They Found Safety in Denmark. Now They're Told to Go

Denmark becomes first EU country to revoke Syrians' residence permits
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 14, 2021 1:32 PM CDT
They Found Safety in Denmark. Now They're Told to Go
In this July 24, 2019 file photo, a man begs for money in traffic on a street in the Syrian capital, Damascus.   (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar, File)

"I'm not a danger. I'm not a criminal." You might be inclined to agree. What Ghalia al-Asseh is is a chemistry and biotechnology student at the Technical University of Denmark, the country in which she has lived since fleeing Syria with her family in 2015. Now, the 27-year-old is one of 250 people whose residence permits have been revoked or not renewed because of Denmark's determination that Damascus is safe once more. They're being told to leave their new lives and go "home" to the country they fled. NPR indicates the groundwork has been laid for some time: In 2019, a Danish report described a "significant" improvement in the security situation in certain areas of Syria, and that report served as the basis of a 2020 decision to start to review the residence permits that had been given to those who hailed from the Damascus area. More:

  • The New York Times reports on the significance of the move: It makes Denmark "the first European Union country to deprive Syrian refugees of their asylum status, even as Syria remains shattered. The bloc and the United Nations describe most areas in Syria as not stable enough to be considered safe for returnees."
  • NPR zeroes in on the story of one family who saw relatives and friends who ended up in Germany or the Netherlands getting permanent residency. They thought it was nearly their time to get the same. Instead, they were just told to go back to a place where Heba Alrejleh's first husband died in front of her and where Radwan Jomaa believes he will be arrested for protesting Bashar al-Assad's rule.
  • Indeed, while the Guardian reports that after 10 years of war, fighting is mainly restricted to the north, it notes Assad's secret police are still active.
  • Deutsche Welle reports there's no cooperation between Denmark and Assad's regime, so critics of the move say deportations can't actually be enforced at this time. Those whose residence permit is not renewed but do not leave can end up in Danish deportation camps.
(More Syria stories.)

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