Denmark is a tiny welfare state known around the world for its liberal values. A quick Google search on Denmark will likely yield articles on affluence and social equality. Denmark is the 23rd richest country in the world, with an average yearly household net-adjustable disposable income of $26,491 per capita. It is the sixth most expensive country to live in, yet it was voted the happiest country in the world in 2016. However, not everyone is happy.
Denmark refugees are exposed to a slew of hardships at the hand of the Danish government. With the recent influx of refugees, like many countries across Europe, Denmark has begun tightening the strings on its immigration policies.
Here are 10 facts about Denmark refugees that illustrate the changing legislation and resulting turmoil for its refugees.
- Following World War II, Denmark helped lead the way on issues like refugee protection, human rights and development aid.
- Since 1983, the Danish Aliens Act (DAA) has been amended more than 100 times. As of 2001, the DAA has been amended nearly once every two months. In 2015, Denmark received nearly 21,000 asylum seekers. This made the nation, whose total population averages 5.6 million, one of the leading receivers of refugees per capita across Europe.
- Denmark’s current refugees are predominantly from Asia, although Africa also contributes largely to those seeking asylum in the Scandinavian country.
- Denmark began adopting a stronger anti-immigration stance shortly after refugees started entering the country in 2015. The Danish government went as far as posting advertisements in Arabic and English in Lebanese newspapers advertising Denmark as an undesirable destination for incoming refugees.
- The ads in Lebanese papers warned readers that the country had cut welfare programs for refugees by 50% and that any refugees whose petitions were rejected would be kicked out “quickly”.
- Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke suggested revising the 1951 Refugee Convention to be more restrictive in December 2015. Not only was Denmark integral in writing up this treaty, but it was also the first country to ratify it.
- In February 2016, Denmark’s legislative officials approved a law mandating that newly arrived refugees who enter the country with more than 10,000 kroner (roughly $1,450) in valuables must help fund their stay. While objects with sentimental value, like family heirlooms and wedding rings, are exempt from seizure, gold and jewelry are listed among assets that may be taken.
- In March, Denmark passed a bill restricting family reunification for Syrian refugees for up to three years.
- The new Denmark citizen test — which any refugee seeking citizenship will have to pass — is so difficult that, according to the Integration Ministry, over two-thirds of prospective new citizens who took it for the first time this past June failed. The test, which covers everything from Danish films and restaurants to local government and Viking history, is so difficult that even Danes have a hard time answering its questions.
- Since passing more restrictive legislation, Denmark has received record lows of Denmark refugees. The latest figures from the Scandinavian Ministry of Immigration show that only 36 foreigners asked for asylum from Aug. 22 to Aug. 28. This is an unprecedented low for 2016.
There has been an outcry from both the global and the Danish community at Denmark’s recent adoption of austere policies regarding immigration. However, the government seems to stand by its decisions, citing the safety of its people and maintaining economic stability as reasons for its increasingly strict actions. Luckily, many refugees are able to find asylum in other countries throughout Europe.
If you wish to partake in helping refugees from Syria and elsewhere, there are a plethora of credible groups to send donations, including U.N.’s International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and Doctors Without Borders.
– Kayla Provencher