A Government scheme to resettle refugees from war-torn Syria has been challenged at the High Court by Palestinians excluded from consideration.
Lawyers acting for three Palestinians living in a refugee camp in Lebanon say the Government’s Vulnerable Person Resettlement Scheme (VPRS) is unlawful because it does not consider for resettlement Palestinians who fled Syrian camps.
That is because Palestinian refugees currently in areas of operation of the United Nations Works and Relief Agency (UNWRA), including Jordan and Lebanon, are not allowed to register with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).
Mr Raza Husain QC said the Government relies solely on the UNHCR to identify and refer the most vulnerable refugees, so could not consider Palestinians.
Husain, whose clients include a 16-year old with significant health problems, told Mrs Justice Elisabeth Laing that the Government’s approach “continues to be inaccessible to and discriminatory against Palestinians”.
There were 570,000 Palestinian refugees in Syria before the outbreak of the war, but an estimated 120,000 have fled since the conflict began. About 45,000 are registered in Lebanon, 16,000 in Jordan, 8,000 in Turkey and 4,000 in Egypt.
The Government denied that its process was discriminatory and a ruling is due to be delivered at a later date.