Saturday

3rd Dec 2022

Danish anti-migrant ads get hostile reception in Lebanon

  • (Photo: James Bilbrey)

Denmark’s publication of anti-migrant ads in Lebanese newspapers has prompted some Arab readers to say it “doesn’t think about the humanitarian side” of the Syria war.

The ads first appeared in the Assafir, Annahar, and Daily Star newspapers on Monday (7 September).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • Danish ad in Lebanon's Daily Star newspaper (Photo: EUobserver)

They warn people Denmark has “decided to tighten regulations concerning refugees”.

They note: people must now wait at least five years to get permanent residence; they’ll get up to 50 percent less welfare than before; and Denmark is speeding up expulsion of failed asylum seekers.

The ads were also published on Danish government websites in 10 languages, circulated on social media, and put on the walls of asylum centres in Denmark.

Inger Stoejberg, the Danish integration minister, told TV2 News the campaign cost €30,000.

She noted the figure is the same as the cost, for one year, of hosting a refugee. Given the expectation that some people will decide not to go to Denmark after reading the ads, she described them as “good business”.

The campaign comes amid a surge in migration toward the EU, in part, due to the Syria war.

It targets Lebanon because it’s home to one of the largest Syria refugee communities - some 1.4 million people.

But whatever financial benefit the ads may bring, they come at a cost to Denmark’s reputation.

Mona, a 40-year old Lebanese woman, told EUobserver: “They [the Danes] are thinking more about the situation in the next 10 years, from the point of view of protecting their own citizens. We think more about the humanitarian side of Syrian refugees who preferred to risk drowning [in the Mediterranean] than to stay and face the war”.

She added: “States don’t think about the humanitarian side unless there is a price”.

Imad, 42, said: “They cannot stop the refugees [from coming], but this is meant to intimidate them psychologically”.

Bassam, 34, noted the ads are “not totally negative” because they say if you learn Danish you’ll have more chance of getting a job.

But Hussein, 23, showed another side of Arabic opinion.

He said EU governments are letting in refugees because they feel guilty for their own “policies in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, etc.”. He added that if they wanted to, the Western powers “could stop the wars”.

The ad campaign also has critics in Denmark.

A counter-campaign on Facebook titled “We welcome you to Denmark” has been endorsed by 23,000 people. “We are not all like minister Stoejberg and the rest of the Danish government”, it says.

The ads came out amid the first arrivals, in Denmark over the weekend, of 300 refugees from Austria and Germany.

They also came out amid a Danish campaign for its former PM, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, to be the next UN high commissioner for refugees.

The current UN commissioner, Antonio Guterres, whose mandate expires at the end of the year, recently noted that Lebanon has a record high per capita number of refugees - more than 20 percent of its population.

Apart from the Syrians, it also hosts 600,000 Palestinian people exiled by Israel.

Most Syrian refugees live in poor conditions in camps in Lebanon’s north-east Bekaa Valley region.

Last month, a handful of people drowned when they tried to reach Europe by boat from the port of Tripoli in north Lebanon.

Germany sets example on EU migrants

Thousands of people seeking refuge arrived in Germany over the weekend as Austria announces plans 'to end emergency migrant measures'.

Column

Lebanon is a new focal point

More than the tangible destruction, the explosion in the port of Beirut meant the ultimate destruction of hope for many civilians.

Portugal was poised to scrap 'Golden Visas' - why didn't it?

Over the last 10 years, Portugal has given 1,470 golden visas to people originating from countries whose tax-transparency practices the EU finds problematic. But unlike common practice in other EU states with similar programmes, Portugal has not implemented "due diligence".

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP27: Food systems transformation for climate action
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region and the African Union urge the COP27 to talk about gender equality
  3. International Sustainable Finance CentreJoin CEE Sustainable Finance Summit, 15 – 19 May 2023, high-level event for finance & business
  4. Friedrich Naumann Foundation European DialogueGender x Geopolitics: Shaping an Inclusive Foreign Security Policy for Europe
  5. Obama FoundationThe Obama Foundation Opens Applications for its Leaders Program in Europe
  6. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos

Latest News

  1. EU must break Orbán's veto on a tax rate for multinationals
  2. Belarus dictator's family loves EU luxuries, flight data shows
  3. How Berlin and Paris sold-out the EU corporate due diligence law
  4. Turkey's EU-funded detention centres ripe with abuse: NGO
  5. In green subsidy race, EU should not imitate US
  6. EU Commission proposes suspending billions to Hungary
  7. EU: Russian assets to be returned in case of peace treaty
  8. Frontex leadership candidates grilled by MEPs

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Committee of the RegionsRe-Watch EURegions Week 2022
  2. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  4. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  6. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us