Denmark expels Iraqi asylum seekers

danishrefugees-3929292A charter flight left Copenhagen bound for Baghdad last week containing 22 Iraqi asylum seekers who refused to leave the country voluntarily after their asylum applications were rejected.

The 21 men and one woman were part of a group of 60 who had sought refuge inside a church in the capital. Police controversially stormed the church in August, removing the group who have since been held in a detention centre in Copenhagen’s north.

The forced repatriation has sparked debate in a country renowned for its strict immigration laws ever since the right wing government came to power in 2001. Integration Minister Birthe Roenn advised reporters the move was taken due to the Iraqis’ failure to meet Danish asylum criteria, and rebuked suggestions that the group could face victimisation upon returning to their homeland.

Roenn confirmed that the governments of the two countries has signed a repatriation agreement earlier in the year and suggested additional asylum seekers pre-empt deportation by leaving voluntarily. Roenn claimed during interviews that global insecurity was widespread and that in itself was not sufficient reason to grant asylum.

The forced return has sparked debate across Denmark, with a number of left-wing political groups speaking out against the decision and claiming they would not hesitate to provide aid and shelter to any additional Iraqis which the government sought to repatriate.

Members of the Social Democratic Party and Socialist People’s Party told the Politiken newspaper that they would be happy to open their doors to asylum seekers, saying that the nation should side with humanity, rather than arcane laws.

The newspaper also pointed fingers at five other Danish members of the public who had provided aid to Iraqi workers, including a social worker and a doctor who had treated a pregnant woman. The government and its allies have claimed that offers of unlawful assistance were disturbing.

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