In this magazine we have decided to focus on the “long stayers” in the asylum system. The refugees who have had their pleas for protection denied by the Danish authorities, but who do not dare to return to their home countries – or can not be returned.
All the journalists on the New Times team know someone who has been trapped in this kind of mind-wrecking no man’s land for several years. Not just two, three or four years. Indeed, one of our own journalists has been living in the asylum system for more than ten years. We bring you his and other long stayers’ stories in this magazine, as well as an interview with an experienced psychologist who describes the immense pressure these people are living under.
The number of people living in the asylum centres for more than two years has been decreasing for many years, but last year the number started to rise alarmingly again. Now more than 800 people are living in the centres for their second, third – or in some cases – tenth year.
It is a tragic situation. The Danish authorities have had their final say. The Immigrations Service as well as the Refugee Council are convinced that these people do not meet the criteria for asylum. Only important new information – which rarely surfaces – can reopen these cases. The refugees do not agree with the authorities’ decision. They fear for their lives if they return, so they dare not go back. The fear is of such a scale, that they would rather live in a an asylum centre in a foreign country, where they are not allowed to work, marry or learn the local language than to return to their home countries.
The result is endless waiting time. In an isolated no man’s land.
Robin Ahrenkiel El-Tanany