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Denmark to Send Immigrants to Rwanda

Denmark borders
Denmark to Send Immigrants to Rwanda. Credit: Erich Jacobi/ Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0

Rather than allowing immigrants to live in Denmark, they will be sent to Rwanda, where Danish officials will manage their asylum cases.

In a joint declaration on bilateral cooperation, the two nations stated that they were  “exploring the establishment of a program through which spontaneous asylum seekers arriving in Denmark may be transferred to Rwanda for consideration of their asylum applications.”

The statement added that it would also offer “the option of settling in Rwanda.” The declaration was made public on the website of the Danish Ministry of Immigration and Integration.

The fact that Rwanda now explicitly indicates that it wishes to receive Danish asylum seekers takes the collaboration agreement beyond the two nations’ prior announcement of a partnership arrangement in 2021.

Denmark‘s intention to construct an offshore or “third-country” refugee center was discussed in earlier statements in more general terms.

Kaare Dybvad Bek and Flemming Miller Mortensen, Danish foreign development and immigration ministers, are currently in Rwanda, where they conducted a news conference on Friday to announce the new deal.

The ruling Social Democratic Party has long expressed a desire to establish an offshore asylum center. The Danish Foreign Ministry has declared the opening of a local office in Kigali, where two of the ministry’s diplomats would be stationed beginning later this year.

Developing Refugee Waiting Centers Outside of Europe

In June 2021, Denmark, which is renowned for having one of Europe’s strictest immigration policies, established legislation allowing it to open refugee waiting centers outside of Europe where applicants can dwell while their cases are being reviewed.

Applicants for asylum still need to present themselves in person at the Danish border before being flown to the reception facility abroad. According to the declaration, the two countries are collaborating to make it possible for asylum seekers to remain in Rwanda once their applications have been adjudicated.

The two nations promise to “facilitate international dialogue” about the “dysfunctional” asylum system they see as the current reality by speaking with the EU Commission and other international organizations.

In a press release, Bek stated, “We are working hard to create a fairer asylum system and we have continuously taken new steps.” 

“At the same time,” he said, “it is important that we [not] rush anything through but instead do our work thoroughly and reach an agreement that complies with Denmark’s and Rwanda’s international obligations.”

Due to Denmark’s opt-out from EU law, the EU does not collaborate with Denmark on regulations pertaining to asylum and border control, though this does not apply to visa rules and the Schengen area.

UK Along Same Lines

The UK government’s plan to also transfer certain asylum seekers to Rwanda is being challenged in the High Court.

According to the government, this would lower the number of people crossing the English Channel. However, some are skeptical of Rwanda’s eligibility due to issues with its human rights record.

One-Way Ticket to Rwanda

Asylum seekers will be sent to Rwanda on a one-way ticket during the five-year experiment in order to submit an asylum application there. They might be given permission to remain in Rwanda as refugees. If not, they may petition for residency there based on different reasons or apply for asylum in a “safe third country.”

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