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Denmark to force refugees to pay for accommodation, while applying for asylum

This AFP file photo shows refugees trying to get on a train to Copenhagen, Denmark, on November 12, 2015.

In the latest move to stem refugee inflow into Denmark, the government is set to force refugees to hand over their possessions to pay for their accommodation while they are applying for asylum.

On Tuesday, the Danish government secured a parliamentary majority in favor of legislation that will severely curb the rights of refugees. The parliament is expected to pass the legislation on Wednesday.

The bill says that asylum seekers, who arrive with more than 10,000 kroner (USD 1,450) in cash “will have to [use] the surplus above 10,000 kroner to pay for their stay,” said Marcus Knuth, the Danish government spokesman.

Denmark police checks IDs at border with Germany on January 4, 2016. © AFP

Local refugee advocates have warned that there are worse aspects to the new law than the articles concerning refugees’ belongings. If passed, the law will prevent most Syrian refugees from being granted more than one year’s sanctuary, unless they can prove that they are individually under threat in Syria which has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy and a terror campaign by Daesh militants for over four years. Parents who arrive without their children will have to wait at least three years before they can apply to be reunited with their family.

“It means that most of these families will be separated for up to five years. First they’ll have to wait for the asylum application to go through, then there will be three years of waiting, then they’ll have to apply for reunification. Separating families for five years is completely crazy,” said Michala Clante Bendixen, chair of Refugees Welcome in Denmark.

“They have two goals: one is to scare people away, and the other is to make life as hard as possible for those who are already here, to make them leave,” Bendixen said

Denmark has recently imposed strict border checks, forcing more refugees back to Germany. Denmark accepted about 20,000 refugees in 2015, which is only two percent of the total who arrived in Europe last year.

Over one million refugees entered Europe in 2015, according to the United Nations refugee agency. Almost 50 percent of them were fleeing the war in Syria and about 21 percent were from Afghanistan.

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