Denmark is warning would-be Syrian asylum seekers that Copenhagen’s new center-right government has made it harder for refugees to find safety in the Nordic country. Ads targeting refugees that appeared Monday in Lebanese newspapers says asylum seekers will get fewer social benefits, may not bring family members to the country for a year and rejected asylum seekers will be quickly deported.
“The Danish immigration authorities are informing about changes of conditions regarding residence in Denmark being implemented by the new Danish government,” the ad reads before listing essentially seven reasons why asylum seekers might consider a neighboring European country instead. The ads have been published in 10 languages on government websites and through social media.
The EU Observer news site said Inger Stoejberg, the Danish integration minister, told TV2 News the campaign cost 30,000 euros (about $33,500), or about the cost of hosting one refugee for a year. Copenhagen had been planning to run these ads since July, after news emerged that refugee smugglers were circulating fliers comparing the social welfare benefits of various European countries.
Danes, who view their government’s efforts as anti-immigrant, started their own welcoming campaign for the refugees, including an ad in the UK’s Guardian newspaper and a Facebook page that has nearly 25,000 followers.
The anti-immigrant Danish People’s Party (DPP) gained significant ground in Denmark’s June 18 elections, coming in second with 21 percent of the vote. It declined, along with other parties, to join the Liberal Party’s center-right government of Lars Lokke Rasmussen, leaving the prime minister in charge of a minority government. The DPP outnumbers Rasmussen’s party in parliament, giving it significant sway in directing national policy.
The Feb. 14 shooting rampage in Copenhagen by the 22-year-old son of a Palestinian immigrant killed two people at a freedom of expression event and injured five police officers. The tragic incident exacerbated a growing resentment among some Danes who think their generous social benefits are being drained by an influx of immigrants.