Denmark: Refugee grandmother advised to return to Syria


Copenhagen, Denmark – Rihab Kassem, a retired nurse and grandmother of Syrian and Palestinian origin, arrived in Denmark greater than eight years in the past.

She had been living in Yarmouk, an unofficial camp in Damascus for the Palestinian refugee neighborhood in Syria.

Her preliminary plan was to go to Waled, her son who had been living in Denmark since 1996 and has lengthy been a citizen of the Scandinavian nation.

But after she arrived, because the conflict intensified in Syria, violence gripped her refugee camp.

She utilized for asylum and in January 2014, Danish authorities gave her a residence allow, legitimate for 5 years. That was then prolonged for an additional two years. Later, she was granted short-term safety standing.

Her new life grew because the one she had recognized in Syria light. She loved time in Europe together with her youngsters and grandchildren.

But early this 12 months, because the Danish authorities made a controversial choice to declare components of Syria protected sufficient to return to, her software for residence was rejected and she or he was referred to as in for an interview.

Kassem, 66, was nervous however hopeful.

Two months later, nevertheless, she was knowledgeable that her allow was revoked as a result of the Danish authorities thought of that safety in Damascus, the capital of Syria, and surrounding areas had improved sufficient to be referred to as home once more.

“Return to where? I have no one, nothing, in Syria,” she advised Al Jazeera. “My household lives in Denmark and I’m the one one who was requested to go away.

“We are not beggars here, we work, we work hard, we go to school, we pay taxes and this is happening to us … I cannot understand it.”

Kassem strikes and breathes with problem.

She says that her lungs function at 35 p.c of their capability, the results of an assault coordinated by the Syrian military utilizing toxic fuel.

She hoped to obtain medical therapy in Denmark however as a result of her residency allow was revoked, she is now not entitled to authorities help or nationwide healthcare.

“I worked for three decades as a nurse, my dream was to make enough money so I could build a hospital in my neighbourhood [in Syria]”, she mentioned.

She saved sufficient to purchase a plot of land and a home to be reworked right into a hospital. But throughout the renovation, the home was bombed.

“All of a sudden there was nothing left. Nothing,” she mentioned.

The official letter rejecting her residency software cited three causes.

The first was that her youngsters are adults and now not depend upon her. Secondly, the letter mentioned Damascus was thought of protected by the Danish authorities report and claimed her life wouldn’t be in danger. And lastly, whereas authorities recognised she has well being points, they mentioned they weren’t extreme sufficient to justify her keep in Denmark.

“The stress that I’m living is incomprehensible,” she mentioned. “The rules keep on changing, the government is not living up to their end of the contract.”

When Al Jazeera contacted the Danish Immigration Service for a response, a press officer shared the doc explaining why Kassem’s standing was revoked.

Rihab rejects all the federal government’s claims and, since May 18, has been protesting towards the ostensible efforts to deport refugees with a number of others in entrance of the Danish Parliament.

She intends to remain on the sit-in till she receives extra concrete solutions or is compelled to go away.

At one level, she went on a three-day starvation strike.

Hundreds of Syrians in Denmark have been thrust into the identical precarious place after the federal government’s extensively criticised declaration that Damascus was protected.

It was the primary European nation to make such an announcement.

But as a result of Denmark has no diplomatic relations with Syria – it doesn’t recognise the federal government of President Bashar al-Assad – refugees can’t be compelled again.

Rather, they are going to doubtless be despatched to deportation camps – or “departure centres” – contained in the Danish territory.

“They have a ‘tolerated’ status: deported from the political and social systems, but not physically deported,” mentioned Violeta Ligrayen Yañez, a contract facilitator and educator who has been working alongside the European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance.

Most will refuse to go. Some will try to search asylum elsewhere.

“They [Danish authorities] have two options: either they send me to a deportation camp or to a hospital, but I will not leave,” mentioned Kassem.

“Treat us like humans, we deserve to be treated like humans. We’ve seen so many hardships in Syria, in Lebanon, in Palestine and even when we come here to Denmark – supposedly a free country – this is happening to us … So my main message is that I want to be treated as a human. Syria is not safe.”


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