A controversial policy to strip asylum seekers of their belongings as they arrive in the country is branded inhumane by rights organizations.
Imagine for a moment you’re a Syrian refugee. You’ve fled your country due to civil war and the terrible threat of the Islamic State, and you only had chance to grab a few precious possessions before setting off on the perilous journey: all your jewelry, a few hundred dollars in notes, maybe your iPhone (because yes, even Syrian refugees had good jobs and luxury items before their lives were turned upside down).
After walking hundreds of miles north, you manage to reach Turkey, then across the deadly sea to Greece. If you manage to get this far, you are definitely one of the lucky ones. You then travel thousands of miles from Southern Europe to the North, hoping to be reunited with family members waiting for you in Denmark. But when you arrive at the border- hungry, thirsty, exhausted and traumatized- Danish police take away everything you own.
This is the controversial policy Denmark voted to put in place this week. The government says it will confiscate all belongings up to a value of 10,000 Danish crowns ($1,450), defending the law by saying it costs money to house and feed asylum seekers.
Although this so-called ‘jewelry bill’ exempts belongings of special value (wedding rings, for example), critics say it’s a cruel and inhumane policy, cleverly designed to make Denmark an unattractive place to seek refuge in.
Last year, it took in 20,000 refugees, and the center-right government wants to make sure that figure decreases in 2016. The new legislation reflects growing animosity in Europe towards refugees: Switzerland has introduced the same policy, taking valuables from asylum seekers over 1,000 Swiss francs ($985), and the German state of Baden-Württemberg will also confiscate valuables above 350 euros ($380).
But international human rights organizations say the move is unfair: a final kick in the teeth to those who have clearly suffered enough.The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) told Reuters:
Most (refugees) have lost everything and yet this legislation appears to say that the few fortunate enough to have survived the trip to Denmark with their few remaining possessions haven’t lost enough.”
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