IRRC No. 265

ICRC action in aid of refugees

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The refugee does not enjoy special protection in IHL except in several provisions which will be considered below, nor is there any particular definition of a refugee as a person protected by IHL. The refugee is above all a civilian person and is protected as such by the relevant provisions of IHL. The sole criterion, for the purposes of the Fourth Geneva Convention, is in fact the absence of protection by any government. The term “refugee” is thus given a broad connotation. In international public law there are two defined categories of refugee, to which a third category is usually added by analogy.

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