The EFRR began providing legal aid to refugees in 2008. Historically, the majority of refugee legal aid services in Egypt have been provided by non-refugees and Egyptian non-nationals. The EFRR was preceded in its work by various organisations providing legal aid related to status determination and resettlement issues. Advocating for, appealing to and liaising with the UNHCR, an international entity, was the main focus of many of the first legal aid organizations in Egypt. This was primarily because they were spearheaded and run by lawyers from outside of Egypt who were, in those cases, using international law to advocate in English for revisions to status determinations or resettlement cases. Egyptian presence in the refugee legal aid sphere remained almost nonexistent for many years.
EFRR was the first legal aid programme to hire Egyptian lawyers and focus exclusively on the provision of legal representation in Egyptian government proceedings, including in judicial and administrative proceedings. It remains one of the very few organizations to maintain this focus, and is therefore uniquely positioned not only to provide legal protection to refugees who continue to be arbitrarily detained in increasing numbers, but to advocate for refugee rights over time through relying upon and thereby bolstering international and domestic laws that protect refugees.