A Syrian mother of two has won the right to remain in Denmark. It is a rare victory at a time when the Danish government is threatening to deport Syrian refugees to Damascus.
Rasha Kairout, who arrived in Denmark in 2015 with her son and daughter, won her court case last week and was granted asylum status. According to the Syrian opposition news outlet Zaman Al-Wasl, Kairout fled to Turkey in the midst of the ongoing Syrian revolution, before making her way by rubber dinghy to Europe and settling in Denmark.
"I believe God saved us during the long journey at sea," she said the day after the ruling. "And God also saved us this time by granting us asylum here in Denmark."
Describing her experience at the hearing, she recalled that her children were very stressed and afraid. "When I left the court… and informed them of our status, it was like we were born again. We have a new life here."
Having worked at a hotel for a year and a half prior to losing her job during the Covid-19 pandemic, she is now reported to be working at an elderly care home.
Kairout's victory comes despite the Danish government's recent ruling that Damascus and its surrounding areas are "safe" and free of conflict. Hundreds of Syrian refugees in Denmark have thus had their residency permits revoked over the past few months and have been told by the government to leave for Syria. Many are predicting forced deportation in the near future.
Denmark's decision makes it the first European country to officially deem Damascus to be safe, even though it is controlled by the regime of Bashar Al-Assad which stands accused of numerous war crimes. Syrian refugees have urged the Danish government not to go ahead with its deportation plans, because refugees who have returned to regime-held territory in recent years have been arrested, forcibly disappeared and, it is alleged, tortured.
Kairout lamented the plight of her fellow Syrians in Denmark. "I can count 200 cases from Damascus who are in the same situation. We can say that the Syrians are facing a lot of difficulties from such a situation and they're going through its psychological effects." She insisted that it is "unfair" to say that Damascus is safe. "We can say that there is no shelling, no bombardment in Damascus but the regime is still there." That, in her opinion, makes it very unsafe indeed.