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Aya Abo-Daher left Syria as a teenager with her parents in 2015. A year earlier, her two older brothers, of military service age, had fled to Denmark. They obtained refugee status there. The rest of the family were only entitled to a temporary residence permit, having been granted to them, like hundreds of Syrians, due to the war in their country.

Now 19 years old, Aya lives in Nyborg, a small town in Fyn province, in the center of the country. In June, the one that the director of his high school presents as a “Brilliant student” should have graduated from high school. But, on March 30, she received an email from the migration office, informing her that her residence permit, which expired at the end of January, would not be renewed: the Danish authorities believe that the situation in the region de Damascus is safe enough for her and her parents to return.

First country in Europe

Their case is far from isolated. According to figures from the migration office, 170 Syrian refugees lost their residence permit in 2020. Between January and February, 84 others. And, since March, several dozen more, making Denmark the first country in Europe to order the return of Syrian refugees. In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, their fate had so far aroused little emotion in the Scandinavian kingdom. The message from the principal of Nyborg high school, posted on Facebook, on 1er April, and shared more than 10,000 times since, gave them a face: that of Aya, whose parents, writes Henrik Vestergaard Stokholm, were “Harassed and threatened” by the Syrian authorities after their sons left the country, and who “Everything done to integrate since they arrived” in Denmark. Without that being enough.

Sunday April 4, the director of the school and the schoolgirl were both on the set of the channel TV2. Long brown hair and large dark eyes, unable to contain her tears, Aya Abo-Daher explained in a perfect Danish that she feared for her life and that of her parents, if she was sent back to Syria. Having refugee status, his brothers are not concerned.

Since then, the three center-left parties, allies of the minority government, led by the social democrat Mette Frederiksen since 2019, have taken up the cause of the high school student, her parents, and other Syrians, whose testimonies are beginning to emerge on the social networks. Not enough to move, however, the Minister of Immigration and Integration, Mattias Tesfaye.

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