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Refugees Welcome? The changing face of the 'refugee friendly' countries of Scandinavia

The countries of #Sweden, #Norway, or #Denmark are often associated with refugee-friendly attitudes, which may be in part due to their governments’ history of inclusivity and left-shifted policies.⁣

Despite a large number of #refugees being welcomed to all of the aforementioned countries with open arms at the start of the crisis for refugees in 2015, during which 1.3 million people, mainly #Syrians and #Afghans, sought asylum in #Europe, the attitude towards refugees has become increasingly negative in recent years.⁣

Denmark's #immigration laws have always been controversial. In 1993, the country quit participating in several #EU cooperations, including #asylum policies. In 2021, it became the first country in Europe to revoke the residence status of Syrian refugees based on the statement that parts of the country are stable enough to guarantee a safe return. Sweden and Norway also tightened their refugee laws wherein #repatriations became more common, and permanent asylum needed to be 'earned.' A law approved by the Swedish parliament in June 2021 lists the knowledge of the Swedish language, Swedish society, or sufficient income as prerequisites for a #permanentresidency permit. In Norway, on the other hand, the period spent in the country in order to require permanent residency has been extended from 3 to 5 years, with the applicant having to have a steady job in order to apply. At the same time, refugees still face discrimination in their daily lives and in the job market.⁣

Additionally, this shifting attitude observed in Scandinavia is a common trend across Europe - one which correlates with the shared experiences during #Covid-19. Closing the borders proved to be a successful mode of dealing with the #pandemic and further enforced the positive attitudes toward curbing #immigration and stricter #border control as the latest manifestation of the moral shift that the 2015 refugee situation evoked.⁣

As a result, many refugees are now finding themselves in a catch-22 of being barred from integrating into the host countries’ society, but integration being a requirement in order to remain in the host country.

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