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IMMIGRATION

Norway suspends deportation of rejected asylum seekers to Afghanistan 

The Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI) and Immigration Appeal Board (UNE) said on Wednesday it would stop forced returns to Afghanistan due to the deteriorating security situation in the country.

Norway suspends deportation of rejected asylum seekers to Afghanistan 
The UDI and UNE has suspended deportations to Afghanistan. Photo by Tingey Injury Law Firm on Unsplash

The UDI and UNE will not enforce any returns for individuals to Afghanistan due to the escalation of conflict between the Taliban and Afghan authorities, which the UDI said in a statement has led to a deterioration of the security and humanitarian situation. 

The withdrawal of foreign military forces from Afghanistan has led to intense fighting between the Taliban and government forces in the country. 

The deportations will be suspended until September 15th, 2021. 

This means those who have received a final decision on asylum claims or residence applications and have been told they will need to return to Afghanistan will not be obliged to do so until the suspension is lifted. 

The rules will apply to anyone who

  • Has had their application for asylum rejected
  • The decision has been made to deport them from Norway
  • Had had their residence permit revoked
  • Is living in Norway but have had their application for a residence permit rejected

The decision to postpone the deportations has been pushed back until September 15th because all foreign military and peacekeeping forces in Afghanistan will withdraw from the country by the end of August. 

READ ALSO: How did Covid-19 affect immigration in Norway in 2020?

This will give the UDI and UNE time to reassess the situation and whether the suspension should be extended further or lifted, the agencies said. 

People whose cases are covered by the Dublin III convention or the First Asylum Rule will not be covered by the suspension. This means they will be returned to the first European country in which they sought protection. 

The UNE said it did not have figures for the total number of Afghan citizens who are due to be returned to Afghanistan. 

The Police Immigration Unit has said it is aware of the new rules so that no people who fall under the suspension will be forcibly returned to the country. 

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IMMIGRATION

Denmark suspends asylum centre talks with Rwanda

Denmark now aims to work with other EU countries to transfer asylum seekers to centres outside Europe and has suspended talks with Rwanda as it no longer plans to go it alone, its migration minister said on Wednesday.

Denmark suspends asylum centre talks with Rwanda

The Scandinavian country’s plans, first announced by the previous Social Democratic government, called for people seeking asylum in Denmark to be transferred to reception centres outside the European Union while their requests were processed.

A law adopted in June 2021 did not specify which country would host the centre, but said asylum seekers should stay there even after they were granted refugee status.

Discussions were launched with Rwanda and other countries, but they have now been suspended since the installation of a new Danish left-right government in December headed by the Social Democrats.

“We are not holding any negotiations at the moment about the establishment of a Danish reception centre in Rwanda”, Migration and Integration Minister Kaare Dybvad told daily Altinget.

“This is a new government. We still have the same ambition, but we have a different process”, he added. “The new government’s programme calls for the establishment of a reception centre outside Europe “in cooperation with the EU or a number of other countries”.

The change is an about-face for the Social Democrats, which had until now rejected any European collaboration, judging it slow and thorny.

“While the wider approach also makes sense to us, [Denmark’s change of heart] is precisely because there has been movement on the issue among many European countries”, Dybvad said. “There are many now pushing for a stricter asylum policy in Europe”, he said.

READ ALSO:

Inger Støjberg, leader of the Denmark Democrats said on Facebook that she was “honestly disgusted” by the government’s decision to delay plans for a reception centre in Rwanda, pointing out that Kaare Dybvad had said during the election campaign that a deal would be done with Rwanda within a year. 

“Call us old-fashioned, but we say the same thing both before and after an election. We stand firm on a strict immigration policy. The Social Democrats, Liberals and Moderates clearly do not,” she said. 

Lars Boje Mathiesen from the New Right Party accused the government of perpetrating a “deadly fraud” on the Danish people. 

“It is said in Christiansborg that it is paused. But we all know what that means,” he wrote on Facebook, accusing Danish prime minister Mette Frederiksen of “empty words” in the run-up to the election. 

In the face of this reaction, Dybvad told the Ritzau newswire that although talks with Rwanda were not happening at present, the government had not given up on a deal with the African nation. He also said that he was confident that asylum reception centres outside of the EU would be a reality within five years.

EU interior ministers are meeting in Stockholm this week to discuss asylum reform. Those talks are expected to focus on how to speed up the process of returning undocumented migrants to their country of origin in cases where their asylum bid fails.

Denmark’s immigration policy has been influenced by the far-right for more than 20 years. Even Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, the head of the Social Democrats, has pursued a “zero refugee” policy since coming to power in 2019.

Copenhagen has over the years implemented a slew of initiatives to discourage migrants and made Danish citizenship harder to obtain. In 2020, it became the only country in Europe to withdraw residency permits from Syrians from Damascus, judging that the situation there was now safe enough for them to return.

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