A controversy has erupted in Denmark after the government asked Syrian refugees to return to their home country despite the civil war. Meanwhile it works on legislation to suspend asylum rules for Ukrainians fleeing their country.
A controversy has erupted in Denmark after the government asked Syrian refugees from Damascus and its surrounding countryside to return home despite the ongoing civil war. Meanwhile, the cabinet is drafting legislation that will suspend asylum rules for Ukrainians fleeing their country after the Russian invasion.
"When there is war in Europe and a European neighbor is exposed to what we see in Ukraine, there is not the slightest doubt in my mind -- we must help as best we can" by "welcoming Ukrainians on Danish soil", said Mattias Tesfaye, the Danish minister for foreign affairs and integration, soon after Russia invaded Ukraine in late February, CNN reported.
In practice, the proposed legislation will make it easier for Ukrainians to obtain a stay permit "so they can quickly start in school, on an education or in a job."
The measure would align with the EU granting temporary protection for Ukrainians, enabling them to enter the bloc without a visa and to choose which member country to go to. Those eligible would be granted a status similar to that of a refugee in any EU country for a year, which could be reviewed in future.
Accusations of hypocrisy
However, critics are accusing the Danish government of hypocrisy given that it is urging Syrian refugees from Damascus and its surroundings to return home where a war is still ongoing, "putting them in danger," according to activists.
The Danish minister for immigration said all refugees were treated in the same way in a statement published by CNN. "All persons applying for asylum in Denmark have the same rights in the Danish asylum system," he was quoted as saying.
He added that some 30,000 Syrians who have been granted a residence permit in Denmark since 2014 still live in the country.
But Michala Clante Bendixen, the head of Refugees Welcome Denmark, was quoted as saying by CNN that the migration crisis in 2015 showed that if people arrive from Afghanistan or Syria, "they will be called migrants" until they obtain refugee status.
"But now we immediately call Ukrainians refugees. What's the difference?" Bendixen reportedly asked.