HomeWorld NewsThese Syrian Refugees Can't Stay in Denmark, but They Can't Go Home

These Syrian Refugees Can’t Stay in Denmark, but They Can’t Go Home

IKAST, Denmark — Haitham Kurdi, a 61-year-old asylum seeker from Syria, has been languishing for practically six months in a deportation heart in Denmark, the place relations say he has grown depressed and barely eats. He suffers from tics and has began speaking to himself.

Mr. Kurdi fled Syria’s civil warfare in 2015, following his grownup son, Mohammad, who arrived a 12 months earlier. Initially he was granted short-term asylum, however the authorities revoked his residency allow final 12 months after deciding it was protected for him and others from the Damascus area to return house.

“Being right here is like dying slowly,” Mr. Kurdi stated in a current interview from his tiny, dilapidated room on the Kaershovedgaard heart within the city of Ikast in northern Denmark, the place some asylum seekers who’ve been rejected are held. However the prospect of returning to Syria is so terrifying, he stated, that he would by no means return.

As tons of of hundreds of Syrians discovered refuge in Europe round 2015, Denmark took in additional than 30,000 of them. However since then, no European nation has gone so far as Denmark to make Syrian refugees really feel unwelcome.

With a brand new refugee disaster swelling in Europe, the nice and cozy welcome for Ukrainians fleeing a Russian assault has evoked each sympathy and bitterness within the Center East and Africa, the place many really feel that European nations have taken a way more compassionate stance towards the newcomers than that they had lately towards Arab, Muslim and African asylum seekers making an attempt to achieve the security of Europe’s shores.

In 2019, the federal government started sending out letters to greater than 1,200 folks from the Damascus area, saying that after granting them residency permits, it was reassessing their short-term asylum standing. Since then, greater than 100 Syrians like Mr. Kurdi have had their residencies revoked and have exhausted the appeals course of, basically making it unlawful for them to remain within the nation.

A few of them have been despatched to a number of deportation facilities across the nation, the place their actions are tightly managed. However Denmark can not deport them as a result of it doesn’t have diplomatic relations with Syria.

So dozens of Syrians have ended up caught in limbo, dealing with indefinite detention with the specter of deportation hanging over their heads.

In revoking the residency permits of some Syrians, Denmark has change into the primary European nation to rule that they not benefit asylum regardless of the hazards again house.

Safety and human rights specialists say Denmark’s evaluation of the safety state of affairs within the Damascus area grossly misrepresents the dangers of returning whereas the dictator Bashar al-Assad stays in energy. Returnees have confronted extortion, torture, sexual violence and compelled disappearance, in line with human rights teams.

The United Nations’ refugee company has known as on governments around the globe to not return Syrians “to any a part of Syria.” Denmark’s measures have alarmed many European lawmakers, and a few European nations, like Britain, have explicitly stated that Syria stays unsafe for returnees.

“My shoppers are taken hostage by the Danish authorities to be able to ship a message to the world that Denmark is the worst place to go as an asylum seeker from Syria,” stated Niels-Erik Hansen, a lawyer based mostly in Copenhagen who’s representing Mr. Kurdi and different Syrians.

Rasmus Stoklund, a authorities spokesman, stated no Syrian ought to be despatched again in the event that they face hazard.

“You’re welcome right here so long as you want safety,” he stated. “As quickly as you don’t want safety anymore, then you definitely’ll need to go house.”

The entire Syrians who’ve had their residency permits revoked have the fitting to attraction the choice, and several other occasions per week, a three-judge panel in Copenhagen guidelines on these appeals. Those that exhaust all authorized avenues are often despatched to deportation facilities just like the one the place Mr. Kurdi now resides.

His heart, a former jail, is surrounded by fences and below guard and Mr. Kurdi is simply allowed to sleep outdoors the middle twice a month.

Denmark’s purpose is to discourage asylum seekers from coming or staying, stated Thomas Gammeltoft-Hansen, a Danish professor of refugee regulation on the College of Copenhagen.

“Oblique deterrence has change into a scientific response of European states in reference to the present political disaster over asylum in Europe,” Mr. Gammeltoft-Hansen stated. “Denmark has been a front-runner and a supply of inspiration for others.”

Different European nations have additionally toughened their insurance policies on Syrian refugees. Germany has lifted a ban on deportations to Syria for these convicted of significant crimes, and Sweden has stopped granting residency permits to some Syrians.

However none have gone so far as Denmark.

Many of the Syrians who received residency permits in Denmark can keep for now, because the measures solely have an effect on those that got here from the Damascus space. However the Danish authorities at the moment are reassessing the safety state of affairs in different elements of Syria, that means hundreds extra may very well be in danger.

Denmark’s immigration ministry says that just about 400 Syrians have returned house voluntarily, and so they had been provided $30,000 to go away.

But among the many greater than 250 Syrians who had their residency permits revoked and filed appeals, extra have now gained than misplaced.

A kind of who gained an attraction is Sami al-Dyab, a 50-year-old manufacturing unit employee in southern Denmark who fled Syria in 2014. He was joined by his spouse and 5 kids a 12 months later and so they purchased a home in 2019. Quickly after, Mr. al-Dyab misplaced his residency allow.

On a current afternoon in Copenhagen, he emerged from Denmark’s Refugee Appeals Board, pumping his fists within the air in victory. After drying his tears, he known as his employer.

“All is nice,” he stated. “We’re staying right here in Denmark.”

The federal government measures in opposition to Syrians have crystallized tensions between Danes who favor anti-immigrant measures and people in opposition to them. About 80 p.c of Danish voters now disapprove of the measures, in line with one current survey.

Mattias Tesfaye, the nation’s immigration minister, stated within the European Parliament earlier this 12 months that Denmark needed to shield itself from issues brought on by the mixing of too many immigrants. He insisted that those that returned to the Damascus space wouldn’t be endangered.

Mr. Tesfaye declined a number of interview requests, however stated in an announcement that he wasn’t answerable for the safety assessments of Syrian areas, nor for the choices on asylum purposes.

For a lot of who’ve misplaced their residence permits, going again to Syria is out of the query.

“We gained’t return so long as Bashar is there,” stated Asmaa al-Natour, a 51-year-old Syrian who was despatched to an asylum heart within the northern city of Holstebro along with her husband, Omar. “However we’ll return as quickly as he’s gone.”

In contrast to the deportation facilities, the middle in Holstebro is for newly arrived asylum seekers, or for these just like the al-Natours who’ve appealed the revocation of their residency permits and are awaiting a last choice.

The asylum heart has higher circumstances. Ms. and Mr. al-Natour have a automobile, can research, and obtain a month-to-month stipend of $320 every.

Denmark’s insurance policies on refugees and asylum seekers have cut up up many households.

Mr. Kurdi’s 28-year-old son Mohammad, who’s married to a Danish girl and has two daughters, obtained refugee standing in Denmark as a result of he dangers being drafted into Syria’s army. Meaning he can proceed to dwell within the suburbs of Copenhagen together with his household.

The Kaershovedgaard heart, the place Mr. Kurdi is detained, holds about 250 folks — a few of them awaiting deportation to nations aside from Syria. He’s allowed to go away twice a month to satisfy his household or lawyer.

On a current go to to the middle, among the widespread areas had been full of rubbish. One other heart was infested with rats, in line with footage seen by The New York Occasions.

Confronted with no future in Denmark, Mr. Kurdi tried to go away final 12 months for Germany, solely to be rejected and deported again to Denmark. His son Mohammad stated Mr. Kurdi regretted his choice to maneuver to Denmark.

“My dad has no future right here,” he stated. “He’s ready for nothing.”

Asmaa al-Omar contributed reporting from Beirut, Lebanon.



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