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UN refugee agency criticises Iraq deportations

Denmark in violation of refugee conventions by repatriating asylum seekers to dangerous areas, the UNHCR charges Denmark’s deportation of Iraqi refugees has drawn renewed criticism from the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. ‘A state that repatriates asylum seekers...

Denmark’s deportation of Iraqi refugees has drawn renewed criticism from the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

‘A state that repatriates asylum seekers from central Iraq to that part of the country is following a policy that violates UNHCR guidelines,’ said Hanne Mathisen, the spokesperson for the UNHCR’s Nordic office in Stockholm.

The UNHCR also criticised Sweden for its deportations of Iraqi asylum seekers.

The ban on repatriating people who risk persecution is recognised as the most important part of the UN’s refugee convention.

Immigration authorities recently repatriated 22 refugees whose applications for asylum had been rejected. Some had been living in Denmark for up to ten years and had come from provinces labelled by the UNHCR as ‘dangerous’.

Immigration Minister Birthe Rønn Hornbech defended the decision to do so, saying the repatriations were legal under Danish law.

‘They are incredible,’ she said. ‘The UNHCR is inflating its claims that we violating international conventions.’

Mathisen said UN officials had no authority to prevent a country from deporting asylum seekers to areas deemed dangerous, but attorneys say individual deportees can challenge a state’s decision to repatriate them.

In related news, according to a new Gallup/Berlingske Tidende poll a majority of Danes supports the deportation of Iraqi asylum seekers, if they do not come from areas listed by the UN as dangerous. Some 53 percent support deportations to safe areas, while 66 percent support deportations in general.

Experts say the results of the poll indicate that people believe the country’s asylum system has treated the Iraqis fairly.

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