What is a refugee?

A refugee is a person who has left his home country on the run from persecution - because of race, religion, political attitudes or the like. A refugee risks losing his life, being imprisoned and tortured or violating his human rights in other ways in his home country.

The 1951 UN Refugee Convention defines a refugee as "who, because of well-founded fear of persecution because of his race, religion, nationality, his affiliation with a particular social group or his political views, is outside the country in which he has citizenship and who are unable - or because of such fear - do not want to seek the protection of this country. " According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), at the end of 2017, there were 25.4 million refugees and 3.1 million asylum seekers in the world. The Refugee Convention covers only those who have fled to another country. But many flee within the confines of their own land - they are referred to as internally displaced. They may be fleeing civil wars, armed conflicts, ethnic or religious persecution, natural disasters or climate change problems - and their need for help and protection often resembles that of refugees. By the end of 2017, according to UNHCR, there were 40 million internally displaced people in the world. There are a total of 68.5 million refugees and internally displaced people in the world - an increase of just under 3 million in one year.

In Denmark, foreigners who are recognized as refugees can receive three types of protection and residence permits depending on their individual case. Refugees who fulfill the conditions of the Refugee Convention can obtain asylum in Denmark as convention refugees. In addition, refugees who - for reasons other than those mentioned in the Refugee Convention - may face the death penalty, torture or other inhuman and degrading treatment in their home country may be granted protection status in Denmark. Finally, Denmark provides temporary protection status for refugees in need of protection due to a particularly serious situation in their home country with arbitrary violence and abuse of civilians, but where the person is not individually persecuted. Most European countries have legislation that extends beyond the Refugee Convention. Since 1979, in agreement with UNHCR, Denmark has received refugees for resettlement and since 1989 and until 2016 we have received approx. 500 per year under this scheme. This scheme is called resettlement, and the refugees resettled in Denmark are often referred to as quota refugees or UN refugees (see question 8 for a description of recent legislation in relation to quota refugees).

In very special cases, the Ministry of Immigration and Integration can grant humanitarian residence permits to people with serious physical or mental illness.

Denmark does not grant asylum to people who have fled due to natural disasters, climate change, poverty or poor living conditions.

An asylum seeker is a person who seeks to be recognized as a refugee and gain residence in Denmark. Thus, when a person is granted asylum, it is a recognition that he or she is a refugee and is at risk of persecution in his home country. Danish foreign law and practice are based on the international conventions that Denmark has acceded to.