Syrian refugees smuggled into Denmark

Smugglers take thousands of kroner to transport Syrian refugees into Denmark and provide an escape from the conflict that has displaced over two million civilians

The number of Syrian refugees caught illegally entering Denmark has exploded over the past month, reports Berlingske newspaper.

At least 16 suspected human smugglers have been arrested in Denmark over the past month. And of the 78 Syrian refugees apprehended by the police in southern Denmark this year, 61 were caught in September.

“There are currently an above average number of cases,” police commissioner Mikael Knudsen told Berlingske. “We normally only meet Syrians sporadically in our controls, but in September we witnessed an explosion in the number of human smuggling cases.”

Heading for Europe
The statistics match a European trend. In Italy, two thirds of the 4,600 Syrian refugees arriving by boat this year made landfall in August.

Over two million Syrians have so far fled from the civil war into neighbouring countries, with Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan housing at least 90 percent of the refugees.

The remainder have fled either to northern Africa or Europe, with many setting their sights on Scandinavian countries where the chances of securing asylum is high.

READ MORE: Rules eased for Syrian asylum seekers

Targeting Scandinavia
According to Thomas Gammeltoft Hansen from the Danish Institute for Human Rights, Sweden is a particularly sought after destination both because of its long history of housing refugees and its current policy to grant all Syrian refugees asylum.

“Interviews with refugees lead us to understand that the most important factor when choosing a country is whether they have a personal network, family and friends in the country,” Hansen told Berlingske. “But we have to remember that it is an asylum seeker’s right to illegally cross a border to seek asylum. Ayslum seekers should not be punished.”

Human smugglers difficult to convict
According to Berlingske, the cost of being illegally transported to Denmark can vary dramatically – anywhere between 1,000 to 30,000 kroner – depending on the route and whether fake documents are bought.

Human smugglers have a number of routes into Denmark through land and sea, but chauffeurs are rarely convicted of smuggling because it is difficult to prove they have profited from the trip.

"The driver could explain that he met Syrians by chance at a petrol station in Germany and offered them a lift," Skipper Falsted from South Zealand and Lolland-Falster Police told Berlingske. "He would argue that he thought they had the correct papers and didn't know they were illegal. It's difficult to investigate."

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