Human Rights Watch: Ukraine crisis reveals Denmark’s inconsistent refugee policy

NEW YORK — Recent reports indicated that more than two million Ukrainians have sought refuge across Europe, fleeing Russia’s invasion of the country which began on 24 February. Among them is Denmark, which has taken in a total of 1,733 Ukrainians as of this week, according to data from the Danish Immigration Service. The government has even fast-tracked a new law to welcome Ukrainian refugees fleeing the Russian aggression.

This is in stark contrast to the recent Danish policy on Syrians facing a similar situation. This year, the government began withdrawing residency from some Syrian refugees, in an attempt to force them to return to their country of origin, claiming that some places there have become safe.

A recent Human Rights Watch report highlighted this contraction.

The report stated that the Danish treatment of Ukrainian refugees is commendable. However, “invoking European solidarity does not justify the mismatched treatment for Syrian refugees, some of whom have been stripped of their basic rights and forced to remain in deportation centers. They were left with the choice of living deprived of work and education, or returning to Syria,” HRW stated.

Denmark’s unequal treatment of predominantly black and brown non-Christian and non-European asylum seekers risks perpetuating this unfair attitude, according to HRW. Multiple human rights NGOs have called upon Denmark to reinstate temporary protection for all Syrian refugees and widen its embrace of Ukrainian refugees to include others as well.

Similar developments can be seen in other eastern European countries, where for example Poland has as of today taken in 2 millions Ukrainian refugees from the recent fighting, yet has been the most vocal opponent of housing any Syrians experiencing the same circumstances for the past 11 years.