Denmark to Become First EU Nation Telling Syrian Refugees to Return Home

Denmark to Become First EU Nation Telling Syrian Refugees to Return Home
Danish police escort a family from Syria seeking asylum in Denmark in a file photo taken in Padborg, Denmark, on Jan. 6, 2016. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Denmark has announced Syrian refugees seeking asylum in the Scandinavian country should return to their home-nation as conditions in the war-torn Western Asian country have improved.

“We must give people protection for as long as it is needed,” Danish Minister for Immigration and Integration Mattias Tesfaye told The Telegraph.

“When conditions in the home country improve, a former refugee should return home and re-establish a life there,” he said.

The government said they aren’t planning to force migrants seeking asylum to leave, but 94 Syrian refugees are stripped from asylum while 179 people have kept theirs. This year, there will be an additional screening on 300 cases, according to immigration authorities.

Syrian refugees will be placed into Danish deportation camps as the government announced the Syrian capital, Damascus, is no longer dangerous enough to offer refugees ground protection.

The move has made Denmark the first nation in Europe to tell immigrants to return to their home-nation. This comes as Danish officials said earlier this year they are working towards an anti-migration policy that strives towards “zero” asylum seekers.

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said in January she wants no asylum seekers at all coming to Denmark, a policy criticized by human rights groups.

“We cannot promise zero asylum seekers, but we can set up that vision, as we did before the elections,” Frederiksen told Parliament. “We want a new asylum system, and we will do what we can to introduce it.”

NTD Photo
Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen addresses a press conference in the Prime Minister’s Office in Copenhagen, Denmark, on Feb. 24, 2021. (Jens Dresling/Ritzau Scanpix/AFP via Getty Images)

Human rights groups have criticized Danish officials to send Syrian migrants back, claiming the country remains under war and isn’t safe yet. They said the government’s decision to send the refugees to deportation camps will leave the migrants with no other option than to return to Syria.

“The government hopes that they will go voluntarily, that they will just give up and go on their own,” human rights advocate Michala Bendixen for “Refugees Welcome,” told The Telegraph.

Tesfaye pointed out last month that refugees will be offered protection in the Scandinavian nation for as long as they need to and Denmark has been “open and honest from the start” regarding the situation on migrants.

“We have made it clear to the Syrian refugees that their residence permit is temporary,” Tesfaye said. “It can be withdrawn if protection is no longer needed.”

Most Syrian refugees that arrived in Denmark are primarily due to the Syrian civil war. As of 2017, there are a total of 40,477 persons of Syrian origin living in Denmark.