Denmark has started to embark on its plan to reconsider permits for Syrian refugees from the Damascus area, following through on its announcement last year to begin reevaluations.
The move is in response to a 2019 report Danish authorities issued, citing that the security situation in some parts of Syria had “improved significantly.” Denmark’s decision marks one of the toughest stances taken by a European Union nation in its approach to curtail its migration policies.
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“No other country in Europe has adopted such a policy,” Niels-Erik Hansen, a migration lawyer told Agence France-Presse.
Danish immigration laws allow temporary residence permits to be issued without an expiration if there’s a particularly harsh situation in the permit holder’s country of origin. However, the permits can be revoked once conditions have improved in a holder’s home country.
Currently, over 35,000 Syrians live in Denmark, with more than half arriving after 2015, fleeing civil conflict and persecution.
Aya Abo Daher, a 20-year-old who recently graduated from a Danish high school, said she received a letter from the country’s authorities that her and her parents’ residency permits would not be renewed.
“I was so sad. I felt so foreign, like everything in Denmark had been taken away from me,” Abo Daher said, according to Deutsche Welle. “I sat down and just cried. At midnight, a friend drove me home to my family because I couldn’t sleep.”
In his announcement last July, Denmark’s Integration Minister Mattias Tesfaye said refugees who choose to return to their country would get a monetary incentive to rebuild their life in Syria.
To refugees who choose to go back to Syria, the Danish government will provide travel costs, four years of medical coverage, and a flat sum of roughly $23,000 per adult, according to a report by NPR. In 2020, only 137 refugees accepted the offer.
Following the 2019 election, the Social Democrats, headed by Mette Frederiksen, adopted a hard-line approach on immigration, taking power from the country’s previous conservative government.