Denmark Strips Some Syrians of Residency Standing

Ghalia al-Asseh had simply begun learning chemistry and biotechnology on the Technical College of Denmark when the nation’s immigration companies summoned her for an interview.

For 5 hours, immigration officers requested about her proficiency in Danish, which she speaks fluently. They inquired how properly built-in she was in Denmark, the place she has lived along with her household since fleeing Syria in 2015.

Throughout the interview, in February, officers additionally instructed Ms. al-Asseh that the safety state of affairs in her hometown, Damascus, had improved, and that it was protected for her to return to Syria, she recalled in a phone interview final week.

Ms. al-Asseh, 27, was shedding her proper to reside in Denmark — whilst her 4 brothers and oldsters might keep, and he or she had nowhere else to go.

For the reason that Danish immigration companies mentioned in 2019 that they deemed Damascus and its surrounding areas protected, they’ve reviewed the residence permits of 1,250 Syrians who, like Ms. al-Asseh, left their nation throughout its civil warfare. The authorities have now revoked or not prolonged the residence permits of greater than 250 of them.

In doing so, Denmark has turn into the primary European Union nation to deprive Syrian refugees of their asylum standing, whilst Syria stays shattered. The bloc and the United Nations describe most areas in Syria as not stable enough to be thought-about protected for returnees.

These being requested to depart embody highschool and college college students, truck drivers, manufacturing facility staff, retailer house owners and volunteers in nongovernmental organizations. All threat being uprooted from a rustic the place they’ve constructed new lives.

“It’s as if the Danish immigration companies has bombed my dream, simply as Bashar al-Assad bombed our houses,” mentioned Asmaa al-Natour, 50, referring to Syria’s president. “Solely this time the bombing is psychological.”

Ms. al-Natour was talking from the city of Ringsted, 30 miles southwest of Copenhagen, the place she and her husband reside. In February, the couple had been instructed that their residence permits wouldn’t be renewed, whereas their two sons, ages 20 and 22, can keep. The sons had been granted asylum on the premise of risking persecution in Syria.

A lot of the 34,000 Syrians who’ve obtained residence permits in Denmark because the warfare started of their nation in 2011 haven’t had their residency reviewed. But the transfer to strip a whole lot of their authorized standing is the most recent in a sequence of measures by Denmark that rights teams say have focused migrants and minorities.

The authorities have imposed necessary instruction in “Danish values” for kids in low-income and closely Muslim neighborhoods that the federal government labeled “ghettos,” and doubled punishments for sure crimes in these areas.

They’ve additionally overhauled the country’s legal apparatus on immigration, shifting it from integration to the accelerated return of refugees to their native international locations. A whole bunch of Somali refugees have additionally misplaced their residence permits after Denmark deemed Somalia protected to return to.

Per Mouritsen, an affiliate professor of political science at Aarhus College, mentioned the federal government had toughened its stance on immigration in recent times to keep away from shedding votes to the fitting wing, a dilemma that a number of center-left events throughout Europe have confronted.

“The one strategy to beat the right-wing in Denmark is to promote your soul to the satan and be as robust on immigration with a purpose to have assist for social welfare insurance policies in return,” Mr. Mouritsen mentioned.

Final 12 months, the variety of refugees leaving Denmark exceeded the variety of arrivals. Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen has vowed to go additional, saying that Denmark will intention to have “zero asylum seekers.”

Explaining the strikes affecting Syrians, Immigration Minister Mattias Tesfaye has mentioned that Denmark was “trustworthy from day one” with them.

“Now we have made it clear to the Syrian refugees that their residence allow is momentary,” Mr. Tesfaye said in February.

For these keen to return to Syria, Mr. Tesfaye said that Denmark would provide “an enormous bag of journey cash.” The authorities say that a whole lot determined to return voluntarily.

Michala Bendixen, Denmark’s nation coordinator for the European Union’s website on integration, mentioned the coverage threatened to tear Syrian households aside. “The one goal is to make Denmark the final place to decide on as an asylum seeker,” Ms. Bendixen, who can also be the chair of Refugees Welcome, a nonprofit, mentioned in an interview.

As a result of the Danish authorities doesn’t keep diplomatic relationships with Mr. al-Assad’s authorities, the authorities can not forcibly deport refugees. Since most of them are unwilling to return voluntarily, those that misplaced their appeals after their residency was revoked are more likely to be despatched to departure centers.

The Danish authorities didn’t reply to questions on why the coverage was carried out for Syrians and what number of had been despatched to departure facilities.

There, they anticipate months.

“Folks threat sitting there for the indefinite future, with no prospect of being despatched again forcefully, however no likelihood of dwelling their lives in Denmark both,” mentioned Charlotte Slente, the secretary basic of the Danish Refugee Council.

That will be the destiny of Ms. al-Asseh, who was notified final month that she can be requested to depart Denmark if she loses her attraction this 12 months.

The final one in her household to depart Syria in late 2015, Ms. al-Asseh obtained her residence allow months after her mother and father and siblings arrived in Denmark. As a result of she was not a minor, she couldn’t declare asylum by means of household reunification and needed to apply on her personal.

Whereas her brothers threat being drafted into Syria’s army, Ms. al-Asseh was the one one to be summoned for an interview with the Danish immigration companies.

“I’m attempting my finest to slot in, to contribute to the Danish society by educating myself, by paying my taxes,” Ms. al-Asseh mentioned. She added that her household had nothing left in Syria and that she noticed her future solely in Denmark. However, she mentioned, “that stigma round refugees, specifically Muslims, has been so hurtful.”

Syria is a rustic in ruins, with a collapsed economy and half of its prewar inhabitants displaced. Mr. al-Assad has reclaimed management of two-thirds of its territory, together with the Damascus space. He has also called on Syrians to come back, however many say they gained’t for one motive: Mr. al-Assad himself.

“So long as it isn’t peaceable and the president continues to be there, we don’t wish to return,” mentioned Hussam Alkholi, a 20-year-old highschool scholar and warehouse employee dwelling in Kolding in western Denmark.

Mr. Alkholi, who’s from the Damascus space, discovered in February that his residence allow in Denmark wouldn’t be prolonged, together with these of his mother and father and two sisters.

Rights teams have reported numerous threats towards refugees who return, together with conscription for males and arrest primarily based on the suspicion that anybody who sided with the rebels who tried to overthrow Mr. al-Assad is a traitor.

A whole bunch of returnees have disappeared, based on the Syrian Network for Human Rights, and the European Union’s asylum physique has warned that voluntary returnees are vulnerable to detention, torture and loss of life.

“The absence of combating in some areas doesn’t imply that folks can return safely,” mentioned Ms. Slente of the Danish Refugee Council.

Ms. al-Asseh, the chemistry and biotechnology scholar, mentioned she had tried to concentrate on her research since studying that her residency allow could be revoked. But she mentioned the considered beginning over once more terrified her.

“I’m not a hazard. I’m not a legal,” she mentioned. “I simply wish to reside right here.”

Rick Gladstone contributed reporting.

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