Hundreds of Syrian refugees who have spent years rebuilding their lives in Denmark now face the prospect of losing their residency – leaving them with little option but to return to Syria and potentially face the threat of arbitrary arrest and violence.
Danish authorities have in recent weeks been reconsidering the status of at least 800 refugees who were granted temporary protection after fleeing wartime violence in Damascus and the Rif Damascus governorate. The Social Democrat-led government now deems those areas safe.
The government offers money to those who lose their residency in order for them to relocate, but refugees who lose their temporary protection status cannot be deported as Denmark has no diplomatic relations with Syria. Those who don’t leave Denmark after losing their residency permit face the prospect of ultimately being held indefinitely at much-criticised ‘removal centres’ in remote areas, without the right to work or study.
At least 380 refugees have had their temporary residence either revoked or not renewed by the Danish Immigration Service since Denmark deemed Damascus and its surrounding areas safe, Amnesty International says.
People across Denmark are now raising their voice in protest at the policies, but the government is unmoved. Mattias Tesfaye, the Danish minister of immigration and integration, said in February that the government had been “honest from day one” with Syrian refugees with temporary status.
In this episode of The Stream, we’ll look at the problems faced by refugees who have lost their temporary residency rights, why the Danish government is adopting its stance, and the efforts by rights groups to ensure that refugees can continue living their lives in Denmark.
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