Refugee

Rwanda is not
a solution!

Denmark and Europe needs a fair & humane refugee policy - BUT this requires a political party, that delivers!


Did you know that Denmark is only able to suggest an MOU with Rwanda because of our opt-out from European cooperation?

Denmark's Juridical Opt-out enables Danish politicians to disregard EU standards. A fair and solidaric refugee policy begins with stronger cooperation with EU. With no opt-outs.

Volt has a shared policy for the way Europe should work with refugees.
We want to reform the Dublin Regulation and share the responsibilities more fairly among member states.

We want to:

  • Strengthen Danish lessons as learning the language is key to integration!that refugees receive the support they need and have access to the labour market from day 1!
  • Recognise that refugees rarely return home and therefore work harder to include newcomers in Denmark and Europe;
  • Conclude asylum applications faster to avoid limbo;
  • Actively involve civil society and businesses in active integration of newcomers;
  • Boost international coordination of the whole asylum process to prevent and reduce refugee crises;
  • Embrace differentiated roles in different parts of the world.

Our entire policy on refugees can be found in our Policy Portfolio under Global Balance: Volt polily on migration and asylum seekers

Volt does not want to give up our human rights and rule of law principles

and this is why we will not support sending asylum seekers to Afrika.

^

On Monday 21 November, EU Commissioner for Migration, Ylva Johansson, that EU wants to strengthen the rule of law in African countries, identify vulnerable women and children and reduce the number of victims of trafficking.

Ylva Johansson said, among other things:

"The EU Strategy focuses on four main areas of action:  Reducing the demand that fosters trafficking in human beings for all forms of exploitation. Breaking the business model of traffickers, online and offline. Protecting, supporting and empowering victims, especially women and children. And promoting international cooperation

In the European Union, criminals mainly traffic their victims for sexual exploitation. Nearly three quarters of all victims in the EU and 92% of the victims trafficked for sexual exploitation are women and girls. One in four victims of trafficking is a child. These trends are also reflected at the global level.

Demand fosters exploitation of vulnerable people. Taken advantage of by traffickers. Especially in high risk sectors and high risk environments. Bringing huge revenues to organised crime groups and others, who profit from the exploitation of the bodies, services and labour of trafficked victims

14 billion euro. That’s the estimated criminal revenue of trafficking for sexual exploitation in the European Union. In one single year
."

Fast forward two days and Manfred Weber, the German leader of the Conservative group in European Parliament, EPP, that the Danish idea of sending asylum seekers to Africa should be considered.

Article in Berlingske, 23.11.2022: Omstridt dansk asylforslag får støtte fra EU-parlamentets største gruppe.

Volt stands firm: We will not compromise our human rights and the rule of law. People have the right to seek asylum and they have the right to have their case processed in a timely manner and under proper conditions.

It is not in the spirit of the EU to outsource our responsibility to third countries. We in the Volt do not stand for that!

To must eliminate demand for women and children for sexual exploitation that does not happen by outsourcing asylum processing to African countries!

Tesfaye in Bruxelles - Hearing in LIBE on Rwanda

13 January 2022 - livestream

^

On Thursday 13 January, Denmark's then Minister for Integration, Mathias Tesfaye, appeared before the LIBE Committee members of the European Parliament to explain why he believed the Danish government should continue to outsource Danish asylum processing to Rwanda.

Livestream begins 11:19:01

Euronews: Denmark in talks with Rwanda over processig of asylum seekers.

Reuters: Denmark is talk with Rwanda on transfer of asylum-seekers.

Excerpts from the 40-minute hearing

^

On 13 January 2022, the then minister for migration, Mr Mathias Tesfaye, came before the LIBE committee in the European Parliament. This was in response to the Danish idea of outsourcing asylum seeker applications to a third country outside the EU – what has now become known as the Rwanda plan.

Tesfaye European Parliament

In Tesfaye’s initial statement, he argued that this topic had been discussed for a decade in the EU and that it was not the idea of the Social Democrats in Denmark. Later, however, when the idea was suggested to come from the right, Mr Tesfaye was eager to claim that the idea came from the Social Democrats, a left-wing party. ”I am a socialist, a unionist,” he proclaimed.

Anyone in Denmark would dispute this heavily: Socialdemokratiet in Denmark is now a center-right party.

Mr Tesfaye then went on to talk about addressing the root causes to illegal migration and that the UN quota system would be the baseline for legal migration. What he really highlighted, however, was the need to ensure social cohesion in Denmark and that this would be at risk, should migration numbers increase. A statement later questioned by members of Parliament: How is Denmark currently at risk of falling apart due to immigration?

Tesfaye finally said that with this proposal, Denmark aimed to establish a real partnership – to which we in Volt must reply: How about the partnership with the European Union?

Pretending that illegal migration can be stopped by one country, establishing one flimsy arrangement with a country run by ”a benevolent dictator”, is not sustainable and it is also clear that while the Social Democrats may think of themselves as pioneers, they are in fact just furthering their dislocation from their European partners in favour of trying their luck with partners outside of the EU.

Denmark, a country famously not located anywhere near the most affected European borders, should not be able to dispell their asylum seekers due to an opt-out to our European cooperation and we want to highlight some of the comments that were made during the committee session in January.

It shows that values persist and we must protect them, particularly in times of crisis. You can see the entire process here – from 11:20.

Question time

The S&D representative highlighted that this proposal was indeed not a social democratic idea, him being from the Social Democrats in the European Parliament and went on to accentuate the fact that Syrians being dispelled from Denmark simply went to other European countries. The lack of solidarity within the Dublin-agreement is shocking, as the Dutch Lighthouse Reports explains.

Renew group, which both Radikale Venstre and Venstre are part of, had the most poignant remarks as Ms in T’ Veld asked: ”How do you sleep at night?”

T Veld - EUropean Parliament How can sleep at night

As to the idea that third-country asylum processing countries had been discussed for many years in Europe, Ms T’ Veld replied: ”but not by mainstream parties who still adhere to mainstream values (…) What is the threat to Danish society and has that been averted?”

She also pointed out the psychological effects of not knowing one’s fate as an asylum seeker: ”How do you expect people to integrate when they don’t know if they may be booted out and sent back to Syria? How can the invest themselves?”

Finally, Ms T’ Veld concluded: ”You’re trying to to cater to the far right that is breathing down your neck. You amy not be bound by the European treaties, but you are bound by European values! And these policies are NOT in line with European values!”

This was followed by the Greens, who reminded Mr Tesfaye of the Danish responsibility after which she posed a number of very good questions, none of which Mr Tesfaye, nor the Danish government seems to have considered:

How will the processing of asylum seekers take place? What about impact assessments? Denmarm is creating a very expensive system to keep a few asylum seekers out of Denmark while in fact 85% of the world’s refugees and asylum seekers live in third-world countries already and now you are just adding to their numbers.

And on the integration of Syrians, the Greens echoed the concerns of the Renew group: ”You’re saying it’s going well with integration of Syrians, yet you are playing with it now – why? How are you reconciling this mutual trust and working with other member states whne you’re actually shifting the responsibility for Syrian refugees and your loytaly to the treaties. Shouldn’t you be fair and withdraw from the operations under the Dublin system?”

Then came the questions from Danish Peter Kofod from Danish People’s Party, who celebrated the move and even compared Social Democrats approach to asylum with the Hungarian approach to border fences, concluding with asking whether the Danish model was copying the Australian model?

Human Rights Watch condemning the Australian asylum seeker model

Amnesty: Australia: Appalling abuse, neglect of refugees on Nauru

While it is clear that Mr Kofod was happy with the opportunity to celebrate the policy that is so in line with the anti-migration line of the Danish People’s party, it seemed clear that Mr Tesfaye wanted to distance himself, stating: ”It’s important to uphold standards and the Australian model has not been the inspiration – in fact, it is EU-Turkey agreement that inspired Denmark.” Another model, that resulted in serious mistreatment of migrants along the European border.

Following this came an interjection from a member of the fascist party Fratelli d’Italia, Mr Procaccini, who was also very happy with Mr Tesfaye’s proposal: ”Fighting the darker side of multiculturalism should inform our migration policies.”

But he was also happy for another reason: ”Had your government been considered a centre- right party, your propsal would have geen a ingringement on the Rule of Law, but given your government is a left-wing government, a Social Democratic government, this isn’t the case.”

The Danish Social Democrats are now considered, however, a centre-right party and has been for some time.

Finally, Ms Bjørk from the Left said it quite bluntly: ”You have breached trust.”
”It would be very surprising if Denmark could stay in the Dublin Convention – they would have to be kicked out!”

Strik European Parliament

These comments are important to talk about in the Danish context because very few reports are coming from the European parliament and being reported back to Denmark and we need to hear these reports.

We in Denmark need to understand that the reputation of Denmark is not just being tarnished in international newspapers like the Guardian and the New York Times, but by our European neighbours while fascists and neo-nationalists praise the Rwandan-idea as a bolwark against multiculturalism and migration.

Migration is a way of life and does need to be managed – but in adherence to European values, not strongarmed through bilateral arrangements with third parties.

Refugee Policy - Opinion on the Melilla Tragedy

4 July 2022

^

The latest outburst of violence at the Spanish enclave Melilla left dozens of migrants dead and many police officers injured. It once again highlights the injustice and violations of human rights taking place at the EU’s external borders, as well as the absence of safe and regular pathways for migration.

With more droughts and famines on the horizon, a still-active epidemic and conflicts all over the world, this is a very pressing issue. We have to expect the number of refugees and people looking for a brighter future in Europe to increase.

The EU’s asylum and migration policy continue to degenerate into national efforts preventing people from entering the EU and isolating them upon their arrival. The violence at the Melilla enclave and violent returns are yet another evidence of ongoing pushbacks and state violence. T The violence we have witnessed in Melilla had to be expected. It was the result of policies that keep too many people stuck in inhumane conditions for too long against the repeated warnings of human rights organisations.

Besides the violation of the EU law and the fundamental principles of the EU Charter, the EU continues to pursue its containment by suffering policy, as seen in the form of pushbacks at the external borders and the financing of border controls in third countries. This makes the EU vulnerable to blackmail, be it from Libyan warlords or authoritarian regimes in Morocco or Turkey. In order to no longer be susceptible to this kind of blackmail by external actors with more than questionable human rights credentials, we have to build a fair and efficient asylum and migration policy.

Volt immediate demands:

  • Immediate independent and impartial investigation: Morocco and Spain must be open to an independent investigation to hold those responsible for the loss of life to account and to avoid repetition of such tragedies. The investigation should involve international experts and monitors to enhance impartiality, independence and effectiveness. 
  • Full reparation: The authorities should also provide full reparation for the human rights violations, including for refoulement by arbitrary pushbacks. Measures should also be taken to ensure access to justice for victims and their families. 
  • EU to stand firm against violations and strat infringement procedures, in case of systematic breaches: Stand firm against efforts to undermine the right to seek asylum and safeguards against collective expulsions and unsafe returns. 

Volt demands for a fair system: 

  • EU and Member States to establish a credible independent border monitoring mechanism: ensure that the scope of the monitoring applies to all alleged fundamental rights violations during activities on land and at sea. Findings and conclusions of such a mechanism should be publicly available and lead to actual consequences in the event of breaches. 
  • EU and Member States to put fundamental rights at the centre: Ensure that knowledge and respect for fundamental rights are at the centre of the recruitment of staff at EU and national agencies by also providing mandatory fundamental rights training, conducted by an independent third-party, ahead of their deployment.
  • Put human rights at the forefront of partnerships with third-country cooperation. Ensure that EU funds are not used to support border control and the training of coast guards who breach fundamental rights. 
  • Establish safe and regular pathways to help mitigate the resort to dangerous routes and reduce the risk of loss of life in the future.

Rockwool Foundation: Integration takes time

We must think long-term and invest in people!

^

The Danish socio-economic think-tank Rockwool Foundation, has published its study of 40 years of Danish refugee and integration policies (in English!) and summarise it thus:

  • Low benefits don't work - they build insecurity, not stability. Denmark has cut many social benefits as it was believed to motivate refugees to gain employment. However, studies show that while more people got into work in the short term, it did not lift refugees' attachment to the labour market in the long term.
    Living on a low economic basis creates insecurity and has a negative impact on women and children in particular - women are convicted of theft, more go to the doctor and there is an increased tendency towards crime among teenagers - short term benefit, long term bad effect.
  • Motivation means nothing without opportunity. The main reasons for getting into work are one's skills, knowledge of the labour market and real demand in the labour market. Therefore, the impact of start-up assistance differs - depending on whether real employment opportunities exist.
  • Language training and networking prior to employment. Language training and targeted housing management are found to have a long-term effect, whereas stricter requirements for permanent residence are not beneficial.
    Learning Danish takes time and early employment tends to delay or halt Danish language learning and thus long-term labour market attachment. Nevertheless, employment is a good indicator of having a good everyday life, but also how Danes in general view this group.
    The risks associated with quick employment without language learning is that if one ends up staying longer in the country, then the lack of language skills will affect ALL their integration going forward: when children have to go to Danish school, going to the doctor, develop skills in the labour market and so forth.

The presentation (in Danish) is here.

Abolish the Danish Juridical Opt-Out from EU

Let's stop the government special laws and discrimination

^

The new Special Law shows that we must also abolish the juridical opt-out!

On March 16, the Danish Parliament discussed the 2nd reading of the Special Law which will enable Denmark to comply with EU assistance to Ukrainian refugees.
The Special Law is necessary because Denmark has a juridical opt-out, which means that we do not automatically adopt the same rules as the rest of the EU.
So, while the EU has granted rights to Refugees through a Temporary Protection Mechanism (https://ec.europa.eu/info/strategy/priorities-2019-2024/stronger-europe-world/eu-solidarity-ukraine/eu-assistance-ukraine_en), Danish politicians had to discuss whether to actually grant the following rights to fleeing Ukrainians:

 - residence rights
- access to the labour market
- access to housing
- social assistance
- medical or other assistance
- unaccompanied children and adolescents have the right to legal guardianship and access to education
Why a special law in Denmark? Because we have a 30 year old legal reservation that means we do not automatically follow the EU. The same juridical opt-out has allowed government after government to make it difficult for refugees, migrants and asylum seekers to find a foothold in Denmark.

Some parties are now calling for a humanitarian refugee law. We could have that right away if we remove the juridical opt-out. That is what the EU guarantees. 
Tell your friends about the Volt - the pan-European party and get ready to give us your declaration!

Rejected citizens' proposal: the government should listen to citizens

February 2022

^

On 1 February, the Danish Parliament rejected the following citizens' proposal for a humane refugee policy in Denmark. What was rejected were proposals like these:

  • That Denmark should accept 500 UN quota refugees annually, just as before 2016;
  • That Embassies should be able to receive asylum applications;
  • To phase out departure centres and other incentivising measures;
  • To stop the withdrawal of refugees' residence permits.

We need a type of politics in Denmark!
We need politicians who dare to listen to citizens instead of creating division and fear.

This old fashioned type politics has to end!

The Citizen's Proposal

^
Proposal for a more humane and solidaric refugee policy in Denmark ID: FT-07167

Link to Citizen's Proposal page

Proposal
The following proposals represent the areas where action is most needed now and where both research and practical experience support that concrete actions could improve the current situation:

Expand the scope of the UN quota system:

Denmark should resume accepting quota refugees at least at the same level as before 2016, i.e. at least 500 per year. At both European and global level, Denmark should work towards a common and fair model for resettlement of refugees in cooperation with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

Asylum application at embassies/consulates and humanitarian visa:

Denmark should resume the possibility for asylum applications to be submitted directly at embassies and consulates. Denmark is one of the countries that had such a model until 2002. Another option is the issuing of humanitarian visas, which allow refugees to travel legally to Denmark themselves. EU rules already provide for the possibility of issuing such entry visas.

Phasing out of exit centres and so-called incentive measures:

If repatriation is in fact impossible, Danish legislation already provides for the possibility of granting temporary residence permits so that people do not live in degrading conditions but retain dignity and resources while contributing to society.
Refugees' residence permits should not be withdrawn:
Changes in 2015 and 2019 have meant that all recognised refugees in Denmark live in constant fear of being sent 'home' again. Residence permits are only granted for 2 years at a time and can be revoked at any time. At the same time, it has become almost impossible to meet the conditions for permanent residence. This uncertainty about one's future undermines integration efforts and is, according to the UNHCR, a completely wrong concept of refugee.

Comments on the proposal
There are many advantages to introducing the above proposals for more organised access to asylum and refugee protection.
First, refugees do not have to risk their lives and expose themselves to abuse in an attempt to circumvent Europe's increasingly stringent border controls.

Second, refugees avoid paying smugglers in expensive fines. The above measures have far greater potential to break the growing illegal migration industry than the current attempts at more controls and higher penalties for those involved.

Third, organised access to asylum offers a much better opportunity for receiving countries to screen and prepare applications in advance. For example, vulnerable groups who need to move on quickly can be identified immediately and priority given to refugees who are "stuck" and have no prospect of returning to their country of origin.

Finally, more organised arrival channels can improve integration by better ensuring that municipalities are prepared and able to match refugees' skills with local labour market needs, etc.

Grounds for the proposal:
We are facing a historic and serious refugee crisis. But more than a crisis of refugee numbers and a lack of global resources to protect people on the move, what we are experiencing is a crisis of refugee policy.

Control and deterrence policies have been Denmark's and other countries' response to the refugee crisis until now, but the paradigm Denmark and other countries have developed over the last 30 years is not working and does not give us the space to address the situation we face today.

Control systematically blocks access to asylum, feeds a growing migration industry, forces refugees to risk their lives to reach safety, pushes neighbourhoods to breaking point and keeps the majority of the world's refugees in camps and in economic dependency indefinitely with no prospect of moving on.

To solve the refugee crisis, we need instead an entirely different approach, one that discourages refugees from risking their lives and paying smugglers dearly, while easing the burden on neighbouring countries and ensuring greater solidarity between countries in the redistribution of refugees.
It is in Denmark's interest to help solve the refugee crisis and address the need for a greater degree of burden sharing and solidarity between countries.

We currently have a contradictory relationship with refugee rights in Denmark. On the one hand, we claim to respect the conventions in relation to those people who have managed to come here. On the other hand, we do everything we can to deny refugees access to the most necessary right: the right to seek asylum.

We demand that they learn Danish and support themselves, but at the same time we are sending out a signal with the legislation that they should never feel welcome and that the focus is on temporariness and return. That does not make sense.

The many restrictions have hit resident refugees far too hard and risk slowing down the positive employment gains for refugees and family members that we have seen over the past five years.

The current rules discourage integration, which weakens the possibilities to up-skill and train the labour force that is in demand, for example in the health sector.
Denmark is one of the countries that has most comprehensively introduced a number of asylum policy measures to avoid an increase in the number of asylum seekers.

These include the introduction of a new, temporary asylum category targeting Syrian refugees and the subsequent tightening of access to family reunification for these refugees within the first three years; the reintroduction of the low integration allowance and new requirements for obtaining permanent residence; and the desire to end spontaneous asylum and instead set up centres for asylum seekers in neighbouring regions.

By outsourcing responsibility for the world's refugees to countries in the vicinity, Denmark and other Western countries can effectively insulate themselves from the responsibility we would otherwise have if the refugees in question were free to travel here.

This increases the pressure on neighbouring countries, which are already under pressure, and creates an imminent danger of one or more countries backing out.

According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, 85% of all refugees stay in countries neighbouring their country of origin. For example, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey together host over 5 million Syrian refugees.

A continuation of the current policy risks causing the most heavily burdened recipient countries to succumb to the political and economic pressures created by the large numbers of refugees - a situation which risks sending millions of refugees onwards to other countries in Europe, including Denmark.

We will not solve the refugee crisis by restricting access to asylum and focusing on helping in the neighbourhood.
Although more money has been given to neighbourhood assistance, this falls far short of the investment in new forms of border control and agreements with third countries. However, billions spent on border controls and agreements with third countries have failed to prevent an overall increase in asylum seekers.

Neither does a bag of money from Denmark solve the problem. The large numbers of refugees need jobs, education and housing - something that the countries concerned already have a great shortage of. That is why we need to both support the neighbouring regions and receive more refugees in Denmark.

The huge sums of money refugees pay each year to move around have created an innovation race between people smugglers and border guards. In economic terms, increased border controls help to create this market, and more controls therefore only drive up profits.

If we are to break the cycle where more and more refugees are kept in camps and economic dependency indefinitely, it is crucial that Denmark and other countries help find solutions for this group.

Further tightening of Danish asylum rules and increased border controls are not the way forward.

We must avoid a system in which Denmark, through agreements and political and economic pressure, can shirk its responsibility for accepting refugees itself. Denmark cannot simply pass the buck to other countries simply because we have concluded bilateral agreements with them on the reception of refugees.

A system where spontaneous asylum seekers are turned away and sent on to countries that may not even be their neighbourhood can only work when and if these countries are able to genuinely provide protection in accordance with the standards of the Refugee Convention.

Unfortunately, there is a tendency to try to define countries politically as safe, even if they are far from it, as extensive reports on refugee rejections and lack of access to basic rights have documented.

It is therefore a controversial and unsustainable regime to deny access to seek asylum and to return asylum seekers if individual countries are generally not safe for the refugees they return.


*) Sources and references

Dansk Flygtningehjælp. 25 spørgsmål og svar om flygtninge. 2020.

Gammeltoft-Hansen, T. Sådan løser vi flygtningekrisen. Informations Forlag, 2016.

Lemberg-Pedersen, M. og Bendixen, M. 2018. Alternativer til flugt og afvisning. Maj 2018.

UNHCHR. Bedre beskyttelse af flygtninge i EU og globalt. UNCHR’s forslag til at genopbygge tilliden gennem bedre forvaltning, partnerskab og solidaritet. December 2016.  
Forslag stillet af

Rajesh Jesper Lillebæk Holmen København rajesh.holmen@gmail.com   Medstillere Kontaktoplysninger Michala Clante Bendixen København kontakt@refugeeswelcome.dk Mozhdeh Ghasemiyani Frederiksberg ghasemiyani@gmail.com Michael Graversen Rudersdal graversenmichael@gmail.com Anne Lise Marstrand-Jørgensen København almarstrand@yahoo.dk Jørgen Carsten Jensen København dencarstenjensen@aim.com

On third country asylum plans - Rwanda!

- we should not outsource our responsibility

^
Budget 3 - Danish refugees

If you look at the Danish Budget for 2021, it is clear that 426 million MORE has been allocated over the next 4 years for repatriations.

At the same time, about 35 million has been cut from the Refugee Board's budget - those who handle appeals.

In the non-binding MOU with Rwanda it is noted that Danish development aid funds are to be used to pay for Rwanda to process asylum seekers who have otherwise applied for asylum in Denmark.
The development funds will also be used to provide climate change technologies.

Volt wants Europe to reform our asylum system to enable a fair and effective system. The Danish government seems reluctant to want to participate.

We insist that Europe must stand firm on the values that founded the European Union: human rights and the rule of law.

We therefore want to strengthen the rule of law by making our asylum processes more efficient and fairer. We also want to strengthen legal migration by introducing new types of work visas.

The Danish government, on the other hand, wants to to it alone.
They want to make their own rules and that has a heavy price.

Budget Danish refugees

According to the Danish budget for 2021 100 million will be added to the Repatriation Agency while 155 more full time employees will be hired.

At the same time, the Refugee Board, which assesses asylum appeals, had its budget cut by 50% from 2018-2022.

Budget 2

This is the direction of the Danish government and we must change it.

Because we will not solve the migration issue independently. We must do it together.

As we have no control over where we are born, we need to give people dignity and opportunity - not outsource and reduce African countries to an administration hub for a rich, northern European member state.

This is the worst outcome of a failing European Union: that the challenges we face are NOT addressed, leaving it up to individual member states to take it upon themselves to 'solve' their national problems, focusing on national media and national voters.'

Without a vision of the need for a pan-European response to our migration problems, and without the Dublin Regulation being amended.

It will also mean that other anti-immigration countries like Hungary, Poland and others will look at Denmark and do as we do.

About the Danish children in Syria

- the children must come home, the parents prosecuted

^
YouTube: Hent børnene hjem nu  - ISIS skal ikke radikalisere en ny generation