People who immigrate to Denmark illegally and seek asylum will soon be transported 700 km away and placed in a Danish asylum centre in a Central African country.
For several years already, the Danish government has sought a country that is willing to accept immigrants seeking asylum in Denmark, while the asylum process is being processed. Jyllands-Posten announced that the African country Rwanda was ready to receive Denmark’s asylum seekers. Denmark’s integration minister Mattias Tesfaye said they were negotiating with several countries, but did not want to confirm whether Rwanda was one of these.
According to the Danish daily, Rwanda’s president Paul Kagame could be “the man who fulfils the Social Democrats’ asylum dreams’. The news came on April 1, but in Denmark there were few people who thought it was an April Fool’s joke. The Danish Social Democratic government has for several years had a very restrictive line on immigration and has also initiated an active return policy of Syrians. The government has been open about wanting to sign a bilateral agreement with another country, to receive Danish asylum seekers so that they removing them from Danish society while their asylum status is being investigated.
The government is currently said to be negotiating with several different countries on the issue. Jyllands-Posten, which is Denmark’s largest daily newspaper, seems to be at the forefront of advocating that Arab and African asylum seekers be sent out of the country. In the article, the newspaper writes that they themselves have contacted several countries requesting a piece of land to be able to build an asylum centre where asylum seekers are deported pending investigation.
Libya and Morocco have declined, but Rwanda says it is positive
“Rwanda already has facilities for asylum seekers and we appreciate the cooperation with Denmark in this area. We are open to more cooperation and new proposals, which can lead to offering suitable conditions for asylum seekers “, the Rwandan embassy responded to Jyllands-Posten.
Denmark and Rwanda’s cooperation in the area of migration policy has been ongoing for several years. Among other things, Denmark has donated SEK 21 million to a project where refugees who are stuck in Libya on their way to Europe are instead transported to Rwanda. Last year, Denmark received 200 quota refugees from Rwanda. For several years, Denmark had refused to accept quota refugees at all, but it was resumed on a smaller scale a few years ago.
Whether the Danish government will actually sign an agreement with Rwanda is still unclear, but Integration Minister Mattias Tesfaye writes in a comment to Jyllands-Posten that Rwanda was a “progressive” country that played “an incredibly positive role”. He also confirmed that negotiations were underway with current countries, but did not want to reveal whether it was Rwanda.
“We have identified a handful of countries, where we see opportunities to enter into cooperation. Based on that, we will move forward with more concrete dialogue. For the time being, we would like to keep these conversations confidential,” he told the newspaper.
Rosa Lund, integration policy spokesperson for the left-wing party Enhetslistan, was furious and tweeted that she was “very worried”: “Rwanda is not directly known for its democracy. I am very worried about locating a reception centre there, when we could instead open all closed asylum centres in Denmark.”
Rune Möller Stahl, a researcher at the University of Copenhagen, pointed out that the Kagame government had attacked refugees in the Congo in the 1990s and killed tens of thousands. “Are we sure he is the one we want to outsource our refugee policy to?”
Meanwhile, Social Democratic Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said that it was obvious and logical that Syrians who come from areas in the country that can now be considered safe enough to stay in should of course return home. According to the newspaper Jyllands-Posten, it is about hundreds of Syrians who in the coming months will return home to, above all, Damascus and surrounding areas. Prime Minister Frederiksen also engaged in some self-criticism and said that Danish refugee policy should have been clear and unambiguous from the outset.
In the coming months, Denmark will be the first EU country to start repatriating Syrian asylum seekers coming from the Damascus region. The areas around the capital are now considered by the Danish government to be so safe. On Tuesday 13 April, the PM made a statement that can not be understood in any other way than that the return policy was self-evident, surprising for a Social Democratic Prime Minister.
“For me, it is completely obvious and logical that they return home if the areas they came from are safe enough for that.” She continued: “I completely share that analysis! If you are a refugee, but no longer meet the requirements for protection needs and you are no longer personally persecuted, then you should go home, as simple as that.”
She also added that the Syrian asylum seekers should perceive it as a patriotic duty to return home to their homeland and use any skills they acquired during their stay in Denmark to rebuild their homeland.