Denmark becomes the first European country to send refugees back to their home country after telling Syrian migrants that it is now safe for them there.
94 Syrian refugees have been stripped of their residency permits after the Scandinavian nation determined Damascus and the surrounding area to be safe.
“We have made it clear to the Syrian refugees that their residence permit is temporary,” said Denmark’s immigration minister Mattias Tesfaye.
“It can be withdrawn if protection is no longer needed.”
“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,” Tesfaye added.
According the government, Syrian migrants will be sent to Danish deportation camps, and will not be forced to leave.
The decision means that the temporary protection permits of around 350 Syrians need to be reviewed, followed by some 900 more whom had their cases reassessed last year.
Human rights groups have called out the country’s decision to send people back to a country still torn by war.
“That the Danish government is seeking to force people back into the hands of this brutal regime is an appalling affront to refugee law and people’s right to be safe from persecution,” said Amnesty International UK migrant rights director Steve Valdez-Symonds.
“This reckless violation of Denmark’s duty to provide asylum also risks increasing incentives for other countries to abandon their own obligations to Syrian refugees.”
“Not only will this put the lives of even more women, men and children at risk. It will add to reasons that cause people to travel ever further afield in search of safety and security for themselves and their family,” he added.
Denmark’s decision comes after UN investigators reveal that thousands of civilians had endured “unimaginable suffering” in the war-torn country.