Refugees Scoffing at Home Return Bonus

Copenhagen Post, May 17, 2010

A considerable increase in repatriation pay for foreigners returning to their native countries has not yet resulted in more doing so

So far this year 70 foreigners have packed their bags and returned to their homelands as per the government’s repatriation programme–far fewer than the parties behind the programme expected.

The latest figures from the Danish Refugee Council show a marked decline over the past few years in the number of refugees–along with those in the country per family reunification guidelines–who have returned to their native lands. This is despite the considerable increase in the monetary bonuses offered to them by the state for doing so.

In November of last year, the Liberal-Conservative government and the Danish People’s Party (DF) passed a proposal to raise the amount accompanying repatriation from just over 28,000 kroner per person to up to 117,581 ($19,500) kroner during the period of 2010 to 2013.

It was DF that pushed for the change, arguing that it would inevitably save Danish society millions of kroner.

But if the trend from the first four and half months remains consistent for the rest of the year, only about 200 foreigners will return home in 2010. That figure would be less than in previous years, with the exception of 2007.

‘If it ends up that fewer than 200 foreigners return home, then it hasn’t been a success,’ said DF’s immigration spokesman Peter Skaarup.

He said he now plans to ask integration minister Birthe Rønn Hornbech why the numbers are so low and discuss what they should do about the situation.

Liberal integration spokesman Karsten Lauritzen said he believed the numbers would pick up by the year’s end–a belief echoed by the Danish Refugee Council.

The Social Democrats and Socialist People’s Party also voted for the monetary increase for repatriation. But the former’s integration spokesman, Henrik Dam Kristensen, said that the number of returnees was not important to the party.

‘Our motive for supporting the proposal was to give those who feel out of place in Denmark a better opportunity to travel home,’ he said.

Figures from the Danish Refugee Council are unclear as to whether offering foreigners more money results in more returning home.

The government also increased the monetary and educational incentives for repatriated foreigners in late 2007, where a total of 111 people had been repatriated by the end of that year. In 2008 the figure increased to 206 people.

However, the figure again fell in 2009, as only 138 foreigners chose to accept the money and return to their native countries.

The highest figure since the programme was initiated in 2003 was in 2004, when 267 foreigners were repatriated.

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