Today the administrative judiciary body of Dutch Council of State (the highest judge in asylum cases) rendered its decision on the right to asylum for Palestinians from the Gaza strip.

The situation in the Gaza strip has been deemed to be 'unlivable' by many human rights organizations, including the United Nations itself.  Even so, the State of the Netherlands refused to grant asylum to a Palestinian from the Gaza strip who had fled from the strip due to the unlivable situation there.  The argument given was that the UN-organization UNRWA provides aid and assistance there, so that a minimum standards of living can be ensured. On 21 August 2020, the district court of Amsterdam held that help from UNRWA is insufficient and that a residential permit on the basis of asylum ought to be granted. The Dutch State appealed that decision.

The Council of State has now ruled that the Dutch State has not properly justified its position that the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East ('UNRWA') can ensure living conditions in the Gaza strip that are consistent with its mission, the latter being the legal criterion for the granting of asylum. Naming what the minimal aid is in terms of the basic needs of Palestinian refugees such as food water, shelter and the opportunity to receive education, is not enough. The State still needs to demonstrate that the aid provided by UNRWA is indeed sufficient, and what the applicable standard is in that respect. The key sentence from the ruling is (freely translated): 'By simply listing which form of assistance UNRWA still offers to Palestinian refugees according to him, the State Secretary has not sufficiently explained how he assessed the country-information submitted by the foreign national in relation to the question of whether UNRWA is able to provide living conditions in the Gaza strip that are consistent with its mission.'

The Council of State has now ordered the State of the Netherlands decide on the Palestinian's request for asylum again within 14 weeks. In the proceedings so far, the Dutch State has failed to demonstrate that the UNRWA can guarantee a liveable situation in the Gaza strip.  The question is whether that will be possible in the future.

This case is being handled by lawyer Marq Wijngaarden.  The decision by the Council of State can be accessed here (in Dutch).

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