Denmark to start anti-refugee campaign to stop migrant influx

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SHAFAQNA – To combat recent efforts by human traffickers and smugglers who have been releasing information packets that demonstrate different levels of benefits and advantages to asylum seekers, the Danish government plans to launch an information campaign meant to dissuade refugees from heading to Denmark, according to local Danish news outlet The Local DK.

On Thursday, Integration Minister Inger Støjberg said she is ready to launch these advertisements in foreign newspapers. The announcement comes shortly after Danish newspaper Jyllands-Postland revealed a report that showed smugglers incentivizing documents distributed to asylum seekers and refugees. Minister Støjberg told DR TV she finds it strange that “a refugee would travel through several countries before ending up in Denmark, Norway, Sweden or Germany.”

Describing the contents of the upcoming ads, Minister Støjberg told DR TV that they would address “halving benefits as well as other restrictions that we [the Danish government] will be enacting.”

The almost-halving of refugee benefits the minster is referring to were decided by the Venestre government, Denmark’s left-wing, conservative-liberal and agrarian political party, which decided after assuming power to introduce a new “integration benefit” to make Denmark a less appealing place for refugees. These efforts have been criticized for curtailing asylum seekers as well as being ineffective in stopping their flow into the country.

These advertisements are not the first of their kind, as the Danish People’s Party as recently as last week proposed similar efforts in the form of video campaigns. These proposals, however, were criticized by members of the government and rejected. It is still undecided in which foreign countries the advertisements will be distributed in as well as when they’ll be launched.

A study from the Confederation of Danish Employers (DA) revealed that Denmark, a European country hit by anti-immigration sentiment, has failed to integrate refugees into Danish society. The report found that three out of four refugees who came to Denmark in the early 2000s are still unemployed. The unjust system in the Danish labor market promotes further social polarization in Danish society, the report suggested. In addition, as refugees and immigrant communities form the most alienated layers of Danish society, the Danish government’s harsh policies on immigration and labor market opportunities have left many youths with immigrant backgrounds vulnerable. Danish government policies and labor market conditions have abandoned many Danish immigrants to becoming the most alienated and demoralized individuals in Danish society.

Denmark, along with Germany, came under fire from the UN over growing discrimination against Muslims and refugees in May. Reviewing various reports from civil society organizations in both Germany and Denmark, discrimination and xenophobia is a growing trend in both countries, as the two countries are not doing enough to eliminate discriminatory elements from both state institutions and society.

According to the Danish Immigration Service (DIS), numbers indicate a skyrocketing refugee population in Denmark. Nearly double the number of refugees sought asylum in the country in 2014 than 2013, going from 7,557 to 14,815. Of the 14,815 refugees who sought asylum last year, less than half were granted official refugee status, totaling 6,110. The two largest groups who sought asylum in 2015 were from Syria and Eritrea.

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