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The Telegraph

Denmark strips 94 Syrian refugees of residency permits deeming Damascus ‘safe’

Denmark has stripped 94 Syrian refugees of their residency permits after deciding Damascus and its surrounding regions are safe for people to return to. Immigration minister Mattias Tesfaye insisted last month that Denmark had been «open and honest from the start» with refugees coming from Syria. «We have made it clear to the Syrian refugees that their residence permit is temporary. It can be withdrawn if protection is no longer needed,» he said as his ministry extended the parts of Syria considered safe to include the southern Rif Dimashq Governorate. «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.» Denmark’s ruling, centre-Left Social Democratic Party has adopted a fierce anti-migration stance in a bid to ward off challenges from the Right. Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen promised to aim for ‘zero’ asylum seekers applying for residence in the country. Germany has ruled that criminals can be deported to Syria but Denmark is the first European country to say that ordinary refugees can be sent back. The decision on the Rif Dimashq area of Syria will mean a further 350 Syrians residents in Denmark will have their temporary protection permits reassessed, on top of the roughly 900 from around Damascus who had their cases reopened last year. By mid January, 94 Syrians from the Damascus area living in Denmark had lost their permits. Denmark’s Refugee Appeals Board ruled in December 2019 that conditions in Damascus were no longer sufficiently dangerous to give grounds for temporary protection, without any additional personal reason for asylum. Michala Bendixen, from the rights group Refugees Welcome, said that Syrians in Denmark now faced «a very, very tragic situation», forced out of their homes, jobs or studies and into the country’s deportation camps, where they face years in limbo. «They will not be forced onto a plane. So it means that they will have to stay in one of the deportation camps, where you don’t have access to education or work, and you have to stay in the centre every night. The government hopes that they will go voluntarily, that they will just give up and go on their own.» The opposition Liberal party, a Right-wing group, has also called for the returns to be sped up through a return agreement with the brutal regime of Bashar al-Assad, Syria’s authoritarian ruler. In order to prevent Syrians being stranded in deportation camps, Mads Fuglede, the foreign spokesperson for the opposition Liberal Party on Sunday suggested a cooperation deal with the Syrian government. «I can imagine an agreement that will only extend to the framework for sending people back, with some guarantees that you can return without being persecuted,» he told the Jyllands-Posten newspaper. He later stressed in a post on Facebook that by advocating such a deal, he was not suggesting recognising the «criminal dictatorship» led by Assad.

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