Denmark is so inhospitable to refugees that asylum requests dropped 84% in two years

Tightening borders.
Tightening borders.
Image: Reuters/Scanpix Denmark
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

Denmark has had a clear and consistent message to asylum seekers in the last two years: stay away. The latest figures on the number of people seeking asylum in the country suggests that message has finally sunk in.

Denmark received just 3,458 asylum applications in 2017—an 84% drop from 2015 (when the refugee crisis saw a dramatic peak in the number of asylum seekers in Europe). The government puts the drop down to the 67 anti-immigrant (link in Danish) regulations it has passed since 2015.

Among the 67 regulations the government passed is a controversial law that forces refugees entering the country to hand over their valuables as compensation for seeking asylum in the country. The law gives police officers the right to search refugees’ possessions and seize cash and individual items exceeding 10,000 Danish kroner ($1,616). Human rights organizations likened it to the Nazis’s seizing of Jewish belongings during the Holocaust.

Denmark has become a far less welcoming place to refugees since the 2015 elections were won by a center-right coalition. The elections bolstered the Danish People’s Party, now the country’s second largest political party, which ran on an unapologetically anti-immigration populist platform.

Post-2015, Denmark’s immigration minister, Inger Støjberg, played a major role in moving the country’s immigration policy to the right. Støjberg made headline news earlier this year (March 2017), when she celebrated the country’s 50th regulation against immigration with a cake. She received severe backlash after she took to Facebook to post a smiling photo of herself holding the cake, adorn with fruit, the Danish flag, and a prominent number 50.

Last month (Dec 2017), Denmark announced it would no longer automatically accept a quota of refugees under a UN resettlement program (the government will instead determine how many refugees can enter the country). The recent regulations show just how dramatically Denmark has changed; it was one of the first countries to sign up to the 1951 UN Refugee Convention.