The Danish government has steamed ahead with its intention of sending Syrian refugees back to their home country in spite of objections from the European Union.
In March, Denmark’s government confirmed it would strip Syrians of their residency after Damascus and its surrounding environs were finally deemed secure.
In spite of its leftist leanings, the government is hot on immigration. Even before the announcement, the immigration service had started interviewing migrants. All 1,250 Syrians living in Denmark have now been assessed to see how well integrated they are into society. They’ve been checked for their proficiency in the national tongue among other important criteria such as “Danish values”. The sessions are rigorous, often lasting up to five hours. 250 Syrians have already had their residency revoked.
Denmark has been “honest from day one,” says immigration minister, Mattias Tesfaye.
“We have made it clear to the Syrian refugees that their residence permit is temporary.”
Naturally, Eurocrats brandishing the precious European human rights charter are livid. Responding to the Danish government’s rapid moves a European Commission spokesperson insisted the Scandinavian country respect “all fundamental rights”.
In Syria, all men aged 18 to 42 are brought into the armed forces, although anyone with $10,000 handy can pay to be relieved of duty. Refugees being sent back to Syria from Denmark receive “a huge bag of travel money,” says Tesfaye, suggesting Syrians sent home from Denmark get to bypass military service, thanks to the Danish taxpayer. Most migrants sent back to Syria do so voluntarily.
Brussels’ bone of contention is military service, even though five EU countries, including Denmark itself, conscript young men, abs sometimes women, into the armed forces.
But the EU is still unhappy. A report by the bloc’s asylum office placed a question mark on whether repatriated refugees would be able to avoid time in the armed forces. The report claimed draft-dodging payments were “linked with corruption, bribery, and discretionary application.”
But the Danes are having none of it, countering the EU’s findings with a report by its immigration service which states that “people who pay the exemption fee have not faced any issues after returning to Syria.”
Last month’s big announcement to send back Syrians living in Denmark 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, Tesfaye said that Syrians “who have been granted protection in Europe must also go home when conditions in Syria permit.”
He later added: “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.”
In January, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen re-committed Denmark to receiving refugees after cleverly negotiating a three-year hiatus with the UN’s refugee quota system which has now ended.
“For me, it is becoming increasingly clear that the price of unregulated globalisation, mass immigration and the free movement of labour is paid for by the lower classes,” Frederiksen previously said in a biography published shortly before she was elected in 2019.