(CN) – Refugees fleeing hostilities in Palestine qualify for United Nations aid, but only if they seek it, the European Court of Justice ruled.
The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees provides assistance to Palestinians who lost their homes and livelihood as a result of the 1948 conflict that created the state of Israel.
The relief extends to their descendents as well, and applies to displaced Palestinians in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
The European high court, based in Luxembourg, also noted that the Geneva Convention applies to such refugees.
The case revolved around Nawras Bolbol, a Palestinian woman who arrived to Hungary with her husband on a visa, seeking asylum on the basis of dangerous conditions in the Gaza Strip caused by political conflicts between Hamas and Fatah.
Hungary refused the application, claiming Bolbol was not automatically entitled to refugee status, also that she was not eligible since she was not personally persecuted in Palestine.
The court ruled that although such political strife entitles Palestinians to assistance, they must avail themselves of such assistance while still in the conflict zone.
The court said that although Bolbol claimed she could have applied for UN assistance while still in the Gaza Strip. Since she had not, the special UN rules do not necessarily apply to her.
The situations of Palestinians merely eligible for assistance from the international organization, but who have not sought it out while in applicable Middle East countries, should otherwise be decided on a case-by-case basis, the EU court determined.