Rejected asylum seekers flown home

Chartered flight leaves Roskilde with 53 members of Serbia’s Roma minority onboard

The first chartered plane in several years carrying rejected asylum seekers out of Denmark took off from Roskilde Airport yesterday, bound for Serbia.

The 53 adults and children on board were told last Friday that their applications for asylum had been denied and that they would be sent back.

Claus Birch Heather, an inspector from Nationalt Udlændinge Center (NUC), the national immigration centre, said that the mood among those being sent home was generally positive.

"They were all told on Friday to be ready at 7am on Tuesday morning, so they have been able to pack and say goodbye to friends and acquaintances,” Heather told Politiken newspaper. “Everyone left voluntarily and everyone was present this morning.”

Romas from Serbia have been by far the largest group of asylum seekers since the beginning of the year, even though nearly all of the applications have been rejected as groundless.

According to a statement from NUC yesterday, 412 Romas currently living in Danish asylum centres are waiting to be flown to Serbia. They represent the largest single group out of the slightly less than 2,000 rejected asylum seekers waiting to be flown out of Denmark.

"The number of Serbians has been soaring in the last few months, so we are arranging charters rather than sending them regular scheduled flights," Heather said.

According to the Serbian envoy to Denmark, Nenad Maricic, Serbians are seeking asylum in Denmark under the false impression that they can claim money in order to return home.

In December, the Danish government chose to give adult asylum seekers 20,000 kroner, and children 10,000 kroner, if they agree to return home if their applications get rejected. Serbians are not entitled to this money, however, as their applications are almost always regarded as groundless and are therefore not processed like ordinary applications.

Maricic told Politiken that the Serbian government was going to introduce an information campaign to debunk myths about the possible financial gains that can be obtained through wrongfully filing for asylum in Denmark.

Even though the Serbians being sent home were not eligible for the big payout, they each got off the plane in Serbia with 50 euros in their pocket to help them make a new start.