Denmark has voted to confiscate valuables: here are all the other ways Europe has dehumanised refugees in the past year

Denmark has voted to confiscate valuables: here are all the other ways Europe has dehumanised refugees in the past year

Denmark's parliament voted a controversial bill into law on Tuesday that will confiscate refugees' valuables as part payment for the services they will receive as asylum seekers.

The bill had broad cross-party support, despite sharp criticism from many quarters and a warning from the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) that the policy violates international human rights laws.

There are reports that some refugees crossing into Germany and Switzerland are also having their property seized at the border.


Sadly, the move to confiscate personal valuables is just one of many rights violations that people undertaking perilous journeys to escape war and persecution in Syria, Afghanistan and several other places face.

Just some of the other obstacles that have faced refugees as more than one million people have arrive in Europe in the last year include:

1. Illegal deportation


Turkey has been deporting thousands of Syrians back over the border, and Norway has just begun sending refugees who crossed the Arctic border by bike back into Russia on buses.

2. Deliberate physical signs marking people out as asylum seekers

Picture: Reuters

Last week it emerged that asylum seekers in Middlesbrough were being targeted for verbal and physical abuse because their front doors were deliberately painted red.

A similar policy in Cardiff has also come to light, in which a firm has been criticised for requiring asylum seekers to wear identifying wristbands as a condition for receiving food.

3. Patronising 'how to behave in Europe' guides

One way countries are dealing with new arrivals is by printing text-free airplane safety guide format guides to life in Europe.

Unfortunately, these are at best, simplistic, and at worst, downright offensive, implying that people need what constitutes polite interaction and assault spelled out for them.

4. Arbitrary bans on entry to swimming pools and nightclubs after the Cologne sex attacks

Flowers and a letter reading 'One doesn't beat women - not even with flowers' in front of Cologne Cathedral (Getty)

In the wake of the targeted mass sex attacks carried out by men of Middle Eastern origin on women in Germany at the end of last year, some nightclubs in Denmark have decided on a door policy which doesn't allow anyone in who doesn't speak Danish, German or English.

A west German town also decided to bar all adult male refugees from the local swimming pool after complaints of sexual harassment.

5. Racist attacks from politicians and media

Sadly, there's so much anti-refugee sentiment, from David Cameron's "swarm" comments to Donald Trump's idea to just ban all Muslims from the US, we don't need to spell this out.

This Daily Mail cartoon depicting rats entering Europe in the wake of the Isis attacks in Paris sums up the situation pretty comprehensively.

6. Use of tear gas and water cannons

Picture: Getty

Hungarian riot police fired tear gas and water cannons on a refugee protest that lasted several days on the Serbian border in September.

Hundreds of people had gathered at a recently closed crossing point which stood in their way of the journey to Germany, which led to a tense stand-off in which some people threw missiles including stones and water bottles.

Police used the riot arsenal on men, women and children, which led to two children being hospitalised.

7. Erection of razor wire fences

Picture: Getty

Slovenia, Austria, Hungary and Macedonia have all put up 3m high razor wire fences and deployed border guards despite the Schengen Agreement, which allows free movement for EU citizens and visa holders across borders.

It is expected that the Schengen Agreement will be suspended for at least two years this week following EU meetings in Amsterdam and as many other countries reinstate their own controls.

8. Anti-immigrant marches

Far-right movements who treat immigration of any kind as a threat to "traditional" ways of life are rising to prominence in countries such as Germany, Finland and Sweden as refugee numbers increase.

Luckily, in Finland at least, people have been deflating the racist sentiment by using humour:

9. Bulldozing makeshift settlements


More than 2,000 refugees were evicted from their makeshift homes in the Jungle camp in Calais last week.

This time around, residents at least had a few days warning - in November refugees woke at 7am one day to find demolition vehicles already moving through the camp. Police used tear gas and batons to force people out, who were then forced to watch their precious remaining possessions, documentation and money be destroyed.

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