Immigration For Members

Danish politicians unwilling to come to rescue of refugee centre residents

The Local Denmark
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Danish politicians unwilling to come to rescue of refugee centre residents
The gates of the controversial Kærshovedgård deportation centre on Jutland. Photo: Bo Amstrup/Ritzau Scanpix

After a film highlighted the plight of the rejected asylum seekers trapped at Denmark’s controversial ‘departure centre’, MEPs have said it would be wrong to process stranded cases in Denmark.


On the back of the release of The Painter’s Room, a 23-minute documentary shot at the Kærshovedgård ‘expulsion centre’ in central Jutland, Denmark's public broadcaster DR wrote about the situation faced by Ketily, a 34-year-old from Eritrea, who has been stranded at Kærshovedgård and other centres for a year and a half. 

The Danish Refugee Council and the Red-Green Alliance party have both called for the cases of people like Ketily to be heard in Denmark, offering them a way out of their long limbo. 

According to the EU's Dublin Regulation, asylum seekers should have their case processed in the first EU country in which they were registered.

As a result between 70 and 100 refugees like Ketily are currently stranded, as Italy, the first country in which they arrived has since December refused to take back asylum seekers who were registered first in Italy but are currently resident in other EU countries. 


Social Democrats and Danish People's Party opposed 

Anders Vistisen, and MEP for the anti-immigration Danish People's Party, told DR that to process the cases of these asylum seekers in Denmark would be rewarding them for breaking the rules. 

"I certainly do not believe that you should give them positive preferential treatment because they have dragged their cases out by staying in Denmark," he said. "Then they will be getting better treatment than everyone else who has followed the rules and had their case dealt with where they first entered the EU."

People like Ketily, he explained, were gulity of so-called 'asylum shopping', travelling through five or six safe countries in the hope of getting asylum in the one where they could expect the best quality of life. 

"You shouldn't reward that, because then you create a precedent for everyone else to do the same." 


Christel Schaldemose, an MEP from the Social Democrats, said asylum seekers should have their cases handled as rapidly as possible in the countries where they arrive. 

"We cannot allow migrants to come to Europe and live without legal residency. If there's no grounds for protection or residency, the EU member countries need to get better at sending people back to their homelands." 

Vistesen said his party wanted Denmark to withdraw from the Dublin regulation, pointing out that in 2022 it had taken in 541 asylum seekers under the rules and only returned 472 to other countries.  

"It does not work and it has no effect. We receive more than we can send out. It is crazy to highlight it as part of the strict immigration policy when it has collapsed," he said. 


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