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Syrian refugees no longer welcome in Denmark

When Denmark became the first European country last month to revoke residence status for more than 200 Syrian refugees, it faced condemnation from EU lawmakers, the UN refugee agency and human rights groups.

Authorities in Copenhagen argue that parts of Syria are now safe enough for refugees to return.

But the issue has proved divisive and activists and community groups have planned protests in several cities on Wednesday in support of the refugees.

For a country with a liberal reputation, Denmark has become known for repeatedly tightening its immigration policies in recent years.

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In a separate move, it recently signed a migration agreement with Rwanda, leading to speculation that it intends to open an asylum-processing facility there.

Short presentational grey line
Danish authorities notified Sara’s family in February that she, her parents and younger siblings could no longer stay.

“All my life is here. How can I go back to Syria now?” says the 19-year-old, who speaks fluent Danish and is due to sit her final high-school exams next month. She dreams of becoming an architect, but after six years in Denmark her future in Denmark is now in doubt.

They are among more than 200 Syrian nationals who have had their residency withdrawn on the grounds that Damascus and the surrounding region are now considered safe.

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Her father Mohammed was a lawyer in Syria but came to Denmark in 2014 when his life was endangered. The rest of the family fled the war a year later, travelling via Turkey and Greece.

Two weeks ago their appeal was rejected and they’ve been given 60 days to leave.

They fear arrest and torture under President Bashar al-Assad’s rule. “It’s risky for every single person who left Syria to go back,” she says.

Her father has been running a restaurant and said: “We stopped taking money from the [Danish] government four years ago.”

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