Prior to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Jonathan Metzer was successful in persuading the First-tier Tribunal that asylum should be granted to a 19 year old Kurdish appellant from a village in the Kirkuk Governorate in northern Iraq.

The Appellant entered the UK in November 2018, having fled after his father and two of his elder brothers were kidnapped by unknown armed men. Whilst he did not expect to be specifically targeted himself, he feared suffering violence at the hands of Islamic State (IS) forces or members of Hasdi Al Shabi (HAS), also known as the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), an umbrella organisation of mainly Shia militia groups sponsored by the Iraqi government.

According to new Country Guidance promulgated in December (SMO, KSP & IM (Article 15(c); identity documents) Iraq CG [2019] UKUT 00400 (IAC)), the Kirkuk Governorate is presently being actively contested between the Government of Iraq and the Independent Kurdistan Region. The Guidance also indicates that there is reason to believe that IS forces are operating close to the Appellant’s home village and the fact that he came from a rural area also raises the level of risk.

The Tribunal found that as a young, male, Sunni Kurd, the Appellant was at a significantly increased level of risk of serious harm if sent to his home area. Further, it would not be reasonable to expect him to relocate within the Formerly Contested Areas or the Disputed Territories as he would lack any support network, he has no employable skills and he would have originated from an area with a noted IS presence. Finally, it was not reasonable for him to move to Baghdad, as he does not speak Arabic and would have no support there either.

Therefore, the claim for Humanitarian Protection was allowed under Article 15(c) of the Qualification Directive on the basis that there was “a serious and individual threat to a civilian’s life or person by [reason] of indiscriminate violence in situations of international or internal armed conflict”. The Appellant was since granted this status by the Home Office.

Jonathan was instructed by Kaweh Beheshtizadeh of Fadiga and Co.