The Syrian Opposition Coalition’s (SOC) Office of Syrian Communities Abroad held a virtual meeting with members of the Syrian community as well as a political and media activists in Denmark to discuss with them the recent decision by the Danish authorities to repatriate Syrian refugees.
The meeting brought together Coordinator of the Office Muhammad Yahya Maktabi, Coordinator of the Department of External Relations Abdulahad Asteifo, Coordinator of the Refugees Office Adnan Rahmoun, and President of the National Commission for the Missing and Detainees Yasser Al-Farhan.
The community members talked about the establishment of the Community Council in Denmark and the Council’s efforts to solve the problems facing Syrian refugees. They provided a detailed explanation about the Danish government’s decision to repatriate a number of Syrian refugees.
Members of the community asked questions about the SOC’s role in addressing such decisions. SOC’s members provided an explanation about the role that the SOC played to thwart the Russian project to return Syrian refugees, as well as about the meetings, letters, and memoranda it is sending to prevent any attempt to send refugees back to the regime-held areas.
Lawyer Muhammad Bertawi said that the establishment of the Syrian Community Council in Denmark aimed to bring Syrians there under one umbrella, represent them before the Danish authorities, and convey their concerns to local and international press.
Imad al-Halabi talked about the recent measures taken by the Danish government, including changes to the integration law and changing the residence permits for Syrian refugees from permanent to temporary, and revoking residence permits of Syrian refugees who come from Damascus and its countryside under the pretext that these areas have become safe. He pointed out that this decision will later affect Syrian refugees who came from other cities, such as, Homs, Hama, Quneitra, and the Syrian coast.
Journalist Ammar Hamou said that Denmark’s assessment of Damascus as safe relied on a fact-finding committee that draws information from press sources and researchers. He added that the committee used the information out of its context to claim that Damascus and its countryside are safe for the return of refugees, which is consistent with the committee’s policy of putting pressure on refugees and seeking to repatriate them.
Haifa Awad said that the decision to revoke residence permits for Syrian refugees was politically motivated as it aims to win the votes of the right that is growing in Denmark. She added that the revocations does not mean that refugees will be repatriated to Syria or elsewhere, but will be placed in detention camps where they will lose much of their rights, such as education.
Participants in the meeting agreed to hold joint activities and actions to persuade the Danish government to reverse its decision. They also decided to form a joint working group to follow up on the conditions of Syrian refugees in Denmark. (Source: SOC’s Media Department)