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Denmark is putting hundreds of people at risk of return to Syria, claiming that Damascus and the surrounding region is now safe. Air and ground attacks in some areas may have reduced, but dangers remain, with evidence showing that detentions, disappearances, and torture of returnees continue. Danish authorities must protect all people from Syria, grant them refugee status and reverse any attempt to force them back.
In 2019, Denmark moved from supporting integration of asylum-seekers to using all measures to return them, coinciding with Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen’s goal of having “zero asylum-seekers”. Since then, the government has reviewed at least 800 Syrians’ residency permits and will altogether review the cases of 1200 Syrians from Damascus and the surrounding region who have had legal residence permits in Denmark – some of them for many years.
At least 69 of them have now had their residency status stripped and risk being deported if Denmark re-establishes diplomatic ties with the Syrian regime. They could be placed in “return centres”, where they are not allowed to work or pursue an education. Here they will stay, separated from their families, their communities, their schools and workplaces, until they can be deported.
They face an uncertain future stuck in limbo, cut off from Danish society. These cruel conditions are designed to pressure them into deciding to return “voluntarily” to Syria, a measure that is unlawful under international law.
Syria still remains a very dangerous place. The torture, enforced disappearances, and arbitrary or unlawful detention which forced many Syrians to seek asylum abroad are as rife as ever in Syria today. What’s more, the very fact of having fled Syria is enough to put returnees at risk of being targeted by authorities.
Syrians in Denmark fled conflict and persecution before. They must not be returned to the same dangers they escaped from. Send an email to the Minister for Immigration and Integration, Mattias Tesfaye, now and tell him to reverse the decision to revoke residency for people from Syria. Urge him to continue protecting them and grant them refugee status.