Naser Khader is a danish politician, born in 1963 in Damascus. He is a member of the Parliament of Denmark for the Conservative People’s Party. We asked him several questions related to the immigration to Denmark.
Alimuddin Usmani : What is the current situation with regard to asylum in Denmark?
Naser Khader : The number of asylum seekers in Denmark has dropped since 2015, which means that the Danish government decided to close several asylum centers in 2016. Several factors have caused the drop; decisions made on European level, and the fact that the Danish government continuously has adjusted and improved the immigration law. Denmark is a small country with a generous welfare system, and to keep it that way, we need to be extra careful regarding how many people we take in.
According to Danish immigration service, three-quarters of age-tested asylum seekers who told Danish authorities they were children have been found to be older than 18. How do you explain this important number?
Unfortunately, many young asylum seekers lie about their age because it is a lot easier to receive asylum status if you are under the age of 18. I am sure that they are well aware that lying about their age improves their chances. This is not a Danish problem – it is a European problem. In my opinion more age tests should be performed.
The Danish parliament has approved last year a law allowing authorities to seize refugees cash and valuable, and delay them being reunited with their families. Has this law had an impact on asylum claims?
I believe that Danish immigration law as a whole has resulted in less people applying for asylum. The law regarding the authorities’ right to seize refugees’ cash has been taken into use four times during the last year. In two cases the asylum seekers arrived by plane from Iran. In total about 30,600 euros have been confiscated.
The reason why it is possible for the authorities to seize cash from people applying for asylum is that in Denmark we do not believe that the state should automatically be paying for people who is obviously capable of paying for themselves. The same principle applies for Danes on welfare. If you have money – then state won’t pay for your housing etc. No jewelry has – by the way – been confiscated.
In Switzerland a significant number of asylum seekers are dependent on social assistance, even several years after their arrival. Is it the same thing in Denmark?
Unfortunately, it has proven to be very difficult to integrate refugees on the job market even after several years of asylum in Denmark. This problem causes a lot of debate in Denmark and is something we are continuously working on improving in the Danish Parliament.
What is your position on the conflict in Syria?
The international community – including Europe – has been far too inactive regarding the root of the current refugee problems: Syria, with Bashar al-Assad still in charge. As long as Assad and ISIS are not dealt with, Europe’s borders will continue to be put under tremendous pressure. I find it difficult to understand how the Syrian crisis has become a European issue these days. It is not. It is an international problem. Those call for international solutions, which Europe naturally should be a part of, but should not be alone with. The Gulf countries are crucial in this context. Saudi-Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates are just a few examples of countries taking none or very few Syrian refugees. Surely these nations have a better financial ability to host a substantial amount of the refugees compared to e.g. Jordan and Lebanon. The fact that the Gulf countries are doing absolutely nothing is a scandal. Had they lived up to their responsibilities, the pressure on Europe would be significantly different right now. The Syrian civilian population is simply being let down. By Europe. By UN. By the international community. It should not take many hours of research to realize that Russian president Vladimir Putin is far from innocent to this entire crisis. Russia and Putin supply Assad with weapons in Syria. That is a fact. There is certainly a degree of passivity from the West due to the current complex and difficult relations to Russia – and the Syrian civilian population is paying the ultimate price for that at the moment.