Rejected Syrian asylum seekers gain political support to stay

Amnesty International worries that rejected Syrian asylum seekers could spend years in limbo because the Danish government has stopped repatriations to the war-torn country

The rejected Syrian asylum seekers who protested outside the Swedish embassy on Wednesday are receiving political backing in their campaign to grant them residency.

The asylum seekers are urging the government to approve the cases of all Syrian asylum seekers in Denmark due to the ongoing civil war in Syria.

Sweden has adopted this approach and is automatically granting all asylum seekers from Syria three years residency.

The Danish government continues to process Syrian asylum seekers on a case-by-case basis despite the fact that the 12 percent that lose their cases cannot be deported.

Denmark has stopped forcefully repatriating failed asylum seekers to Syria due to the dangerous state of affairs in the country.

Johanne Schmidt-Nielsen, spokesperson for the far-left party Enhedslisten, supports granting all Syrians asylum.

“It is mystical that Denmark has stopped forced repatriations to Syria because the situation is too dangerous, but also does not acknowledge that these people have a right to protection,” Schmidt-Nielsen told Berlingske newspaper.

Failed asylum seekers are stuck in Danish asylum centres until the government decides they can be forcibly repatriated. In the meantime they are unlikely to benefit from the government’s new programme of allowing asylum seekers the right to live and work outside camps after six months in the country. This is because historically only a small proportion of failed asylum seekers agree to co-operate with their repatriation, which is a precondition for the new rights.

According to Claus Juul from Amnesty International Denmark, the rejected Syrian asylum seekers could develop into a long-term problem for Denmark.

“If we don’t do something now, we could risk ending up with a group of rejected asylum seekers and their children sitting and rotting for years in the centres,” Juul told Berlingske.

Asylum seekers in Denmark live in centres while their cases are being assessed. The quality of life in the centres have been repeatedly criticised, which led the government to develop its new programme of allowing greater opportunities for asylum seekers to live and work outside the centres.

A police raid Wednesday night against Denmark’s largest asylum centre, Sandholm Asylum Centre in North Zealand, lead to the arrest of 38 individuals on drug and trespassing charges.

“We need to make sure that the majority do not suffer because of the actions on the minority,” Thorkild Fogde from the national police force Rigspolitiet wrote in a press release. “Asylum seekers that break the law should not be able to get away with at the cost of the many that remain in a vulnerable position while they wait for their asylum case to conclude.”

Several of the arrestees were not Sandholm residents who were in the centre illegally.  Arrested asylum seekers will have their cases prioritised and should their case get rejected they will be deported immediately after serving their sentence.

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