Immigration officials are contending that the security situation in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, has improved to such an extent that Somali asylum seekers can be sent back.
Immigration Service (Udlændingestyrelsen) made its decision on the basis of a joint Danish-Norwegian delegation that visited Mogadishu in October 2012, and reported that the Somali capital was safe to the point that rejected asylum seekers would not face persecution if sent back.
”The joint fact-finding mission to Somalia gave us new information that indicated that the security has been vastly improved,” Jakob Dam Glynstrup, the head of asylum at Udlændingestyrelsen, said in a press release. ”There is also a new government in place and a rising number of Somalis are returning home.”
Udlændingestyrelsen pointed to Norway, which has already changed its protocol in regards to asylum seekers from Somalia.
But the Danish aid organisation Dansk Flygtningehjælp argued that the delegation's assessment is incorrect and pointed to an evaluation by the UN asylum organisation, UNHCR, which said that security threats in Mogadishu and the rest of Somalia are still very high.
“In our view, it is irresponsible to send people back to Mogadishu as there are no authorities that can provide security,” Dansk Flygtningehjælp's general secretary, Andreas Kamm, told Politiken newspaper. “The city is terrorised by militias who do as they please, and the rate of violence and rape in the city has actually been rising.”
Kamm went on to maintain that Somalia’s fragile government is still fighting to stabilise the country following the war and chaos that have plagued it since dictator Mohamed Siad Barre was toppled in 1991.
“It has improved, but it’s far too early to conclude that there is peace,” Kamm said. “If people are willing to risk sailing to Yemen to get away then you know it is serious. It is very risky and many drown on the way over.”
According to Udlændingestyrelsen, the number of Somalis who were granted asylum in Denmark last year shot up to around 900. That is compared to only 18 in 2011 and 35 in 2010.
It is now up to the refugees appeal board, Flygtningenævnet, to make a final decision on whether the current Danish procedure on Somali asylum seekers should be altered.