This year, requests for asylum in Denmark are at a ten-year high, according to Immigration Service statistics. Some 5,521 refugees had applied for asylum through November and 2,279 of those applications have been approved, a nine year high. The police expect a further 500 to apply in December, resulting in more than 6,000 applicants for this year, compared with only 3,806 applicants last year.
New rules allowing asylum seekers to live and work outside of refugee centres and people fleeing unrest in places like Syria have created the long lines at Denmark’s gates.
“Denmark has had an extremely tight immigration policy, so the small concessions that the government has made are being reflected,” Ninna Nyberg Sørensen, from the Danish Institute for International Studies, told Jyllands-Posten newspaper.
The majority of those seeking asylum hail from Somalia and Syria. There has also been a rise in the numbers of Serbs, Moroccans, Burmese, Nigerians and Russians seeking asylum.
Inger Støjberg, a spokesperson for opposition party Venstre, criticised the government for making it more attractive to seek asylum in Denmark.
“The increase is due to government concessions,” Støjberg told Jyllands-Posten. “They are going to cost us a lot of money and cause us a lot of trouble.”
The spike in the number asylum seekers has resulted in more refugees being granted asylum, but has also created a jump in the number of rejections as well.
A report by Rigspolitiet, the national police force, showed that the number of rejected asylum seekers facing repatriation has almost tripled over the past three years from 510 in 2009, to so far 1,407 this year.
The government’s answer to getting some of those denied entry to go home, is to offer them more money to leave.
Under a new government proposal, rejected asylum seekers would be paid 20,000 kroner per adult and 10,000 kroner per child if they voluntarily go home before 1 July 2013. Currently, leaving voluntarily only pays 3,793 kroner for adults and 1,896 kroner for children.
“We have, unfortunately, in recent years seen an increasing number of rejected asylum seekers that do not leave,” the justice minister, Morten Bødskov (Socialdemokraterne), told metroXpress newspaper. “Now we will give them a financial incentive to leave.”
Bødskov should not count on Dansk Folkeparti (DF) for help in getting the extra cash to fund his proposal.
“This is a desperate government’s attempt to get a grip on asylum and immigration policy,” DF integration spokesman Martin Henriksen told metroXpress. “Now it is throwing out bait, but it doesn’t solve the problem.”