Palestinian who fled 'violent' Lebanon refugee camp loses UK asylum bid

Man claimed he fled to Britain after extremists in Ain El Hilweh tried to recruit him to fight

The Palestinian asylum seeker had arrived in the UK after fleeing violence in Ain El Hilweh refugee camp, Lebanon. Reuters
Powered by automated translation

A Palestinian asylum seeker who claimed he was encouraged to fight for extremist groups at a refugee camp in Lebanon has lost his legal battle to stay in the UK.

The man, who can’t be named for legal reasons, was born in the Ain El Hilweh refugee camp and was injured when he was caught up in fighting between rival factions in 2015.

He claimed rival paramilitary groups tried to recruit him to fight for them. He fled the camp for Britain in 2017 after another outbreak of violence.

Clashes erupted when representatives of several of the largest Palestinian factions, including Fatah, ordered the Islamist fighter Bilal Badr and his followers to hand themselves over to authorities or face a crack down.

Violence was renewed in September resulting in 10 deaths, after 13 were killed in July in fighting between Fatah and Islamist groups.

When he arrived in the UK, the Palestinian man claimed asylum and said two groups had tried to recruit him, according to court documents.

“They would force me to go and kill somebody, they could force me to take part in a fight,” he told Home Office officials.

Having been asked five or six times to join extremists, he said on the first two or three occasions he had refused they had asked him to reconsider but thereafter the paramilitaries “started recruiting me in a deceiving, covert way, not very obvious”.

When his asylum claim was rejected in 2018 and after exhausting all appeals in the UK, he went to the European Court of Human Rights in a bid to avoid deportation.

The UK government said his claim was “found not to be credible” and despite being approached by the paramilitary groups and refusing to be coerced, he had “suffered no adverse consequences”.

Judges said “there was no evidence of any serious harm to the applicant if returned" to the Ain El Hilweh camp in Lebanon "on account of attempts to recruit him to extremist armed groups”.

The man’s deportation to Lebanon would not breach the European Convention on Human Rights, the court said.

The UN says it houses almost 55,000 registered Palestinian refugees, but thousands of Palestinians who have fled the civil war in neighbouring Syria also live there. The camp falls outside the jurisdiction of the Lebanese security forces.

Palestinian factions within the camp are responsible for security and disputes and clashes between them are not uncommon.

Most of the street battles have pitted Fatah against Jund Al Sham and its affiliates.

Updated: December 05, 2023, 1:52 PM