financial and medical assistance.
  • For UNHCR this resulted in serving, only 26,000 Syrian refugees for cash assistance in 2015, down from 56,000 in 2014, additionally, the WFP food voucher dropped by 40% in value.
  • The highly securitized environment in Egypt; namely in terms of strict border management;  is also imposing a number of legal protection risks on the refugees. Since the beginning of 2015, several refoulement incidents of unaccompanied refugee children have been reported as well as the refoulement of a UNHCR-registered Syrian activist.
  • Refugees are exposed to harrassment, including verbal and physical harassment, assault, gender based violence, and other forms of abuse. The situation is exacerbated with the absence of a functioning police response.
  • In terms of legal service, there are no pro-bono legal aid providers nor sufficient local actors providing legal protection.
  • Other gaps in legal services include access to legal counseling and assistance to register with UNHCR and apply for resetllement to a third country. This particularly essential in light of the absence of a national assylum system which is not foreseen as a Government priority in the long-term.

To improve protection services for the most vulnerable refugees and migrants in Cairo

Target groups

Direct target groups:

  • 15,300 individuals (5,100 per year) through the legal department; services will include one-on-one legal advice, referrals from refugee service providers and CBOs, cases referred to UNHCR for resettlement, individuals provided with advice in regards to refugee status determination per year. Assistance will also be provided to females who faced Sexual and Gender Based Violence. 
  •  125 full- and part-time STARS staff will directly benefit from strengthened organizational capacity, increased collaboration between programs, implementation of a new case management system, and improved physical infrastructure 

Indirect target groups:

  • 44,379 individuals (14,793 each year) through enhanced service provision in education and psychosocial programs
Medium-term outcomes
  1. To improve provision of direct legal services to the most vulnerable refugees and migrants in Cairo
  2. To support StARS organizational and human resource development

Expected results:  

1.1 Cases facing protection issues (including difficulty securing official records such as birth, marriage and death certificates, lack of physical safety and security, and other issues related to lack of local integration) are advised on a one-on-one basis and through awareness sessions by the Refugee Legal Aid Program proceedings relating to protection needs


1.2 Cases facing protection issues  are advised or represented by the Refugee Legal Aid Program in refugee status determination and resettlement.


2.1 Improve StARS’ internal management policies, procedures, and data management


2.2 Improve StARS’ physical infrastructure

Directorate/federal office responsible SDC
Credit area Humanitarian aid
Project partners Contract partner
International or foreign NGO

Other partners

US Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (BPRM), OHCHR and St Andrew's United Church

Coordination with other projects and actors

The project will create synergies with other SDC funded projects: UNHCR/Caritas Alexandria and PSTIC Emergency Irregular Migration.

Budget Current phase Swiss budget CHF   310'000 Swiss disbursement to date CHF   256'795 Total project since first phase Budget inclusive project partner CHF  310'000
Project phases

Phase 1 01.09.2016 - 31.08.2019   (Completed)