Denmark: the first European nation to tell Syrian refugees to return home

Denmark: the first European nation to tell Syrian refugees to return home

Denmark has become the first European nation to tell Syrian migrants they must return to their home country, saying it is now safe for them there.

The Scandinavian nation has stripped 94 Syrian refugees of their residency permits after it determined Damascus and the surrounding area as being safe.

Migrants will be sent to deportation camps, but will not be forced to leave. 

Mattias Tesfaye, Denmark's immigration minister, said last month that the country had been 'open and honest from the start' with refugees coming from Syria.

'We have made it clear to the Syrian refugees that their residence permit is temporary. It can be withdrawn if protection is no longer needed,' he said.

His comments came as Denmark extended the parts on Syria considered safe for people to return, to include the southern Rif Dimashq Governorate.

'We must give people protection for as long as it is needed. But when conditions in the home country improve, a former refugee should return home and re-establish a life there,' he said. 

While Germany had previously ruled that criminals can be deported to Syria, Denmark is the first country in Europe to say refugees can be returned.

The decision made by Denmark on the Rif Dimashq Governorate now means that a further 350 Syrian residents in the country will have their temporary protection permits reassessed.

This is on top of the roughly 900 refugees from Damascus who had their cases reopened last year.

This came after a December 2019 ruling by Denmark's Refugee Appeals Board that the conditions in Damascus were no longer sufficiently dangerous to give grounds for temporary protection, without any additional personal reason to give asylum.