This case concerns a stateless Palestinian who grew up in a refugee camp in Lebanon, the Ein El-Hilweh camp, before applying for asylum in the Netherlands. The Court considered that the general information submitted shows a substantial deterioration in the situation for Palestinian stateless people in Lebanon and in particular in the Ein El-Hilweh camp. The Court found that the Secretary of State’s decision was flawed and that it must reconsider the application considering relevant factors, including whether UNRWA’s support met minimum requirements. An appeal is pending.
Article 1D of the Refugee Convention
The applicant grew up in a refugee camp in Lebanon. The Netherlands Secretary of State rejected his first application for asylum, in part because he found aspects of the applicant’s claim not credible and considered that the applicant had failed to establish that he could not, for a reason beyond his control, access the protection or assistance of UNRWA; thus, he was excluded under Article 1D. The applicant subsequently made a new application, which the Secretary of State rejected on the basis that it did not present new information. The applicant appealed this decision.
On appeal, the Court of the Hague observed that the later application provided information showing a deterioration of the conditions in Ein El-Hilweh camp and for Palestinians in Lebanon more generally, in part due to COVID-19 and a major explosion in Lebanon in August 2020. The Court observed that Palestinians in Lebanon were increasingly reliant on UNRWA as their sole source of support and that UNRWA’s precarious funding situation was relevant to the applicant’s case. The Court also observed that pursuant to the CJEU decision in Germany v XT, both UNRWA’s ability to provide protection or assistance commensurate with its mission and the applicant’s ability to actually enter an UNRWA field of operation were relevant considerations. There was evidence indicating that return might be impossible:
“Since the Lebanese elections in May 2018, [Palestinian refugees from Lebanon] living abroad without a [Lebanese] residence permit cannot obtain travel documents from the Lebanese authorities. Their return to Lebanon is stalled.”
The Court found that the Secretary of State’s decision was flawed and that it must reconsider the application considering relevant factors, including whether UNRWA’s support met minimum requirements.
The Secretary of State appealed the decision relating to the necessity to assess the applicant’s ability to gain access to Lebanon. This appeal is pending before the Council of State.