Denmark in talks with Rwanda on transfer of asylum-seekers

April 20, 2022


Danish Minister for Immigration and Integration Tesfaye at EU Parliament

Danish Minister for Immigration and Integration Mattias Tesfaye attends a meeting at the EU Parliament Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE), in Brussels, Belgium, January 13, 2022. REUTERS/Johanna Geron/File Photo

COPENHAGEN, April 20 (Reuters) – Denmark is in talks with Rwanda about setting up a new procedure for transferring asylum seekers to the East African nation, mirroring a similar move by Britain announced last week.

A deal with Rwanda would make Denmark the first European Union member to effectively bypass the bloc’s fragmented migration and asylum system.

“Our dialogue with the Rwandan government includes a mechanism for the transfer of asylum seekers,” Immigration Minister Mattias Tesfaye told Reuters on Wednesday.

The deal would aim to “ensure a more dignified approach than the criminal network of human traffickers that characterises migration across the Mediterranean today,” he added.

Denmark, which has introduced increasingly harsh immigration policies in the last decade, passed a law last year that allows refugees arriving on Danish soil to be moved to asylum centres in a partner country. read more

The move drew criticism from human rights advocates, the United Nations and the European Commission but Denmark failed to find a partner country at that time.

Last week, Britain announced it planned to relocate asylum seekers to Rwanda in a move aimed at smashing people-smuggling networks and stemming the flow of migrants. read more

Over the last year, Denmark has approached countries both in and outside the European Union about a potential asylum deal, including Tunisia and Ethiopia. Denmark also signed a diplomatic agreement with Rwanda last year on asylum and political matters.

The EU Commission has said relocating refugees outside Europe is “not possible” under current EU rules but Denmark is exempt from some EU rules, including asylum standards, due to an opt-out.

EU countries have previously discussed setting up external centres to receive refugees in 2016-18 after a spike in Mediterranean arrivals, but legal, humanitarian, political, safety and financial concerns eclipsed the proposals back then.

Sending asylum seekers abroad for processing is “both irresponsible and lacking in solidarity”, the Danish Refugee Council, an NGO, said in a statement.

Denmark has not yet struck a deal with Rwanda, Tesfaye said, but immigration speakers in parliament had been summoned to a meeting on the matter on Thursday next week. The government needs parliamentary backing for a potential deal with Rwanda.

Reporting by Nikolaj Skydsgaard, additional reporting by Terje Solsvik, Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Angus MacSwan


2 replies

  1. Why does it remind me of this?

    Europe must stop using Africa as a dumping-ground for its hazardous waste

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    Resolution adopted at the EGP Council, Geneva, 15 October 2006. (.pdf)

    Côte d’Ivoire and its capital city, Abidjan, have once more been the scene of tragedy. During the night of 19-20 August, highly toxic waste shipped from Europe in a Greek cargo vessel was dumped illegally at a number of tips around Abidjan, resulting in the deaths of seven people.

    This terrible incident is not an isolated case. Representatives of the UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) say they have witnessed four or five incidents on a similar scale this year and admit that the true figures for trafficking of this kind, which is both illegal and dangerous for populations and the environment, are far higher.

    Electronic components account for the largest flow of illegal consignments of toxic waste.

    The company responsible for the Abidjan disaster was Trafigura, a multinational commodity trading firm specialising in oil and metals.

    Trafigura is based in Amsterdam, where it has its head office, but its operations are mainly conducted from Luzern, in Switzerland. The firm also operates in Congo and South Africa, where it has already caused several incidents, and is one of the companies involved in the scandal surrounding the ‘Oil for Food’ programme in Iraq.

    Such practices must cease, once and for all.


    On the occasion of the European Green Party Congress in Geneva, 14 October 2006, the assembled members of the European Green Party condemn in the severest possible terms the practices of European firms such as Trafigura, which endanger human life and the environment by using Africa as a dumping-ground for toxic waste instead of processing it in a responsible way.

    These lethal practices are turning Africa into a vast repository for Europe’s unwanted hazardous waste. They must cease at once.

    We, the European Greens, hereby undertake to denounce these practices in all the countries in which we are present, and call on the governments concerned to act responsibly.

    Accordingly, the European Greens assembled here in Geneva call on the government of Switzerland to take the necessary steps to put a stop to the shameful illegal operations conducted by Trafigura from the city of Luzern.

    • My question is why does ANY African nation allow these Western countries some of which are their ex-colonialists, to again misuse them?

      Is it the money that these western countries offer them? And what’s the assurance that this money is going to be used for the purpose it’ll be dished out? Given most of these countries’ corruption records as well as human rights records, who will ensure that all these immigrants are going to be dealt with humanely? As it is, those very same groups are already objecting…

      From the way I see it, no country in Africa should agree to such daft and irresponsible schemes by any Western country on the grounds that they are now ‘grown-up’, and will not be manipulated by their past colonizers!

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