Denmark’s Syria report: 11 out of 12 sources reject conclusion, leaving only Assad general in support

A further three expert sources on the security situation in Syria have publicly rejected the conclusions of a report compiled by Denmark’s immigration service.

Denmark’s Syria report: 11 out of 12 sources reject conclusion, leaving only Assad general in support
People demonstrate in Copenhagen on Wednesday against the Danish government's decision to withdraw the asylum status of refugees from Syria. Photo: Philip Davali/Ritzau Scanpix

The report has been cited by Danish authorities in deeming Syrian capital Damascus and its surrounding region safe for the return of some refugees.

The Nordic country has so far withdrawn the asylum status of at least 94 Syrians and is reviewing the cases of hundreds more. No other country in Europe has taken the position that anywhere in Syria is safe for the return of refugees.


Denmark’s judgement that Damascus and the surrounding area are safe for return is based heavily on reports produced under the auspices of the Danish Immigration Service.

Eight out of twelve expert sources used by the Danish government in its latest report (from October 2020) of the security situation in Syria earlier this week went public to distance themselves from the conclusions of the final report. A further three of those sources have since joined the others in rejecting it.

The only remaining source not to have rejected the report is a general in dictator Bashar al-Assad’s military, newspaper BT reports.

“We condemn Denmark’s decision to send Syrian refugees back on the assumption that Syria is now safe,” Rami Abdurrahman, founder of NGO Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said according to B.T.

In addition to Abdurrahman, Syria Direct journalist Walid Al Nofal and organisation Syrian Network For Human Rights joined the eight other analysts, researchers and experts who have already publicly rejected the conclusion of the report.

That leaves only General Naji Numeir, the head of the immigration authority in Assad’s regime, as the only source now to back the view that Syrian refugees in Denmark do not risk arrest, persecution or torture if they return to the Middle Eastern country.

Danish immigration minister Mattias Tesfaye said on Tuesday that he retains confidence in authorities’ assessment of the security situation in Syria.

READ ALSO: Protest in Denmark against plan to repatriate Syrians

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How the EU aims to reform border-free Schengen area

European countries agreed on Thursday to push towards a long-stalled reform of the bloc's migration system, urging tighter control of external borders and better burden-sharing when it comes to asylum-seekers.

How the EU aims to reform border-free Schengen area
European interior ministers met in the northern French city of tourcoing, where president Emmanuel Macron gave a speech. Photo: Yoat Valat/AFP

The EU home affairs commissioner Ylva Johansson, speaking after a meeting of European interior ministers, said she welcomed what she saw as new momentum on the issue.

In a reflection of the deep-rooted divisions on the issue, France’s Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin – whose country holds the rotating EU presidency – said the process would be “gradual”, and welcomed what he said was unanimous backing.

EU countries backed a proposal from French President Emmanuel Macron to create a council guiding policy in the Schengen area, the passport-free zone used by most EU countries and some affiliated nations such as Switzerland and Norway.

Schengen council

Speaking before the meeting, Macron said the “Schengen Council” would evaluate how the area was working but would also take joint decisions and facilitate coordination in times of crisis.

“This council can become the face of a strong, protective Europe that is comfortable with controlling its borders and therefore its destiny,” he said.

The first meeting is scheduled to take place on March 3rd in Brussels.

A statement released after the meeting said: “On this occasion, they will establish a set of indicators allowing for real time evaluation of the situation at our borders, and, with an aim to be able to respond to any difficulty, will continue their discussions on implementing new tools for solidarity at the external borders.”

Step by step

The statement also confirmed EU countries agreed to take a step-by-step approach on plans for reforming the EU’s asylum rules.

“The ministers also discussed the issues of asylum and immigration,” it read.

“They expressed their support for the phased approach, step by step, put forward by the French Presidency to make headway on these complex negotiations.

“On this basis, the Council will work over the coming weeks to define a first step of the reform of the European immigration and asylum system, which will fully respect the balance between the requirements of responsibility and solidarity.”

A planned overhaul of EU migration policy has so far foundered on the refusal of countries such as the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia to accept a sharing out of asylum-seekers across the bloc.

That forces countries on the EU’s outer southern rim – Italy, Greece, Malta and Spain – to take responsibility for handling irregular migrants, many of whom are intent on making their way to Europe’s wealthier northern nations.

France is pushing for member states to commit to reinforcing the EU’s external borders by recording the details of every foreign arrival and improving vetting procedures.

It also wants recalcitrant EU countries to financially help out the ones on the frontline of migration flows if they do not take in asylum-seekers themselves.

Johansson was critical of the fact that, last year, “45,000 irregular arrivals” were not entered into the common Eurodac database containing the fingerprints of migrants and asylum-seekers.

Earlier, German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser suggested her country, France and others could form a “coalition of the willing” to take in asylum-seekers even if no bloc-wide agreement was struck to share them across member states.

She noted that Macron spoke of a dozen countries in that grouping, but added that was probably “very optimistic”.

Luxembourg’s foreign minister, Jean Asselborn, hailed what he said was “a less negative atmosphere” in Thursday’s meeting compared to previous talks.

But he cautioned that “we cannot let a few countries do their EU duty… while others look away”.

France is now working on reconciling positions with the aim of presenting propositions at a March 3rd meeting on European affairs.