The line that refugee status is of a purely ‘civilian and humanitarian’ character cannot be strictly maintained. It has become commonplace to point out the dangers posed to the general refugee population due to the presence of combatants in or within the proximity of a refugee camp, where a separation of civilian and non-civilian elements may indeed be deemed necessary. Forgoing the scholarship pertaining to the context of the refugee camp, which has absorbed most of the attention in this area, this paper will focus on the de jure legitimacy of a combatant seeking asylum, particularly away from the conflict zone. In light of this, there is a firm need to redraw the distinctions in this area and to account for the lack of dependence to and deference of international refugee law towards humanitarian law. There remain definitional and interpretative complexities that prevent a clear implementation of rules, particularly in non-international armed conflict. While the concern in not tarnishing asylum regimes is a legitimate one, it must be admitted that losing sight of the individuality and diversity of combatants and their motive, as occurs in the current discourse, is also erosive of protection needs and political rights, primarily the right to self-determination.
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