Rules eased for Syrian asylum seekers

The refugee appeals board, Flygtningenævnet, has decided to ease the rules so that refugees from the hardest hit areas of Syria gain direct access to seek asylum in Denmark

The refugee situation in war-torn Syria has become so serious that Denmark's refugee appeals board, Flygtningenævnet, has decided to ease the rules so that refugees from the hardest-hit areas of Syria gain direct access to seek asylum in Denmark.

In effect, the rule change means that people from areas where civilians are in the most danger will no longer need to prove they are persecuted personally in order to seek asylum. 

“The situation in Syria has deteriorated significantly in the past few months, although not all areas of the country are equally affected by the conflict,” Flygtningenævnet wrote in a press release. “Flygtningenævnet finds that the conditions in certain areas of Syria are currently of such a character that people would be in real risk of suffering human rights violations, according to the European Human Rights Convention’s Article 3, by simply being present in those areas.”

READ MORE: Søvndal: "Syria needs to deliver on its promise"

Sufi and Elmi v. the United Kingdom
Flygtningenævnet pointed to the European Court of Human Rights decision in the case Sufi and Elmi versus the United Kingdom, in which two asylum seekers will sent back to Somalia. 

“In the joint case of Sufi and Elmi vs the United Kingdom, the Court ruled that those removed to Somalia would be at risk of ill treatment – prohibited by Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) – simply by virtue of the current situation of generalised violence in Mogadishu,” the court ruling read. 

Flygtningenævnet has been continuously monitoring the situation in Syria since April 2011, and while it is the first time that the board has decided to ease the rules, it didn’t see any reason to ease the rules for all Syrian asylum seekers. 

“Flygtningenævnet does not find the situation in Syria to be so dire that everyone coming from Syria would risk human rights abuse should they return to the country,” Flygtningenævnet said.

READ MORE: Syrian refugees won't be granted permanent residence

DF: More ghettos and integration issues
The vast majority of Syrian refugees who come to Denmark are granted asylum and Flygtningenævnet's change of course will likely mean that the number will only increase.

Right-wing Dansk Folkeparti (DF) argues that the change will be bad for Denmark.

“I staunchly believe that Denmark should help the Syrian refugees, but do so within the nearby area,” Martin Henriksen, a DF spokesperson, said in a press release. “But we can’t take all the refugees in Denmark because they create ghettos, and suffer from high unemployment and integration problems.”

The Flygtningenævnet ruling comes in the wake of the Syrian government's alleged use of chemical weapons against its own people last month near the capital of Damascus. 

An estimated 100,000 people have died and two million people have fled Syria since the civil war started two years ago.