Despite Syria’s catastrophic earthquake, Denmark just intensified its inhumane policy of stripping Syrian refugees of residency. Hundreds of Syrians have been told to leave Denmark and return to Syria since 2019 – even though to this day over 15 million people in Syria need humanitarian assistance and the Syrian regime continues to kill, detain and torture thousands of civilians across the country. Now Denmark has added two additional governorates, Latakia and Tartous, to a list of areas of Syria that it wrongly deems safe.

Refugees face huge risk if they return to any part of Syria and no one should be forcibly removed from their place of living. Fayez Ahmad al-Sheikh, who fled Latakia in 2014, told news organisation Syria Direct how security forces came looking for him after his business partner’s father was detained and killed. “How is Latakia going to be safe if it is a lawless place where someone can be detained and killed and you can’t do anything about it?”

The Danish government has been widely condemned for its actions, including by its EU neighbours and the UN, yet it continues to pursue an anti-refugee agenda. But there is hope. Over half of orders to leave have been overturned at the appeals stage, and a recent election has shifted Denmark’s parliament. It’s our chance to show Denmark the world is watching and urge the government to finally change its course.

Demand that Danish Immigration Minister Kaare Dybvad Bek reverse his shameful policy towards Syrian refugees. Sign the petition and share widely.

The fact is, Syria is not safe to return to and Syrians have established their lives in Danish society. By stripping Syrian refugees of protection, Denmark is tearing families apart and putting hundreds of people at risk – people who have already fled a brutal war and survived unimaginable human rights abuses.

Danish authorities are expected to revoke the residencies of hundreds more Syrians in the coming months, which can split up families with different refugee statuses. They will be forced to either leave Denmark or move into deportation camps where they live in limbo under inhumane conditions and far from their friends, work and education.

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen’s anti-migration agenda is an attempt to appease far-right parties whose influence has increased in recent years. This racist decision sets a dangerous precedent for other countries that host refugees – but Denmark’s new coalition government could challenge this aggressive approach.

The pressure is working. Aya Abu Daher, who thousands of us rallied behind, managed to persuade an appeal board that returning would put her life in grave danger. But hundreds more refugees remain in an anxious position and lengthy appeals are causing enormous stress. Together, we can pile on a huge wave of public pressure and show Danish politicians that the world is watching, until Denmark scraps its policy for good.

Don’t let the Danish government get away with destroying refugees rights - sign this petition to demand protection for all Syrian refugees in Denmark.

Photo: Simon Skipper
Fayez Ahmad al-Sheikh’s story appeared in Syria Direct on March 29, 2023

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Tell Denmark: Syria is not safe for refugees to return. Reverse your shameful decision.

To: Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, Minister for Immigration and Integration Kaare Dybvad Bek, the Danish Refugee Appeals Board, and for the attention of all European governments.

I call on you to immediately renew the residency permits of Syrian refugees in Denmark who have been told to either return to Syria where they could face torture and human rights abuses or move into prison-like deportation camps. 

All Syrian refugees must be protected. Neither the UN nor the EU deem Syria to be safe – the Danish government must stop this inhumane act that is putting lives in danger. Other European countries must protect Syrians where Denmark is failing, and welcome any refugees who are forced out of Denmark by this cruel policy.

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