Refugee crisis

Danes hold refugees set for Sweden in school

Danes hold refugees set for Sweden in school
Refugees pictured in Rödby earlier this week. Photo: Ola Torkelsson/TT
More than 200 refugees hoping to seek asylum in Sweden have been confined to a school in Rödby in southern Denmark, as protestors supporting their goal gather outside.

Large numbers of police are surrounding the school, where Danish authorities are holding the refugees.

“They don’t know where they are or how they are going to get to Sweden,” one volunteer, Denise Persson, who brought clothes and medicine to the school on Tuesday told Swedish broadcaster SVT.

The refugees are understood to be among around 800 people who got off a ferry from Germany earlier in the week. 

Danish police met the new arrivals at the port in Rödby and asked them to board buses to various destinations. Some were sent to an asylum centre to be registered while others were directed to the school, SVT reported.

“It is not humane to keep them here. They should know their rights,” said Persson.

While Sweden has become a top EU destination for refugees by issuing permanent residency to all Syrian asylum seekers, Denmark has sought to reduce the influx by issuing temporary residence permits, delaying family reunifications and slashing benefits for newly arrived immigrants.

But on Tuesday Sweden encouraged Denmark to register the refugees.

“Denmark is a rich country and is able to take care of the refugees. According to the existing rules there is also the opportunity for family reunification if the refugee has family in either Denmark or Sweden. How Denmark chooses to interpret the rules is up to Denmark,” Sweden's justice ministry told Danish public broadcaster DR. 

Meanwhile Danish Integration Minister Inger Støjberg told Danish television network TV2 she had spoken to Swedish officials about the possibility of a deal that would allow Sweden to receive the refugees. But she said that “no agreement” had been reached.

On Tuesday Denmark sent back a first group of refugees who arrived from Germany, with others expected to follow.

“These are people who do not want to seek asylum (in Denmark) and are therefore here illegally. They have been deported and barred from re-entering the country for two years,” police in southern Denmark said in a statement.

“This first group was a score of people. More will follow after their cases are processed,” the statement said.

News of the confusion surrounding refugee arrivals to Denmark came as Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Löfven met for talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

“We have agreed to continue to push for a reformed European refugee policy. All countries must take full responsibility to help people who have been displaced,” said Löfven.