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New Times October 2013

Dear Reader

For the last month or so there has been a big commercial sign on my way to work picturing a bowl of porridge splashed out on a table. Underneath the picture the commercial said: “Support families who dream of normal problems.”
The commercial was sponsored by an organisation helping children with cancer. But every time I saw it I thought of the stories I heard everyday at work. I thought of the refugees who live in the Danish asylum centers who dream of normal problems.

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The stories I hear at work are horrifying stories. A father who has not heard from his family in six months. He had to leave his two children and wife in Afghanistan after escaping the barbaric wrath of the Taliban.

Another story is of a Syrian woman who was caught by Assad’s soldiers smuggling medicine to hospitals in Damascus. She had to endure many days of torture – managing not to reveal any names of hospital staff – before being rescued and later escaping to Denmark.

These and many other stories makes me think that these people are just dreaming of ordinary problems. To think again. To sleep again. To start life again.

Returning to normalcy for refugees starts with basic needs like protection and freedom. Denmark – one of the most peaceful nations in the world –  has the power to grant asylum and offer normalcy to refugees.

In this issue we focus on a problem in the Danish asylum system that causes frustration for asylum seekers. The interpreters being used often have not mastered the languages they interpret. And our research shows that some interpreters are even interfering in the asylum case, which can be devastating for the asylum seeker’s hope for protection.

The biggest problem seems to be that there is no requirement of certification or education to be an interpreter in the Danish asylum system. Experts, lawyers, and a few politicians are aware of the problem. But a louder cry from the public is needed to help secure professional interpretation in all cases – and thus a more fair trial – for the asylum seekers in this country.

A fair trial must be the aim when dealing with people who have left everything behind and just dream of ordinary problems in their lives once again.


The Editor
Robin Ali Ahrenkiel El-Tanany

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