At the end of 2003, Denmark hosted some 2,800 refugees and asylum seekers, including 724 granted refugee status, some 520 granted de facto status, some 740 asylum applicants with pending claims, some 500 resettled refugees, and some 325 Bosnians and Kosovars with temporary protection.
Most asylum countries recognize applicants with compelling reasons arising out of past persecution not to return even when conditions in their source country have changed. Denmark, however, does not. Many recipients of de facto refugee protection and temporary protection may fall in this category. Accordingly, the U.S. Committee for Refugees (USCR) counts recipients of these forms of relief in Denmark among refugees and asylum seekers in need of protection.
During the year, around 4,600 asylum seekers filed applications in Denmark, a decrease of about 25 percent from 2002. The largest groups came from Serbia and Montenegro (7750), Afghanistan (664), Iraq (442), and Russia (269). The approval rate for asylum claims was 22 percent, a decrease from 28 percent from 2002.
Although last year the government reduced public assistance to asylum seekers to 80 percent of that granted to citizens to encourage them to work, a study showed that only 20 percent had found jobs in 2003, compared to 25 percent in 2002, before the cuts. Associations supporting refugees prepared a test case in Danish courts arguing that the reduced benefits the government gave to asylum seekers was contrary to Articles 23 (governing public relief) and 24 (governing labor legislation and social security) of the UN Refugee Convention.
Denmark continued to try to repatriate non-Albanians to Kosovo. The European Roma Rights Center petitioned the European Court of Human Rights in May to prevent Denmark from deporting a failed Kosovar Roma asylum seeker and his family. The petition claimed their expulsion would violate Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (prohibiting torture and inhumane or degrading treatment). The case was pending at the end of the year.
The Refugee Board (the appeals division) decided to grant permanent residence to Afghan and Iraqi refugees with Convention or de facto status who have been living in Denmark for at least three years (under the current law seven years of residence is required). The decision was expected to affect around 9,000 people.
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