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UK Home Office tells asylum seeker he can safely return to Syria

Visitors stand outside Lunar House, a U.K. Visas and Immigration office, operated by the Home Office in Croydon, Greater London, U.K. on Monday, Aug. 17, 2020. U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised to re-write laws he says make it "very difficult" to deport migrants and asylum seekers ruled to have no right to stay in the U.K. Photographer: Jason Alden/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Visitors stand outside Lunar House, a U.K. Visas and Immigration office, operated by the Home Office in Croydon, Greater London, U.K. on Monday, Aug. 17, 2020 [Jason Alden/Bloomberg via Getty Images]

The UK Home Office has ordered that a Syrian asylum seeker can return to Syria as it is safe to do so, igniting condemnation amid evidence that refugees are still not entirely safe upon their return to Syria.

The asylum seeker, who is 25-years-old and whose name has not been revealed for his protection, sought refuge in the UK in May 2020 after fleeing Syria in 2017 to escape forced conscription into the army of the Syrian regime of Bashar Al-Assad. If he remained and fought in the conflict, according to the refugee, he would be forced to kill other Syrians.

The Home Office refused his asylum application in December, stating in a letter seen by the Guardian newspaper that it was "not satisfied to a reasonable degree of likelihood that you have a well-founded fear of persecution."

It added that while it did recognise he had fled conscription, it did not accept "that you will face a risk of persecution or real risk of serious harm on return to the Syrian Arab Republic due to your imputed political opinion as a draft evader."

The asylum seeker insists, however, that he is at risk of being targeted by the Syrian intelligence services and detained, imprisoned, tortured and killed if he is sent back to the country.

"I escaped from Syria in 2017 and I am looking for safety," he said, according to the Guardian. "My solicitor is appealing against the Home Office decision and says this is the first Syrian asylum refusal case she has seen. I hope I will not be forced back to Syria. I am so tired of trying to find somewhere that I can be safe."

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Throughout the ongoing decade-long Syrian conflict and the subsequent influx of millions of refugees attempting to gain asylum in European counties, the UK has not yet sent back any Syrian asylum seeker to the Assad regime due to the dangers they would face.

The Home Office's decision, however, is part of a growing trend in which governments considering the situation in Syria to be stable and safe, impacting policies towards refugees and threatened their stay in some European states.

Countries which have taken a harder line towards Syrian asylum seekers include Denmark and Sweden, of which the former labelled Syria as "safe" in 2020 and last year revoked the residency permits of hundreds of Syrians.

Human rights groups and activists have called on such countries to halt the deportation of Syrian asylum seekers back to their home country, as numerous reports have emerged confirming that Syrian security forces often track down, detain, torture and kill the refugees upon their return.

The Home Office's refusal of this asylum seeker's application also comes at a time when the British government is making it generally harder across the board for immigrants and refugees to flee to the country and remain in it, with the controversial Borders and Nationality Bill having been proposed to parliament towards the end of last year.

READ: Denmark is paving the way to making Syrian refugees unsafe again

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