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    In this picture taken Friday, Jan. 20, 2017 from the balcony of the Abdul-Hamid Khatib home, people walk through mounds of rubble which used to be high rise apartment buildings in the once rebel-held Ansari neighborhood in the eastern Aleppo, Syria

    'Reunite With Families in Aleppo' - Danish Party Tells Syrian Refugees

    © AP Photo/ Hassan Ammar
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    Europe's Refugee and Migrant Crisis (103)

    Amid ongoing budget negotiations in the Danish government, the anti-immigrant Danish People's Party has demanded further asylum curbs owing to a toughening of rules on family reunification.

    As part of the bargaining over the proposed new budget and tax cuts, the Danish People's Party (DF) has ventured that the country's Syrian refugees could soon return to Aleppo rather than seek re-unification with their families in Denmark.

    "It is clear that if you are able to soon return to, for example, Aleppo in Syria, that's where family reunification should happen. That's where the asylum seekers should get help rebuilding their houses and making their future. Not by getting family reunification in Denmark," DF leader Kristian Thulesen Dahl said, as quoted by the Danish TV channel TV2.

    According to the DF, allowing family reunification in Denmark would make it more difficult to return asylum seekers even once their home countries are deemed safe to return to. Blocking family reunification would thus be a signal to asylum seekers that their stay in Denmark is only temporary.

    At present, temporary asylum is commonly granted for a three-year period, after which asylum seekers must reapply to remain in the Nordic country and become eligible to bring their families to Denmark. A change of rules will thus affect a large group of Syrian refugees who arrived in Denmark in 2015.

    Denmark's Liberal Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen appeared to be ready to change the rules on family re-unification, as well as on the return of asylum seekers granted temporary residence, to please his parliamentary allies from the DF.

    Should the DF's requirement be fully met, up to 4,200 Syrians will be excluded from family reunification provisions, signaling a radical change in Denmark's asylum policy.

    By his own admission, Thuselen Dahl wanted the changes to eventually apply to all asylum seekers, including those granted permanent asylum, describing the proposal as a "crowbar to unlock fundamental changes."

    In 2015, when the flow of refugees to Europe peaked, Denmark received asylum applications from over 21,000 people, not least from Syria.

    Over 405,000 displaced Syrians returned to the Aleppo governorate between January and July 2017, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported. The vast majority of them (or 93 percent) had been displaced internally within the country.

    Europe's Refugee and Migrant Crisis (103)


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    Danish People's Party, Syria, Scandinavia, Denmark
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