Denmark becomes first European country to say that Syrian refugees can be returned to “safe” Damascus

Denmark’s centre-left government has become the first European administration to declare the Syrian capital of Damascus and its surrounding areas safe for Syrian refugees to return to.

The nation’s immigration office has revoked temporary residency permits handed to 94 Syrian refugees and now intends to facilitate their return to the Arab country.


The announcement has been a long time coming after the Danish Refugee Board determined that the city of Damascus was safe in five separate asylum claims back in June of last year.

“Conditions in Damascus in Syria are no longer so severe that there is a basis for granting or extending temporary residence permits”, the government announced at the time.

Denmark insists it has always been honest with those seeking refuge in the country that their residence was conditional and that they must return to Syria when it is safe to do so.

Speaking in July last year, Danish immigration minister Mattias Tesfaye said that Syrians “who have been granted protection in Europe must also go home when conditions in Syria permit.”


He reiterated his comments on Monday, insisting: “We must give people protection for as long as it is needed. But when conditions in the home country improve, a former refugee should return home and re-establish a life there.”

The majority of displaced Syrians remained in the Middle East, choosing to seek refuge in neighbouring countries such as Lebanon, however over 100,000 made it to Europe.

The centre-left administration in Denmark announced its “vision” earlier this year to bring immigration of asylum seekers down to “zero”.

Prime minister Mette Frederiksen told the Danish Parliament that they “must take care that not too many [refugees] come to our country, otherwise our social cohesion could not exist. It is already under threat.”

The ruling Social Democratic Party has maintained a strong anti-migration position as it attempts to see of the electoral threats of parties further to the right.

Roughly 1,200 Syrians currently seeking refuge in Denmark will now have their temporary residence permits reassessed.