Refugees – pro or contra?

Refugees coming to Europe is a popular and very talked about subject right now all over the world. The purpose of this article is to make the subject less stiff and political like and also create awareness among students. In order to have a wider perspective, two people with different opinions upon the topic have been interviewed.

Text: Cristina Lazar // Fotos: Dansk Flygtningehjælp

The first interview is addressed to Christian “chrb” Camoro Bach, who is a young musician and Danish citizen living in Aalborg.

  1. First of all, are you for or against refugees coming to Denmark?

„Definately for. I don’t think there is any doubt here. It’s a very dire situation for a lot of Syrians and it is despicable to see people that actively try to dismantle any good relations and harm their perception of us.I get that a lot of people are ruled by fear, the fear of the unknown, which is a very human and understandable reaction. But the people who, even when knowing this, try to push an unsocial agenda, are just heartless.”

  1. Do you think Denmark as a country will be affected? And if yes, how?

„Of course we will be affected, Denmark has after all a very stellar reputation in virtually all international matters. Recent history shows that we have the capacity to accept and more or less successfully integrate the previous waves of refugees who have come here. Affected, but in a positive way, I’d like to believe. It has worked before and it will work again.”

  1. How do you think Denmark could make good use of the refugees who have an university degree from their homeland?

„There was just a recent case of a “nomad doctor” who treated Danish patients, but turned out not to be qualified. A terrible case, so we should very much keep in mind the cultural differences, but also make sure that they are qualified enough. In areas like that, I believe we could get better.”

  1. How about work: Do you think Danes and refugees should have equal chances for jobs, considering that refugees won’t know Danish at first? Do you think their qualifications from their home country should be taken in consideration?

„Short answer: Yes. Long answer: Assuming that Danish is not a requirement- personality, chemistry, and qualifications should be the deciding factors. Not the color of your skin, your ethnicity – in fact there is a lack of qualified workers in several fields. Just think of the ever approaching future where a smaller workforce has to serve a bigger elderly population. We need all the qualified help we can get.”

  1. How about financial help? Do you agree with a large sum of money offered to refugees because of their status?

„There are many ways to go about this. Some smarter and more “sustainable” than others. More than anything I believe that giving them stability, comfort and opportunities to prosper always beats a written check. Remember that they didn’t come here for money but for the 3 things I just mentioned. That’s why they fled, that’s what was taken away from them.”

  1. Let’s suppose Denmark accepts all these refugees. How do you think Danes will treat them per total?

„As I mentioned before. We have been taking huge amounts of refugees before, Iranians, Tamilians, people from Jugoslavia etc. So I don’t imagine it will be any different. There will always be a rotten apple in a bunch, but I think the vast majority have the courage to welcome them. As we already have seen that people have done with the Syrians.”

  1. Do you have acquaintances who are against refugees? If yes, what are their reasons?

„Not just acquaintances, but some family! Even my father. He is a very intelligent man, has travelled a lot, which makes it so much harder for me to understand why. For many this hate is rooted in „fear”. Fear of the unknown in general. A lot of smart people could say more than me about this. I get the rationale behind it, but it is still difficult for me, maybe because of my father.

The next person interviewed is also a young citizen of Denmark living in Aalborg – Kim Johannsen. Below is his opinion about refugees in the Danish and European context.

  1. First of all, are you for or against refugees coming to Denmark?

I think the question cannot be answered with simply arguing whether I’m for or against it. It all depends on how the situation currently is economically, socially and how well the state is handling the refugees who have already come to Denmark. As the situation is right now, Denmark is dealing with obvious integration problems of former refugees because of the lack of action from the local municipalities. In the highly populated cities of Denmark and many of the cities in the southern region, Denmark has for years dealt with ghettos and unintegrated communities. My point of view here is both based on the experience of living in Aabenraa, one of these cities which has been dealing with integration problems for years, and on how much attention the media has on this. Before we start to just let the refugees flow into Denmark, I think it is important to use those resources on solving our current integration problems before we start to welcome new ones. If we can’t even handle the former refugees we have, how should we be able to form a better future for those, who are coming? 

Another issue that we are dealing with is culture clashes. Many may argue that our culture is constantly changing and we should adapt our culture to also fit theirs. I love my country and I love our values and culture. Therefore, I would feel disappointed if that would have to change, because we need to align. If my country’s values are changing because of people who want to practice their own culture, then where do I go to live with the culture I am keen on and feel safe in?”

  1. Do you think Denmark as a country will be affected? And if yes, how?

 “Denmark will be affected in many ways including culture, economy, employment rates, educational level and policy. My main concern about Denmark is the economy and political model. As many might know, a lot of services which are handled in the private sector in most of the world, here are controlled by the state. That means, that whoever gets accepted into Denmark, has free access to a lot of services and that is usually something people pay for in other countries. This is something that the Danes over generations have been working hard for and paid a lot of taxes to reach. Today, many of the elders don’t even get the help they deserve, because of the lack of resources from the state. How can it then be justified, that those people, who have worked hard for their whole life to get the state to this welfare, today cannot get what they have worked for? But some people who have not at all “ given a shit” about Denmark can get more than an unemployed Dane, simply because they are escaping from their own country. And even though they get the support FOR FREE, some still complain about how they cannot get the rest of their family into Denmark. That is what sometimes makes me puke. It is though important to note, that there are also some, who are more than grateful because of the support they can get in Denmark. I have my deepest respect for those. The ones who aren’t thankful, those make me angry.”

  1. Do you think Denmark could make good use of the refugees who have a university degree from their homeland?

„It still depends on how well these people integrate. Good integration doesn’t necessarily come from a high level of education, but rather from people who adapt to a different environment. But if they are willing to do that, no matter if they have a university degree or not, they will all be able to contribute to not only providing work force, but also creating a rise in demand.”

  1. How about work: Do you think Danes and refugees should have equal chances for jobs, considering refugees won’t know Danish at first? Do you think their qualifications from their home country should be taken in consideration?

 „I think refugees should be allowed to work as any other Dane, but also on the same rules and conditions as a Dane. That means that they should not have any pros over a Dane getting a job but be on equal terms with a Dane.”

  1. How about financial help? Do you agree with a large sum of money offered to refugees because of their status?

 „No, I don’t. I even think it is too much, considering they get the same as a Danish student. I would rather see the emergency organisations taking the role in supporting the refugees instead of the state. The state is founded by its people, for its people. And I don’t think it’s fair to take the Danish people’s commonly saved up money, to support someone who has never contributed to anything for the Danish state. At least, I think the state-based support should be financed by the foreign aid and not by the common state welfare economy, as it is now.”

  1. Let’s suppose Demmark accepts all these refugees. How do you think Danes will treat them per total?

 „I actually don’t think the level of discrimination is so high as the media sometimes exposes it to be. I do think though, that many Danes might feel neglected by the state, when they see how their country is changing because of how the refugees change a lot of different factors, including economy, welfare, employment rates etc. There will always be racism, but in general, I think the average Dane is very accepting of refugees, as long as they behave.”

  1. Do you have acquintances who are pro refugees? If yes, what are their reasons?

 „Lots of. What I usually hear is that they think we should help people who are fleeing from war. And yes we should! But helping is not always just to let the refugees in. If we don’t have the resources, not only finances but also human resources to take care of these people, we are not helping them. I believe that the money we spend on refugees in Denmark could serve better by providing aid in their home country, as Danish money generally can buy more in Syria than they can in Denmark.”