Ghalia al-Asseh had simply begun learning chemistry and biotechnology on the Technical College of Denmark when the nation’s immigration providers summoned her for an interview.
For 5 hours, immigration officers requested about her proficiency in Danish, which she speaks fluently. They inquired how properly built-in she was in Denmark, the place she has lived along with her household since fleeing Syria in 2015.
In the course of the interview, in February, officers additionally instructed Ms. al-Asseh that the safety state of affairs in her hometown, Damascus, had improved, and that it was protected for her to return to Syria, she recalled in a phone interview final week.
Ms. al-Asseh, 27, was dropping her proper to reside in Denmark — at the same time as her 4 brothers and fogeys might keep, and he or she had nowhere else to go.
For the reason that Danish immigration providers stated in 2019 that they deemed Damascus and its surrounding areas protected, they’ve reviewed the residence permits of 1,250 Syrians who, like Ms. al-Asseh, left their nation throughout its civil conflict. The authorities have now revoked or not prolonged the residence permits of greater than 250 of them.
In doing so, Denmark has develop into the primary European Union nation to deprive Syrian refugees of their asylum standing, at the same time as Syria stays shattered. The bloc and the United Nations describe most areas in Syria as not stable enough to be thought-about protected for returnees.
These being requested to depart embody highschool and college college students, truck drivers, manufacturing unit workers, retailer homeowners and volunteers in nongovernmental organizations. All danger being uprooted from a rustic the place they’ve constructed new lives.
“It’s as if the Danish immigration providers has bombed my dream, simply as Bashar al-Assad bombed our properties,” stated Asmaa al-Natour, 50, referring to Syria’s president. “Solely this time the bombing is psychological.”
Ms. al-Natour was talking from the city of Ringsted, 30 miles southwest of Copenhagen, the place she and her husband reside. In February, the couple have been instructed that their residence permits wouldn’t be renewed, whereas their two sons, ages 20 and 22, can keep. The sons have been granted asylum on the idea of risking persecution in Syria.
Many of the 34,000 Syrians who’ve obtained residence permits in Denmark because the conflict started of their nation in 2011 haven’t had their residency reviewed. But the transfer to strip lots of of their authorized standing is the newest in a collection of measures by Denmark that rights teams say have focused migrants and minorities.
The authorities have imposed obligatory instruction in “Danish values” for youngsters in low-income and closely Muslim neighborhoods that the federal government labeled “ghettos,” and doubled punishments for sure crimes in these areas.
They’ve additionally overhauled the country’s legal apparatus on immigration, shifting it from integration to the accelerated return of refugees to their native international locations. Lots of of Somali refugees have additionally misplaced their residence permits after Denmark deemed Somalia protected to return to.
Per Mouritsen, an affiliate professor of political science at Aarhus College, stated the federal government had toughened its stance on immigration in recent times to keep away from dropping votes to the correct wing, a dilemma that a number of center-left events throughout Europe have confronted.
“The one approach to beat the right-wing in Denmark is to promote your soul to the satan and be as powerful on immigration in an effort to have assist for social welfare insurance policies in return,” Mr. Mouritsen stated.
Final yr, the variety of refugees leaving Denmark exceeded the variety of arrivals. Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen has vowed to go additional, saying that Denmark will goal to have “zero asylum seekers.”
Explaining the strikes affecting Syrians, Immigration Minister Mattias Tesfaye has stated that Denmark was “sincere from day one” with them.
“We now have made it clear to the Syrian refugees that their residence allow is short-term,” Mr. Tesfaye said in February.
For these keen to return to Syria, Mr. Tesfaye said that Denmark would provide “an enormous bag of journey cash.” The authorities say that lots of determined to return voluntarily.
Michala Bendixen, Denmark’s nation coordinator for the European Union’s website on integration, stated the coverage threatened to tear Syrian households aside. “The one objective is to make Denmark the final place to decide on as an asylum seeker,” Ms. Bendixen, who can be the chair of Refugees Welcome, a nonprofit, stated in an interview.
As a result of the Danish authorities doesn’t keep diplomatic relationships with Mr. al-Assad’s authorities, the authorities can not forcibly deport refugees. Since most of them are unwilling to return voluntarily, those that misplaced their appeals after their residency was revoked are prone to be despatched to departure centers.
The Danish authorities didn’t reply to questions on why the coverage was applied for Syrians and what number of had been despatched to departure facilities.
There, they anticipate months.
“Individuals danger sitting there for the indefinite future, with no prospect of being despatched again forcefully, however no probability of dwelling their lives in Denmark both,” stated Charlotte Slente, the secretary common of the Danish Refugee Council.
That may be the destiny of Ms. al-Asseh, who was notified final month that she will likely be requested to depart Denmark if she loses her attraction this yr.
The final one in her household to depart Syria in late 2015, Ms. al-Asseh obtained her residence allow months after her mother and father and siblings arrived in Denmark. As a result of she was not a minor, she couldn’t declare asylum by means of household reunification and needed to apply on her personal.
Whereas her brothers danger being drafted into Syria’s navy, Ms. al-Asseh was the one one to be summoned for an interview with the Danish immigration providers.
“I’m attempting my greatest to slot in, to contribute to the Danish society by educating myself, by paying my taxes,” Ms. al-Asseh stated. She added that her household had nothing left in Syria and that she noticed her future solely in Denmark. However, she stated, “that stigma round refugees, particularly Muslims, has been so hurtful.”
Syria is a rustic in ruins, with a collapsed economy and half of its prewar inhabitants displaced. Mr. al-Assad has reclaimed management of two-thirds of its territory, together with the Damascus space. He has also called on Syrians to come back, however many say they gained’t for one cause: Mr. al-Assad himself.
“So long as it’s not peaceable and the president remains to be there, we don’t need to return,” stated Hussam Alkholi, a 20-year-old highschool scholar and warehouse employee dwelling in Kolding in western Denmark.
Mr. Alkholi, who’s from the Damascus space, discovered in February that his residence allow in Denmark wouldn’t be prolonged, together with these of his mother and father and two sisters.
Rights teams have reported numerous threats towards refugees who return, together with conscription for males and arrest primarily based on the suspicion that anybody who sided with the rebels who tried to overthrow Mr. al-Assad is a traitor.
Lots of of returnees have disappeared, in keeping with the Syrian Network for Human Rights, and the European Union’s asylum physique has warned that voluntary returnees are vulnerable to detention, torture and demise.
“The absence of combating in some areas doesn’t imply that individuals can return safely,” stated Ms. Slente of the Danish Refugee Council.
Ms. al-Asseh, the chemistry and biotechnology scholar, stated she had tried to concentrate on her research since studying that her residency allow can be revoked. But she stated the considered beginning over once more terrified her.
“I’m not a hazard. I’m not a felony,” she stated. “I simply need to reside right here.”
Rick Gladstone contributed reporting.