Syrian student who drew support of thousands wins right to stay in Denmark

Aya Abu Daher has residency reinstated but hundreds of refugees face deportation to 'safe' Damascus

People attend a demonstration to protest against the deportation of Syrian refugees in Copenhagen. Getty
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A Syrian refugee has won her appeal against the Danish government’s decision to cancel her residency and its attempt to send her back to her war-torn country.

Aya Abu Daher is one of several hundred Syrian refugees in Denmark who were told they must return to Syria after the Danish Immigration Ministry said the Damascus area was safe.

Ms Daher’s case drew public attention when the 19-year-old student, who speaks fluent Danish, appeared on national television and moved viewers when, holding back tears, she asked what she had "done wrong".

The Scandinavian nation was the first in Europe to tell refugees from Syria it was safe to return, prompting widespread condemnation from international rights groups and protests in Denmark.

Human rights advocacy group the Syria Campaign says Denmark cancelled the residency status of at least 380 Syrian refugees. The government is expected to continue with its anti-immigration policy in a bid to appease the increasingly influential far-right Danish political parties.

Last summer the cases of about 500 Syrians from Damascus and the surrounding area were re-examined, when Danish immigration authorities concluded that "the current situation in Damascus is no longer such as to justify a residence permit or the extension of a residence permit" in Denmark.

'Temporary residents' were placed in a detention centre pending their deportation. but due to a lack of diplomatic ties between the two countries, Syrians can either return voluntarily or remain in detention indefinitely.

Updated: July 16, 2021, 9:44 AM