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Danish refugee board allows Syrians to retain asylum status

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Danish refugee board allows Syrians to retain asylum status
A file photo showing refugees in Copenhagen in 2015. Photo: Simon Læssøe / Ritzau Scanpix
16:27 CEST+02:00
The Danish Refugee Appeals Board, Flygtningenævnet, has ruled on six cases involving Syrian refugees who risked losing their asylum status.

The cases are seen as having put to the test the official policy to return refugees to their source countries once it is deemed safe to do so, established with the advent of the so-called ‘paradigm change’ bill.

The bill, passed by parliament earlier this year under the previous government, established as an official position the long-term aim of repatriating people granted asylum in Denmark.

But the six cases involving Syrian refugees all resulted in the individuals’ stays in Denmark being extended.

The outcomes mean that new minister for immigration and integration Mattias Tesfaye has avoided being the first Western immigration minister to return Syrian refugees, Dagbladet Information reports.

The cases hinged on the Danish Immigration Service (Udlændingestyrelsen, DIS) being able to demonstrate improved security in Syria, the newspaper writes.

But the appeals board did not find that the refugees could be returned.

All were given permission to retain asylum status in Denmark and some were adjudged to now have stronger cases for asylum, according to the report.

Should Denmark at a later stage rule that Syrian refugees should be returned, it would likely be the first Western state to revoke asylum for nationals of the Middle Eastern country, going against UN recommendations.

But the six cases could form a precedent which results in the extension of asylum status by DIS for thousands of other refugees, Dagbladet Information writes.

DIS officials travelled to Damascus with Danish Refugee Council staff last year in order to assess safety in the Syrian capital.

A report published in February did not contain specific recommendations but concluded that security had significantly improved in 2018 in Damascus, which is under the control of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

The Danish Refugee Appeals Board agreed with DIS that current conditions in Damascus were not of a character which would automatically place anybody in the area at risk of being attacked, Information writes. But current security conditions must also not appear to be temporary in character.

The appeals board did not make a direct judgement on this aspect.

Factors such as whether an individual had spent time in opposition-controlled areas, or had family members connected with opposition factions may influence the security of a person returning to Syria, the board found.

Therefore, although being in Damascus was not deemed to constitute an immediate safety risk in isolation, the unpredictable nature of the treatment of individuals by authorities in Syria -- rather than general conditions in the country -- was considered sufficient to allow protected persons to retain their asylum status.

READ ALSO: Denmark's new government to change rule for refugees, but few will benefit

 

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