Denmark is standing firm on its anti refugee stance despite pressure from the European Union (EU) to take some of the thousands of asylum seekers that have been pouring into Europe over recent weeks.
Inger Støjberg, Denmark’s Integration Minister said there was “simply no reason” to bow to pressure for Denmark to participate in the EU’s plan to settle 160,000 asylum seekers, mainly from Syria.
“We have an opt-out – it is very well-known that we won’t participate in the redistribution of these 160,000 therefore I don’t think this is in any way something dramatic from a Danish viewpoint,” she said.
Denmark has been attempting to cut off the flow of refuge seekers by taking advertisements in four Lebanese newspapers with a very unmistakable and clear message: We don’t want you in Denmark.
The advertisements announced Denmark’s tighter regulations for asylum seekers and cuts in assistance for refugees. These include a 50 percent cut in social assistance for incoming refugees, while to receive permanent residency one needs to speak and understand Danish.
According to UNHCR figures 348,540 asylum applications have filed in European countries between 2011 and 2015, with 11,296 of these applications filed in Denmark.
Denmark’s firm stance on refugees is in contrast to a photo which has gone viral showing a Danish police officer playing games with a smiling Syrian child refugee. The photo was apparently taken last week when refugees started crossing into Denmark from Germany on foot after Denmark had stopped all rail traffic between the two countries.
Media experts say taking into consideration Denmark’s strict policy on Syrian refugees, the photo is most likely media manipulation.
The U.N has estimated that over the last four years, half of Syria’s population have been been displaced by deadly civil war there, with four million Syrians now refugees in neighboring countries, two million in Turkey and one million in each Jordan and Lebanon.