Denmark rejects Syrian asylum claims on basis that Damascus is safe

Security situation in Syria’s capital deemed to have improved as regime tightens grip

Syrians shop in the Hamidiya bazaar in the old city of the Syrian capital Damascus on December 3, 2019. / AFP / LOUAI BESHARA
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Denmark has rejected the asylum applications of three Syrians on the basis that their home of Damascus is "safe" to return to, in what is believed to be one of the first cases of its kind.

This was despite an acceptance by immigration authorities that the situation in many parts of Syria remains highly dangerous and serious and arbitrary violence remains likely.

One ruling said the security situation in the Syrian capital has “improved significantly” since May 2018, given the reduced number of checkpoints in the city.

A decision by Denmark’s immigration agency in February this year said the changed situation in Syria did not mean that nationals from some parts of the country could automatically qualify for refugee status.

The regime of Bashar Al Assad has steadily retaken large amounts of territory back from rebels, especially in the west of the country. The situation in Damascus province was deemed to have particularly improved.

Places such as Idlib province in north-west Syria remain highly volatile as the regime and its allies bombard rebels.

“We went to Damascus in March (2018) and made a report,” Anders Dorph, deputy director of the Refugees Appeals boards, said in February.

"We were there again in November. It is our view that there has been a long period in which there has not been a large number of combat situations."

One applicant, a Kurd, said she feared the situation in Syria and worried she had no life to return to as a divorced woman.

She said she was scared that her children could be raped or kidnapped.

But it was ruled that bad economic conditions in Damascus, which would have hindered her ability to support her four children, were not strong enough reasons to be given Danish residency.