Denmark has gone far-right on refugees – POLITICO

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  • Denmark declares parts of Syria safe, pressuring refugees to return

    Denmark has stripped 94 Syrian refugees of their residency permits after declaring that Damascus and the surrounding area were safe. The Scandinavian nation is the first EU country to say that law-abiding refugees can be sent back to Syria.

    In Denmark, 94 Syrian refugees were stripped of their temporary residence permits, various British media reported this week. The move comes after the Danish government decided to extend the area of Syria it considers safe to include the Rif Dimashq Governorate – an area that includes the capital Damascus.

    According to the news platform Arab News, the Danish government said the 94 people will be sent to Danish deportation camps, but will not be forced to leave. Human rights groups however fear that the refugees will feel pressured to leave, even though their return is voluntary.

    The Danish immigration minister, Mattias Tesfaye, insisted last month that the Scandinavian country had been “open and honest from the start” about the situation of Syrian refugees, according to the British daily The Telegraph. “We have made it clear to the Syrian refugees that their residence permit is temporary. It can be withdrawn if protection is no longer needed,” the newspaper quoted Tesfaye as saying.

    The minister highlighted that Denmark would offer protection as long as needed but that “when conditions in the home country improve, a former refugee should return home and re-establish a life there.”
    ’Wreckless violation of duty’

    Last December, Germany’s deportation ban to Syria expired – but the only people now eligible for deportation are Syrian nationals who committed criminal offences or those deemed to pose a serious risk to public security. Denmark is the first European Union member to say that law-abiding refugees can be sent back to Syria.

    Human rights groups have strongly criticized the new Danish policy.

    “That the Danish government is seeking to force people back into the hands of this brutal regime is an appalling affront to refugee law and people’s right to be safe from persecution,” Steve Valdez-Symonds, refugee and migrant rights director at Amnesty International UK, told The Independent.

    “This reckless violation of Denmark’s duty to provide asylum also risks increasing incentives for other countries to abandon their own obligations to Syrian refugees,” he said.

    The organization Doctors without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières, MSF) told The Independent that they assume people sent back to the Rif Dimashq Governorate would face similar challenges to the ones that people in northern Syria are facing, “given the scale and duration of the Syrian conflict ​and the impact of the war on infrastructure and the health system.”

    A member from the rights group Refugees Welcome in Denmark told The Telegraph that the 94 Syrians who had their residency permits revoked are facing years of limbo. “The government hopes that they will go voluntarily, that they will just give up and go on their own,” Michala Bendixen said. She said Syrian refugees now face a “very, very tragic situation,” and will be forced from their homes, jobs and studies and into Danish deportation camps.
    Denmark’s anti-migrant stance

    About 900 Syrian refugees from the Damascus area had their temporary protection permits reassessed in Denmark last year, according the The Independent. The latest decision to declare the Rif Dimashq area as safe will mean that a further 350 Syrian nationals (of 1,250 Syrians in the country) will have to undergo reassessment which could lead to a revocation of their protection status and residency permits.

    The ruling center-left Social Democratic Party in Denmark has taken a strong anti-migration stance since coming into office in 2019. Recently, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said she wants to aim for “zero” asylum seekers applying to live in Denmark.

    Denmark last year saw the lowest number of asylum seekers since 1998, with 1,547 people applying.

    https://www.infomigrants.net/en/post/30650/denmark-declares-parts-of-syria-safe-pressuring-refugees-to-return

    #safe_zones #zones_sures #zone_sure #retour_au_pays #renvois #expulsions #réfugié_syriens #Danemark

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    voir aussi cette métaliste sur le retour ("volontaire" ou non) des réfugiés syriens en Syrie :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/904710

    • Denmark has gone far-right on refugees

      Copenhagen claims Damascus is safe enough to send nearly 100 Syrians back.

      What has happened to Denmark? Once renowned as a liberal, tolerant, open-minded society with respect for human rights and a strong and humane welfare state, we have now become the first country in Europe to revoke residence permits for Syrian refugees.

      Last week, Danish authorities ruled that the security situation around Damascus has improved, despite evidence of dire living conditions and continued persecution by Bashar al-Assad’s regime. As a result, they stripped 94 refugees of their right to stay in the country. Another recently introduced proposal would move all asylum applicants outside Denmark.

      In other words, Denmark — the first country to sign the U.N. Refugee Convention in 1951 — has now adopted an asylum policy that’s less like that of its Scandinavian neighbors than of nationalist countries like Austria or Hungary.

      Thankfully, nobody is being sent back to Syria anytime soon. Under the new system, refugees have to have lived in Denmark for at least 10 years for their attachment to the country to be considered strong enough for continued residence, no matter how hard they have worked or studied. However, it’s currently impossible to deport anyone back to Syria — Denmark won’t negotiate with Assad — and very few Syrians are willing to return voluntarily. So those who lose their residency permits will likely end up in Danish camps awaiting deportation or in other European countries.

      But the fact remains that Denmark is now passing laws with obviously discriminatory purposes, with politicians on both the left and right speaking about ethnic minorities and Muslims in terms that would be unimaginable in neighboring countries. Indeed, had this law been pushed forward by a hard-right government it might not have been surprising. But Denmark is currently governed by a left-wing coalition led by the Social Democrats. What, indeed, has happened to our country?

      The answer lies in a tug of war between the Social Democrats and the far-right Danish People’s Party. Though the Danish People’s Party has never been part of a government, its representatives have spent the past two decades using their mandates for a single purpose: They only vote for bills concerning other issues if they get restrictions on foreigners in return. Step by step, the Danish People’s Party has dragged all the other parties in their direction — none more so than the Social Democrats with whom they compete for working-class voters.

      In 2001, a right-wing government made the first radical restrictions for refugees and foreigners. And while the Social Democrats first opposed it, they soon changed their strategy to fend off the challenge from the Danish People’s Party. At first, not all Social Democrats agreed to the new hard-line policy, but the party gradually came to embrace it, along with the vast majority of their voters. Today the Danish People’s Party has become almost redundant. Their policies, once denounced as racist and extreme, have now become mainstream.

      Two years ago, the government passed legislation turning the concept of refugee protection upside down: It replaced efforts at long-term integration and equal rights with temporary stays, limited rights and a focus on deportation at the earliest possibility. Paradoxically, this came at a time when Denmark received the lowest number of refugees in 30 years, and integration had been going better than ever in terms of employment, education and language skills.

      Meanwhile, the Danish Refugee Appeals Board has been stripped of its experts and cut down to only three members including an employee from the ministry of immigration, thus making it not quite as independent as the government claims, but more in line with Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen who is pursuing a goal of having “zero asylum seekers.”

      Currently, Danish politicians are discussing a bill that is even more extreme than its predecessors: a loose and imprecise plan for a contract to transfer asylum seekers who arrive in Denmark to a non-European country (most likely in Africa), where their cases will be processed. If they are granted asylum, they will stay in that third country.

      The minister says it would make the asylum system more “humane and fair,” but Danish human rights organizations and the UNHCR say it will do precisely the opposite. The plan is essentially a new form of colonialism, paying others to take care of “unwanted” persons far away from Denmark, and not accepting even a small portion of the millions of refugees in the world.

      Fortunately, it seems like the right wing is so offended by the Social Democrats co-opting and expanding their policies that they will vote against it. But if it passes, the policy could have terrible consequences for collaboration within the European Union and on the international level.

      This game has gone too far. Most Danes are not racist or against human rights and solidarity. But it’s getting hard to see how we can find our way back.

      https://www.politico.eu/article/denmark-has-gone-far-right-on-refugees
      #Damas

    • ECRE | Danemark : élargissement des lieux considérés comme “sûrs” en Syrie

      La Commission danoise de recours des réfugiés a déclaré que la situation dans le Grand Damas était assez sûr pour pouvoir penser à un retour des personnes ayant fui le pays. 350 cas de ressortissant·es de cette région vont être réévalués.

      Nous publions l’article, originellement écrit en anglais et traduit par nos soins, paru le 5 mars 2021 sur le site du Conseil européen sur les réfugiés et les exilés (ECRE) : https://www.ecre.org/denmark-authorities-widen-the-areas-of-syria-considered-safe-for-return-to-inc. Sur le même sujet, retrouvez l’article “Denmark declares part of Syria safe, pressuring refugees to return” publié le 4 mars 2021 sur Infomigrants.net : https://www.infomigrants.net/en/post/30650/denmark-declares-parts-of-syria-safe-pressuring-refugees-to-return

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      Danemark : Les autorités élargissent les zones de Syrie considérées comme sûres pour les retours

      À travers trois décisions, la Commission danoise de recours des réfugiés (Flygtningenaevnet) a déclaré que la situation dans le gouvernorat de Rif Damas (le Grand Damas) était suffisamment sûre pour un retour, élargissant, ainsi, la zone géographique considérée comme étant en sécurité par les autorités danoises. En conséquence, la portée géographique des réévaluations des cas de ressortissants syriens a été élargie pour inclure les cas du grand Damas. Des centaines de cas doivent être réévalués par la Commission de recours en 2021.

      En décembre 2019, la Commission d’appel des réfugiés a confirmé les décisions de première instance du Service danois de l’immigration de rejeter les besoins de protection de trois femmes demandeuses d’asile originaires de Syrie. Ce rejet était fondé sur une prétendue amélioration de la situation générale en matière de sécurité dans la région de Damas depuis mai 2018, date à laquelle le régime d’Assad a repris le contrôle total de la région. Depuis lors, un certain nombre de dossiers ont été traités par le Service danois de l’immigration et la Commission de recours des réfugiés, aboutissant à la révocation ou à la non prolongation des permis de séjour. En février 2020, le gouvernement social-démocrate danois a confirmé au Parlement qu’en dépit de la prétendue amélioration de la situation sécuritaire à Damas, aucun retour forcé ne serait effectué car cela impliquerait une coopération directe avec le régime. Cependant, malgré l’absence de possibilité pratique de retour forcé, le ministre de l’immigration, Mattias Tesfaye, a demandé en juin 2020 une accélération des réévaluations des cas de centaines de ressortissants syriens de la région de Damas, soit sur le controversé statut de protection subsidiaire temporaire (section 7.3 de la loi danoise sur les étrangers), soit sur le statut de protection subsidiaire (section 7.2 de la loi danoise sur les étrangers).

      Les dernières décisions de la Commission d’appel de refuser l’extension de la protection dans deux cas et de rejeter l’asile dans un cas, représentent une expansion des zones considérées comme sûres pour le retour par les autorités danoises, incluant déjà Damas mais maintenant aussi le gouvernorat environnant. Il s’agit d’une zone qui est passée sous le contrôle du régime d’Assad en mars 2020. Le Conseil danois pour les réfugiés (DRC), membre de l’ECRE, qui fournit une assistance juridique aux demandeurs d’asile au Danemark et une aide humanitaire en Syrie, note que la Commission d’appel a pris une décision partagée, avec des avis divergents sur la durabilité de la prétendue amélioration de la situation sécuritaire. En outre, l’organisation note que les décisions ignorent les risques évidents liés aux retours forcés : “Les risques de persécution et d’abus sont grands pour les individus s’ils sont arrêtés par la police ou rencontrés par les autorités, d’innombrables rapports révèlent de graves violations des droits de l’homme sur la population civile. En particulier les personnes considérées comme suspectes en raison de leurs relations familiales ou de leurs affiliations politiques, mais même des choses aussi aléatoires qu’une erreur sur votre nom de famille à un point de contrôle peuvent vous conduire en prison”, déclare Eva Singer, responsable de l’asile à DRC. En même temps, le DRC souligne le fait qu’en raison du manque de coopération pratique entre les autorités syriennes et danoises concernant les retours forcés, il n’est pas possible pour les autorités danoises de renvoyer les Syriens – et donc les décisions ne peuvent être exécutées. Cela met en veilleuse la vie d’un groupe de personnes bien portantes travaillant au Danemark et de familles ayant des enfants dans des écoles danoises.

      Sur la base des décisions de la Commission d’appel, le service danois de l’immigration va maintenant réévaluer jusqu’à 350 cas concernant des ressortissants syriens de la campagne de Damas. Selon la Commission d’appel des réfugiés, 600 à 700 cas concernant l’ensemble de la région de Damas devraient être réévalués en 2021.

      Pour plus d’informations :

      – ECRE, Denmark : No Forced Returns to Syria, February 2020 : https://www.ecre.org/denmark-no-forced-returns-to-syria
      – ECRE : Denmark : Appeal Board Confirms Rejection of Protection for Three Syrian Nationals, December 2019 : https://www.ecre.org/denmark-appeal-board-confirms-rejection-of-protection-for-three-syrian-nationa
      – ECRE, Denmark : Appeal Board Overturns Withdrawals of Protection Status for Syrians, June 2019 : https://www.ecre.org/denmark-appeal-board-overturns-withdrawals-of-protection-status-for-syrians

      https://asile.ch/2021/03/12/ecre-danemark-elargissement-des-lieux-consideres-comme-surs-en-syrie

    • ’Tragic Situation’ : Syrian Refugees in Denmark Are Losing Their Residencies in Bulk

      A new Danish policy has come into effect as the government of Denmark has declared its intent to deport at least 94 Syrian refugees back to their home country, saying that the decision stems from the government’s belief that certain areas in Syria are no longer dangerous to live in.

      Despite stirring strong criticism from human rights groups and organization, the Danish government has defended its decision to deport Syrian refugees who hail from the Syrian capital and its surrounding areas, saying that “an asylum seeker loses their legal status once it is no longer risky for them to be back.”

      The backlash against statements made by the Danish Minister for Integration, Mattias Tesfaye, attacked the policy saying that most refugees have already been starting to integrate into the Danish society for years, they have acquired education, learned the language, and took decent jobs, and that the decision to send them back to Syria to live under the same political regime that persecuted them during the first years of the civil war is only going to leave them in limbo.

      Online people have also been posting photos of refugees who have received revocation letters along with personal stories, many of which show how successful they have been starting their lives in Denmark.

      Additionally, social media users have widely shared the story of Akram Bathiesh, a refugee who has died of a heart attack shortly after receiving the notification of his residency being canceled. According to his family and friends, Bathiesh was terrified of going back to Syria where he had been in prison for his political stances.

      Denmark is the first EU nation to decide to send Syrian refugees home alleging better circumstances for them in Syria. Previously, Germany had decided to send back Syrian refugees with criminal records in Germany.

      According to official records released in 2017, more than 40k Syrians were living legally in Denmark, including ones with temporary residency permits.

      https://www.albawaba.com/node/syrian-refugees-denmark

      #résidence #permis_de_séjour

    • Denmark strips Syrian refugees of residency permits and says it is safe to go home

      Government denies renewal of temporary residency status from about 189 Syrians

      Denmark has become the first European nation to revoke the residency permits of Syrian refugees, insisting that some parts of the war-torn country are safe to return to.

      At least 189 Syrians have had applications for renewal of temporary residency status denied since last summer, a move the Danish authorities said was justified because of a report that found the security situation in some parts of Syria had “improved significantly”.

      About 500 people originally from Damascus and surrounding areas were being re-evaluated.

      The issue has attracted widespread attention since 19-year-old Aya Abu-Daher, from Nyborg, pleaded her family’s case on television earlier this month, moving viewers as she asked, holding back tears, what she had “done wrong”.

      Charlotte Slente, secretary general of the Danish Refugee Council, said that Denmark’s new rules for Syrians amount to “undignified treatment”.

      “The Danish Refugee Council disagrees with the decision to deem the Damascus area or any area in Syria safe for refugees to return to – the absence of fighting in some areas does not mean that people can safely go back. Neither the UN nor other countries deem Damascus as safe.”

      After 10 years of war, Bashar al-Assad is back in control of most of Syria, and frontline fighting is limited to the north of the country. However, one of the main reasons people rose up during the Arab spring remains: his secret police.

      Regime intelligence branches have detained, tortured and “disappeared” more than 100,000 people since the war broke out in 2011. Arbitrary detentions are widespread in formerly rebel-held areas that have signed reconciliation agreements with Damascus, according to Human Rights Watch.

      Areas under the regime are unstable. There has been next to no rebuilding, services such as water and electricity are scarce, and last year’s collapse of the Syrian pound has sent food prices rocketing by 230%.

      Hiba al-Khalil, 28, who left home on the refugee trail through Turkey and Greece before settling in Denmark in 2015, said: “I told the interviewer, just being outside Syria for as long as I have is enough to make you look suspicious to the regime. Just because your city isn’t being bombed with chemicals anymore doesn’t make it safe … Anyone can be arrested.”

      The trainee journalist added: “I was so happy to get to Denmark. I came here to work and study and make a new life. I’ve learned the language very well. Now I am confused and shocked it was not enough.”

      Khalil had been called back for a second immigration interview this week, and was not sure what would happen next or how she would afford a lawyer to appeal if her application renewal were rejected.

      According to Refugees Welcome Denmark, 30 Syrians have already lost their appeals – but since Copenhagen does not have diplomatic relations with Damascus it cannot directly deport people to Syria.

      At least some of the rejected applicants have been placed in a detention centre, which campaigners said amounted to a prison where residents could not work, study or get proper healthcare.

      Syrian men are generally exempt from the new policy because the authorities recognise they are at risk of being drafted into the Syrian military or punished for evading conscription. The majority of affected people appear to be women and older people, many of whom face being separated from their children.

      The parents of Mahmoud al-Muhammed, 19, both in their late 60s, had their appeal to stay in Denmark rejected, despite the fact Muhammed’s father retired from the Syrian military in 2006 and threats were made against him when the family left the country.

      “They want to put my parents in a detention centre for maybe 10 years, before Assad is gone,” he said. “They both have health problems. This policy is cruel. It is designed to make us so desperate we have to leave.”

      Denmark is home to 5.8 million people, of which 500,000 are immigrants and 35,000 are Syrian.

      The Scandinavian country’s reputation for tolerance and openness has suffered in recent years with the rise of the far-right Danish People’s party. The centre-left coalition in government, led by the Social Democrats, is in competition with the right for working-class votes.

      The new stance on Syrian refugees stands in stark contrast to neighbouring Germany and Sweden, where it is much easier for the larger Syrian populations to gain permanent residency and eventually citizenship.

      As well as stripping Syrians of their residency permits, the Danish government has also offered funding of about £22,000 per person for voluntary returnees. However, worried for their safety, in 2020 just 137 refugees took up the offer.

      Danish authorities have so far dismissed growing international criticism of the new policies from the UN and rights groups.

      The immigration minister, Mattias Tesfaye, told Agence France-Presse: “The government’s policy is working and I won’t back down, it won’t happen. We have made it clear to the Syrian refugees that their residence permit is temporary and that the permit can be revoked if the need for protection ceases to exist.”

      “It is pointless to remove people from the life they are trying to build in Denmark and put them in a waiting position without an end date,” Slente of the Danish Refugee Council said. “It is also difficult to understand why decisions are taken that cannot be implemented.”

      https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/apr/14/denmark-revokes-syrian-refugee-permits-under-new-policy