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Denmark attacked for decision to house Syrian migrants stripped of residency permits in camps…


Richard Orange
The Telegraph . Wed, March 3, 2021, 5:02 PM
Leading rights groups have accused Denmark of condemning potentially hundreds of Syrian refugees to a state of “indefinite limbo” in return centres by judging Damascus and its surrounding region safe.

The Danish Refugee Council, which works extensively with displaced and conflict-affected people inside Syria, said that those who had their temporary protection removed faced years living in Denmark’s three return centres, unable to work or study.

“Once the authorities withdraw their residence permits, they will end up in limbo at the deportation centre, indefinitely basically, without work permits, and without the normal rights of people with residence permits in Denmark,” Eva Singer, Director of the group’s asylum department, told the Telegraph.

Denmark, which has a policy of discouraging asylum seekers, last year stripped 94 Syrians from around Damascus of their residency permits after ruling the city safe enough for them to return, and it hopes this year to take a decision on a further 300 refugees from Damascus and on 350 from the southern Rif Dimashq region.

There are currently 59 Syrians living in Denmark’s three return centres, Avsntrup, Sjalsmark and Karshovedgard. As Denmark does not have an agreement with the Syrian government on returns, it is currently only able to send back those who volunteer to go.

Lisa Blinkenberg, a senior advisor at Amnesty International in Denmark, said that the situation for those who had lost their permits was “worrisome”.

“They cannot work and they cannot study, and although there is some essential education for children, we don’t know if they will remain at these centres for months, or for years,” she said. “It’s a very bad signal for other countries that Denmark is now trying to pressure them out of the country.”

The Ellebæk Immigration Center is located in North Zealand between Allerød and Birkerød

Amnesty International in January wrote a public letter to Denmark’s immigration minister expressing concern about the plight of Syrians in the centres, asserting that its research demonstrated that “a general risk of human rights violations against civilians persists in the country, including [in] Damascus”.

Radwan Jomaa, 61, told the Daily Telegraph that he had been given 30 days to decide whether to return to Damascus with his family after immigration authorities took away his residency permit.

“I’m very, very, scared about what will happen to me and my family,” he said, explaining that he had taken part in protests against the regime, and had criticised President Bashar al-Assad in videos shared online.

“I know that if I come back to Syria, I will go directly to prison, and I don’t know if they will kill me,” he said.

Refugees from other parts of Syria, and even from other countries have also been affected by Denmark’s decision to be the first country in Europe to classify Damascus as safe, Ms Singer argued, as it showed the country’s willingness to act alone.

Hatem Alaboud, 34, who is studying Future Energy Engineering at the prestigious Technical University of Denmark, comes from the east of Syria, which Denmark still considers dangerous enough for locals to merit protection.

“I don’t feel safe in Denmark at all, because Denmark, alone, has decided that Damascus is safe, so it can at any point say that the whole of Syria is safe,” he said.

“If you say there is no bombing maybe that’s right,” he said of Damascus. “But we cannot say it’s safe, because anyone can be arrested at any checkpoint for no reason at all.”

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