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Deportation ghost haunts Syrian refugees in Denmark

Syrian Refugees | 2020-10-08 17:32:00
Deportation ghost haunts Syrian refugees in Denmark
(Zaman Al Wasl)- Once again, the threat of deportation looms over Syrian refugees in Denmark, who for more than a year have been anticipating the review of their residence permits and fearing that their fate has been sealed, on the false claim that Damascus is now “safe”. Indeed, a few days ago, five families were confirmed for deportation within a month.

In December 2019, the Danish Refugee Board decided that “there were no longer basis for granting temporary subsidiary protection status on the grounds of the general security situation in Damascus.” In May and June of this year, the Board issued decisions regarding five files for Syrian refugees from Damascus, stating that they “do not need protection and must leave the country.”

The immigration ministry announced it is fast-tracking a review of residence permits for some 900 Syrian refugees from Damascus, most of which are expected to receive a final assessment this year. 

Haytham Shehadeh Al-Kurdi, a refugee from Damascus, took refuge in Denmark in 2015 and was granted temporary protection status 7(3) for one year, after which he applied for family unification in Turkey. However, after the regime announced that people over 40 are not required for military service, the Danish government took up the opportunity to force some of the refugees to leave, including him. 

Another file of a Syrian-Kurdish woman, 64, was referred to immigration course and had her residence permit cancelled, despite one of her children who live in Denmark holds permanent residence and her grandchildren Danish citizenship. The woman, who does not have any family left in Syria after the death of her husband, awaits for the court to decide her fate.

The Danish government's handling of the refugee file can be attributed to Danish Minister for Immigration, Mattias Tesfaye, who is himself the son of an Ethiopian refugee, given his promises the government to terminate the residence permits of 900 refugees before the end of 2020. The government has already opened cases of 7(3) and 7 (2) temporary protection for everyone who came from Damascus. 

Refugees are sent to Sandholm asylum center to undergo a new formal investigation, before their files are transferred to the immigration court, which revokes their residence and approves their deportation within 30 days.

According to one refugee, Zaher Salami, the Danish government aims, by devoting its time to the refugee file, to gain the votes of a large number of Danish people who hold xenophobic sentiments towards refugees, especially Syrian, despite many of those who arrived in Denmark in 2014 are now fully integrated in their society.

Salami confirmed that Denmark converted all refugee residence to temporary residence, placing them at a very precarious situation of possible deportation at any moment.

Activist Nayef Ouda explained that the group most threatened with deportation is in humanitarian temporary protection 7(3), especially the elderly, women, and children under the age of 18, who represent the most vulnerable group among refugees. While there is an implicit and specific asylum agreement between the government and the refugees, it is not subject to any international treaty.

According to the activist, the refugee file presents a pressure point exploited by political parties, both from the left and the right, with the old right-wing government using strict refugee policy being to gain public support, which it lost to the new “left-leaning” government that is systematically implementing policy to deport refugees and gain more votes.

The source also revealed that the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) has an office in Damascus working as a Danish intelligence office. The DRC issued the report that helped spread and promote the idea that “Damascus is safe”, and push refugees towards Assisted Voluntary Return by offering around 135 thousand krone (over $20,000) for individuals over 18 and 45 thousand (around $7,000) for under-age children.

Many of the refugees whose residency permits were withdrawn do not wait to be transferred to the deportation camp and immediately move to Germany or other European countries, since for most of them a very ambiguous fate awaits back in Damascus, which the Danish government continues to falsely claim as “safe”. 

Zaman Al Wasl
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