New asylum agreement a positive breakthrough

20.09.12

Category: Denmark, Asylum

In its new asylum agreement the Danish government allocated 40 million £ to ensure the ability of asylum seekers to live outside asylum centers, halve the processing time in the asylum procedure, implement labor-market initiatives and increase the counseling upon return of asylum seekers. The agreement marks a positive breakthrough in the Danish asylum policy, but also has challenges, said the Danish Refugee Council.

The government's new asylum agreement contains a number of positive elements that can improve conditions for asylum seekers in Denmark, one of the key elements is the ability for asylum seekers to live outside the asylum centers after a period of six months. However, the precondition of participation from rejected asylum seekers in their return if they want to remain living outside of asylum centers can provide some challenges and create a traffic back to the asylum centers.

"A rejection must of course be respected. However, It is sensible that the agreement states that the requirement of participation is waived in some cases involving families with children consisting a vulnerable group and in cases where such a demand is irrelevant because the home country does not agree to receive asylum seekers or the return has been put on hold because of issues of security or reasons of international human rights," says Secretary General of the Danish Refugee Council, Andreas Kamm.

The agreement will also ensure that the processing time in the asylum procedure is halved from the current 17 months to eight and a half months.

"The processing time in the asylum procedures and the ability to live outside the asylum centers are relevant areas of reform - asylum seekers are slowly worn down when they are inactively waiting in limbo for a long time in the centers. They are psychologically broken - this applies especially to children and unaccompanied minors constituting an especially vulnerable group," Says Andreas Kamm, also welcoming the fact that asylum seekers will have access to education and labor market.

"It is vital that asylum seekers, whether they are granted asylum or have to travel back to their home country, have the opportunity to develop their skills while they are here through access to education and labor market. The possibility of taking a job is a very positive signal - even though there is no guarantee that the asylum seeker can actually get a job, "says Andreas Kamm.

The agreement does not change the conditions for asylum in Denmark, but includes an improved counseling of rejected asylum seekers to be returned to their home country.

"Finally, I think it's good to focus on supporting the repatriation of rejected asylum seekers. If you have been in Denmark for years, there may be a need for special assistance for the return journey. Such assistance will hopefully solve some of the difficulties of repatriating people, "says Andreas Kamm.

Read the entire agreement of the Ministry of Justice website (in Danish)