With so many people in limbo, Denmark was forced to change refugee policy | Refugee Stories

“I felt like I had been kicked out of the world,” Asmaa al-Natour told Al Jazeera via WhatsApp, a message from Sjaelsmark, the so-called “destination” in Denmark, north of Copenhagen.

A 50-year-old Syrian refugee and her husband, Omar, 54, were laid to rest on October 26, about a year after their residence permit was revoked last November.

She was forced to move out of a rented house for seven years in the inner city of Ringsted and is now separated from her two sons – Hani, 25, and Waseem, 21.

Two of the 90 Syrian refugees have been ordered to return to Syria since Denmark announced that parts of the country without war are safe from 2019, according to the Danish Refugee Council (DRC).

Al-Natour is frustrated with its status.

She states: “Denmark has ruined my life and that of my husband. “Ever since we first entered the penitentiary, we feel like we are lifeless.”

Most of the selected refugees are not forced to return – but if they refuse, they should be in places like Sjaelsmark, run by the Danish Prison and Probation Service – unable to work, study, or cook on their own. food.

Now, human rights groups are stepping up their efforts to force Danish to rescind its sentence, and to restore security for refugees – many of whom fear death if they return.

The Syrian capital, Damascus, and the rural areas have been identified as “safe” because they are “non-violent,” said Nadia Hardman, a researcher at Human Rights Watch.

“Our view is, yes, but what the Syrian authorities are pursuing is indiscriminate,” said Hardman, who recently visited Denmark to comment on his findings on the dangers facing the Syrian people.

Hardman met with officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark and the Ministry of Immigration in Denmark, including Minister of Immigration Matt Tesfaye.

At the time of writing, Tesfaye’s office had not yet responded to Al Jazeera’s request for comment.

Hardman has listed 21 cases of unjust imprisonment, 13 counts of torture, three counts of kidnapping, five counts of manslaughter, 17 compulsory killings and one count of sexual misconduct against Syrian immigrants.

Al-Natour is one of those who would fear death upon return.

“I fear for my life and for my husband if we return to Syria, because we will be arrested and killed,” she said.

Al-Natour was active in the early days of the attack on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

“Returning to Syria is like a death sentence for us,” he added.

Some Syrian refugees in Denmark – even those who can afford it – feel they have an opportunity to flee to Scandinavia.

“Syrian refugees from Denmark [have] deceived, “one Copenhagen refugee, who wants to remain anonymous, told Al Jazeera.

“When we made the decision to come to Denmark, Denmark had the most amazing government I have ever seen … they were doing well with the refugees.”

The man, who arrived in Denmark in 2014, has been granted political protection and works as a software engineer at headquarters. He will soon receive a residence permit.

But he worries that the Danish government is making drastic changes to immigration laws in recent years, and is saddened by the way Syrians are facing al-Natours, and the way prisons are coming.

Al-Natour, describing the conditions at that time, stated: “It is a very old place where people could not live. [and] unsuitable for animals. ”

The shared bathrooms are “old and dirty” and the rooms have no furniture, but have “black beds”.

Her mental health is also at stake as she is now separated from her sons. Their visas were also renewed because they had to join the army in Syria.

Eda Singer, a security official in the DRC, visits the area regularly to provide advice to Syrian refugees whose permits have been revoked.

“[It’s] not a place you should be at too long, “he told Al Jazeera.

But even a recent case brought before the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), Singer explained, when the court found Russia’s violation of the ban on deportation and deportation of Syrian refugees to Syria did not cause the Danish authorities to change their mind. .

Unlike Russia, Denmark does not compel Syrian people to return home, Singer further explained, meaning that the court cannot take immediate action on the Scandinavian refugee cases.

Liberal groups, however, say that direct pressure on Syrian refugees to return – which is contrary to UNHCR guidelines – could violate international law.

“There is a controversy over this indirect coercion [of] making people spend their days in restitution would be a violation of non-repayment, “said Hardman, noting that non-repayment is one of the most important laws in the world.

The measure prohibits the country from relocating refugees to places where there is a risk of rehabilitation.

Meanwhile, al-Natour and her husband are living in poverty – but they have no support.

Demonstrators and friends in their old Ringsted house walked to them and others, to take note of their plight.

“Ringsted has become known around the world as the first city in Denmark to abandon the Syrian family to a life of misery and inadequacy at the exit,” a Facebook page set up the show. “We will also be remembered for being a city that shows our compassion and is far removed from foreign Danish principles.”

Al-Natour awaits verdict on his case; appealed the government’s decision in May this year.

The only place he wants to return is from the city of refuge.

“My dream is to get back to my normal life, so that I can continue my education and life, while living with my neighbors … in my favorite city, Ringsted,” he said.

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