VORDINGBORG, Denmark: Bilal Alkale’s family is among the hundred or so Syrian refugees in Denmark whose lives are on hold amid an insufferable legal limbo -- their temporary residency permits...
VORDINGBORG, Denmark: Bilal Alkale’s family is among the hundred or so Syrian refugees in Denmark whose lives are on hold amid an insufferable legal limbo -- their temporary residency permits have been revoked but they can’t be deported. Now, they have no rights.
Alkale, who until recently ran his own small transportation company in Denmark, found out in March he wasn’t allowed to stay in the Scandinavian country where he has lived as a refugee since 2014, as Copenhagen now considers it safe for Syrians to return to Damascus.
His wife and three of his four children were also affected by the decision taken by Danish authorities. Once the ruling was confirmed on appeal in late September -- like 40 percent of some 200 other cases examined so far -- Alkale and his family were ordered to leave.
They were told that if they didn’t go voluntarily, they would be placed in a detention centre. The family has refused to leave. Normally they would have been deported by now, but since Copenhagen has no diplomatic relations with Damascus, they can’t be. And so they wait.
Days and weeks go by without any news from the authorities. In the meantime, the family has been stripped of their rights in Denmark. Alkale can’t sleep, his eyes riveted on his phone as he keeps checking his messages.
"What will become of me now?" the 51-year-old asks. "Everything is off. The kids aren’t going to school, and I don’t have work," he says, the despair visible on his weary face as he sits in the living room of the home he refurbished himself in the small village of Lundby, an hour-and-a-half’s drive south of Copenhagen.