2.1. UNHCR Handbook on Procedures and Criteria for Determining Refugee Status

"The fear of being persecuted need not always extend to the whole territory of the refugee’s country of nationality…persecution may occur in only one part of the country. In such situations, a person will not be excluded from refugee status merely because he could have sought refuge in another part of the same country, if under all the circumstances it would not have been reasonable to expect him to do so."

2.2. UNHCR Overview of Protection Issues (1995)

"The underlying assumption justifying the application of ‘internal flight alternative’ is that the state authorities are willing to protect the rights of the individual concerned but are being prevented from or otherwise are unable to assure such protection in certain areas of the country. Therefore the notion should not, in principle, be applied in situations where the person is fleeing persecution from state authorities, even if the same authorities may refrain from persecution in other parts of the country."

"The discussion about the contents of the protection available in an internal flight alternative have primarily focused on the aspects relating to physical safety. However, other aspects must also be taken into consideration. Protection must be meaningful. A person should not be excluded from refugee status merely because he could have sought refuge in another part of the same country, if under all the circumstances it would not have been reasonable to expect him to do so. In addition to security aspects, this would require that basic civil, political and socio-economic human rights of the individual would be accepted. Questions of an economic nature, such as access to suitable employment, are not strictly relevant to the availability of protection, although the inability to survive elsewhere in the country may be another compelling reason to grant international protection.

Another consideration in assessing the qualification of ‘reasonable’ includes an evaluation of the subjective circumstances surrounding the alleged persecution, such as the depth and quality of the fear itself. In some situations the subjective fear may be so great that the applicant, quite understandingly, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of his or her country regardless of the absence of real danger elsewhere in the country. This must remain a persuasive factor in the overall claim."


"Where it appears that persecution is clearly confined to a specific part of a country’s territory, it may be necessary, in order to check that the condition laid down in Article 1A of the Geneva Convention has been fulfilled, namely that the person concerned "is unable or, owing to such fear (of persecution), is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country", to ascertain whether the person concerned cannot find effective protection in another part of his own country, to which he may be reasonably expected to move."





4.1. Guy Goodwin-Gill

4.2. James Hathaway

4.3. Gaetan de Moffarts







5.1. Australia

5.2. Austria

Recourse to the Austrian Federal Administrative Court is possible against a denied appeal by the Federal Minister of the Interior. If the Administrative Court finds a violation of procedural law, it remits the case back to the Federal Minister for reconsideration. Decisions by the Administrative Court do not, therefore, consider the merits of the asylum claim itself. It would appear from the cases discussed below that the Administrative Court will refer an applicant’s case back to the Federal Minister where the Federal Minister has wrongly interpreted the facts, has based the possibility of internal flight on suppositions or has failed to take into account all the circumstances of the case. Despite the fact that the Administrative Court does not consider the merits of asylum claims, important conclusions with regard to the internal flight alternative concept can be drawn from its remittal of the claims.

5.3. Belgium

5.4. Canada

  1. Denmark

5.6. Finland

5.7. France

5.8. Germany

5.9. Hungary

5.10. Luxembourg

5.11. The Netherlands

internal flight is excluded if the national authorities are the agent of the persecution: ARRvS, 2 September 1982, RV 1982, 4, ARRvS, 14 September 1988, RO2.86.1433 A+B, ARRvS 8 June 1993, GV (oud) D12-232). Similarly, in the recent case of AWB 96/6210, 25 June 1997, the Court of Zwolle rejected the government submission that the applicant, a Muslim of the Sandjak region who was fleeing persecution from the Serbian authorities, could avail himself of an internal flight alternative in Belgrade or "other parts of the Former Yugoslavia."

5.12. New Zealand

  1. Portugal

5.14. Spain

5.15. Sweden

5.16. Switzerland

5.17. United Kingdom

5.17.1. Interpretation by the courts

5.17.2. Paragraph 343 of HC 395

"If there is a part of the country from which the applicant claims to be a refugee in which he would not have a well-founded fear of persecution and to which it would be reasonable to expect him to go, the application may be refused."

As Dr. Hugo Storey points out, however, the "precise ambit and effect" of Paragraph 343 is not clear. Moreover, the rule is cast in discretionary terms.


5.17.3. Interpretation by the Immigration Appeal Tribunal

Where an appellant is found to be a Convention refugee but it is suggested that it is safe to return him to a particular part of the country to which he fears to return, it appears to us that an adjudicator needs to ask two questions:

having regard to all circumstances of the case?

"[The test is not] ‘what a reasonable person should be expected to do’. This is to wholly misunderstand the subject matter. The test is what is reasonable in the particular circumstances of the specific individual whose case is under consideration. The focus is not on the hypothetical reasonable person, but on what is reasonable in the particular (ie subjective) circumstances of the specific individual claimant."

5.18. United States of America

In assessing the risk of persecution, the authorities will have regard to the possibility of evading persecution by moving to another part of the country.