Syrian asylum seekers protest outside Swedish Embassy

Syrian asylum seekers in Denmark want the government to follow Sweden’s lead and grant them three years residency due to the ongoing civil war

Syrian asylum seekers descended on the Swedish Embassy in Copenhagen yesterday afternoon to demand asylum in Sweden.

Thirty asylum seekers from five asylum centres are protesting against the decision made by the Danish government not to follow Sweden’s example and grant them three years residence as refugees in Denmark.

Asylum seekers from Syria that have their cases rejected end up in limbo because the government won’t forcibly return them to Syria where a civil war is currently raging.

As a result they are forced to remain in asylum centres without the right to work in Denmark. Due to the dangerous situation in Syria, many of the rejected asylum seekers also refuse to say they will cooperate with their eventual return. This means they lose the right to live and work outside asylum centres, a right granted to them after the government recently changed the law.

“We demand that Syrians and others on the run are classified as refugees,” Abu Amin, spokesperson for the Kurdish and Syrian refugees, said in a press release. “That is why we are now applying for asylum in Sweden.”

Technically this is not possible as, according to the Dublin Convention, the country that acted as the first point of entry for asylum seekers into the EU has to process their application.

Justice minister Morten Bødskov denied that there was any reason to criticise the Danish asylum system.

“The Danish asylum regulations are robust and fair. If you have a need for protection you are granted asylum but if you don’t you have to return home,” Bødskov told Ritzau. “Just like all other asylum seekers, asylum seekers from Syria have their cases appealed by the independent Refugee Appeals Board who will assess whether they have a need for protection.”

Several of the asylum seekers spoke to the press outside the Swedish embassy about the uncertain future that they face in the Danish asylum centres.

“It feels like an open prison and many of my friends in the Sigerslev Centre are suffering from depression because of the uncertain situation,” Amin told the tabloid Ekstra Bladet. “The governments in nearby countries have taken the civil war in Syria into account when they treat asylum cases. Why won’t the Danish government do the same?”

Last night, over 100 Danish police raided Denmark’s largest asylum centre, Sandholm, north of Copenhagen, to search for drugs and weapons.

According to deputy police inspector, Flemming Drejer, about 15 people were arrested in the raid.

“We heard that some individuals had been abusing the asylum system in order to run a drugs trade, which was also discussed in the media,” Drejer told Jyllands-Posten.