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She Has Dementia, Chokes on Food. Denmark Is Deporting Her

Family of 72-year-old Zarmena Waziri says she'll never make it back in Afghanistan
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 29, 2019 9:05 AM CDT
Zamena Waziri is running out of time in Denmark.   (Getty Images/vladans)

(Newser) – June 4 is a day of reckoning for Zarmena Waziri, a 72-year-old refugee from Afghanistan with dementia who's been told that's the day she must report to a Denmark deportation center. The New York Times reports that her last appeal for asylum there, where she lives with her daughter Marzia, has been denied, ending a seven-year quest to stay. Marzia, who once told the Times her mother "wouldn't last a day" in Afghanistan, says Waziri wears a diaper, chokes on her food, and suffers myriad other issues, including diabetes and asthma. "I don't know how many times we've contacted emergency services," Marzia told a local paper in 2017, via the Local. The Danish government says Waziri has been ordered to leave the country several times since 2012. Her family says her plight is a result of Denmark's strict asylum policy: Only three refugees were granted humanitarian asylum in 2017, down from 72 when Waziri started pleading to stay.

A big issue supposedly holding up Waziri's asylum: Denmark's immigration ministry requires a doctor's diagnosis to grant her humanitarian asylum, but because Waziri isn't a citizen, she can't use the country's health services without paying a steep price—in her case, around $13,500, per her daughter. The ministry also says Waziri has a nephew back in Afghanistan who could care for her, but her family says he's a Taliban member and likely wouldn't even want to care for her. Meanwhile, what happens on Tuesday will be driven by what authorities decide to do, because Waziri's daughter says she's not voluntarily giving up her mother to the deportation center. "We're not going there," she said. "They will have to come and get her." She then adds, "It's a bit evil perhaps, but I hope she dies before June 4, because then she can have some peace." (More on Waziri's story here.)

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