Denmark wants to send some of its Syrian refugees back

For the reason that Syrian uprisings started in 2011, Bashar Al-Assad’s regime has dedicated a number of human rights abuses, together with the reported mass use of chemical weapons and the slaughter of 1000’s of detainees, in a civil battle that’s left virtually 400,000 individuals useless. Throughout that point, 5.5 million individuals have been pressured to discover houses elsewhere on the earth, primarily in bordering international locations—however some in Europe. A comparatively small quantity ended up in Denmark, the place they’ve been rebuilding lives and contributing to the financial system. Now, Denmark wants to send some of them back.

The present Danish authorities, which gained energy in 2019 by balancing left-wing financial insurance policies with a particularly anti-immigration stance, is the primary nation to begin the method of repatriating Syrian nationals. The federal government causes that circumstances have improved sufficient in components of Syria that it’s secure for refugees to return, and that the safety standing was at all times non permanent. However the Danes’ actions have attracted opposition from human rights teams and fellow EU governments, who say they threaten to uproot a newly settled individuals by sending them back to a county that’s in no form to obtain them.

“Denmark is de facto locking the doorways for refugees,” says Lisa Blinkenberg, senior advisor at Amnesty International Denmark. “Many of them have been effectively built-in into Danish society, and now they don’t know something about their future.”

Of the 32,000 asylum seekers granted settlement in Denmark, some have been granted solely non permanent keep, not full refugee standing below the UNHCR Convention’s definition. That was an intentional resolution by the newly elected authorities, which mentioned that solely very particular private threats within the residence nation could be a situation for granting extra everlasting stays. “It won’t be sufficient to say, I’m risking my life as a result of I come from this half of Syria,” Blinkenberg says.


As quickly as the federal government was put in in 2019, it began reviewing—and revoking—residence permits. However in June 2020 the federal government printed new “fact-finding stories” that asserted that circumstances in Damascus had improved. In response, the Danish Immigration Service director, Mattias Tesfaye, directed authorities to expedite the reviewing. In February 2021, the checks have been expanded to Syrians from the outer communities round Damascus, the so-called Rif area.

The quantity of individuals from Damascus and its environment who have been granted the non permanent standing is assumed to be about 900, in accordance to Amnesty Worldwide. Between January 2020 and April 2021, the Danish Immigration Service determined to revoke the permits of 380 Syrians—together with 94 simply in March this 12 months. These individuals have then been allowed to go earlier than the Danish Refugee Appeals Board to plead their case, however the ones who lose are despatched to one of two “return facilities,” the place the refugees are relocated. They’re allowed to come and go (they need to verify in as soon as a day), however usually are not legally allowed to work, attend faculty, or apply for advantages. Denmark says it won’t forcibly deport any Syrian residents, as a result of the departure should be voluntary; the concept is that the unsustainable life-style within the return facilities will pressurize them to self-deport. “They’re saying you’ll now not have a dignified life in Denmark,” Blinkenberg says.,

Danish police escort a household from Syria searching for asylum in Denmark after discovering them whereas checking the identification papers of passengers on a prepare arriving from Germany on January 6, 2016 in Padborg, Denmark. [Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images]

Denmark has been on the forefront of the wave of anti-immigrant-fueled populism that grown more prominent across European politics. The earlier, conservative administration handed a string of Islamophobic laws, together with a 2016 “jewelry bill,” which permits officers to strip immigrants of their objects of private worth, to be reallocated into advantages funds; and banned Muslim face coverings in public. Then, the left-wing opposition, taking be aware of the successes, ran a marketing campaign combining left-wing economics and anti-immigration coverage. Very quickly, the Social Democrats, led by Mette Frederiksen, adopted by way of on its guarantees, making a plan to demolish all “ghettos,” a coded time period for Muslim-majority neighborhoods, by 2030.

All the foundation for the acceleration of allow critiques is Denmark’s declare that circumstances in Syria at the moment are match for return. Replying to a letter from Amnesty Worldwide from January 2021, which was shared with Quick Firm, Tesfaye wrote: “A keep as a refugee is barely non permanent; it’s a very fundamental situation of the Danish refugee system. When the necessity for defense ceases to exist, one ought to journey residence and assist with the reconstruction of one’s homeland.” He burdened that it was not pressured deportation. “Danish authorities will proceed to help individuals in Denmark with arranging voluntary returns to Syria and supply monetary help in case of such return.” (Thus far, about 250 Syrians have reportedly left with “a bag of cash” of $28,150.)

Although energetic battle primarily stopped in Damascus round Might 2018,  Amnesty Worldwide says the area remains to be very unsafe. UN Secretary-Normal Antonio Guterres mentioned “the state of affairs stays a living nightmare.” There are nonetheless 6.7 million internally displaced individuals within the nation, the bulk of whom are going through meals insecurity, and 90% reside on $1 per day.

Financial fears apart, there are nonetheless ongoing dangers of arbitrary detention, torture, army conscription, harassment, and discrimination. That’s in accordance to a joint statement this month from specialists, analysts and researchers who the federal government contacted for its fact-finding stories. The group says that the federal government used their solutions deceptively and out of context to kind the idea for its “flawed refugee insurance policies.” These specialists, 11 of the 12 sources contacted by the federal government, referred to as on Denmark to reverse its insurance policies, including that returns, in accordance to worldwide legislation often called non-refoulement, should be “voluntary, secure, and dignified.”

Now, says Blinkenberg, Syrians reside in limbo after being settled for years. Excessive schoolers are involved they might not even have the opportunity to full their remaining 12 months. Amnesty Worldwide is asking for world motion, and has began an urgent action campaign the place individuals can lend their signatures to the trigger. Thirty-three EU lawmakers from 12 international locations additionally signed a letter addressed to Denmark, writing: “Deportations to a rustic at battle must not ever be regular. Denmark shouldn’t take a vanguard function right here.”


The concern is that, as anti-immigrant sentiment will increase in Europe, Denmark’s actions might set a deadly precedent that might take root in different international locations, particularly amongst institution events that could possibly be impressed by the “profitable system” of the Social Democrats, says Susi Meret, an affiliate professor of politics at Aalborg College. says. In spite of everything, Germany and Sweden have taken in much more Syrian asylum seekers than Denmark. Blinkenberg agrees: “We’re actually fearing that this can have a domino impact.”