Denmark considers sending refugees abroad

The Danish People's Party believes that Denmark should consider striving for a bilateral agreement similar to the one recently reached between Austria and Slovakia, where asylum seekers will be housed in Slovakia while waiting for their cases to be processed.

Denmark considers sending refugees abroad
Photo: Søren Bidstrup/Scanpix

According to the Danish People’s Party (DF), one approach to limiting the number of refugees in Denmark may to export them abroad to neighbouring countries while their asylum applications are being processed.

The idea comes from the agreement reached between Austria and Slovakia last weekend, where Slovakia will house 500 individuals whom have sought asylum in Austria. Their cases will still be processed in Austria, but they will only be allowed to return to the country if they are later granted asylum.

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This differs from the Australian model that DF has also been a proponent of, where the country sends asylum seekers to places like Papa New Guinea while their applications are being processed, but even if an individual is granted asylum, Australia offers them a resettlement package in countries like Cambodia, Naura or Papa New Guinea.

DF MP Martin Henriksen argues that this could potentially be a measure that would help deter asylum seekers from coming to Denmark.

“One should not dismiss that the agreement Austria has made with Slovakia could lead to fewer people wanting to claim asylum in Austria. That’s why I believe that this is an exciting idea, and that we would like to investigate more closely to see if it is something that we can use here in Denmark,” Henriksen told Jyllands-Posten.

According to Eurostat, Slovakia is a far less popular destination among asylum seekers than either Denmark or Austria; only 60 people sought asylum in Slovakia in the first quarter of 2015. In comparison, nearly 6000 arrived in Austria just in May alone, and 828 in Denmark.

See also: Denmark to run anti-refugee advertisements

However, Henriksen argues that such an approach would be more attractive if individuals whom are granted asylum would not be allowed to live in Denmark, and instead resettled in some other safe haven.

DF is the largest party in the Danish blue bloc and its parliamentary support is vital for the Venstre minority government. Although DF is not in a formal coalition with the Venstre government, they have a major influence on government policy in areas concerning asylum and immigration.

Venstre MP Jacob Ellemann-Jensen believes that his party would be open to the idea of such a bi-lateral agreement with one of Denmark’s neighbouring countries, but envisages that it will be a tough sell.

“I find it difficult to imagine that either the Swedes or Germans would be willing to house a number of asylum seekers while we process their applications in Denmark, but if there is willingness to do so and it is legally possible, then we can be inspired [by the Austria-Slovakia agreement, ed.],” Ellemann-Jensen told Jyllands-Posten.

Earlier this month, the Danish People’s Party said it wanted the government to launch a video campaign clearly telling refugees to stay away, also inspired by the Australian government.

The proposal came under heavy fire, however, leading Ellemann-Jensen to dismiss the idea as 'un-Danish' soon after.

Denmark saw its asylum numbers nearly double in 2014, with 14,815 people arriving in the course of the year compared to 7,557 asylum seekers in 2013. A report from the Danish Immigration Service last month showed that 2015 is on pace to be yet another record year

Per capita, Denmark took in the sixth highest number of asylum applications in 2014. But due to its opt-out on EU Justice and Home Affairs, it is not participating in the EU plan to redistribute refugees even though this could see Denmark taking in fewer refugees than is currently the case.