The UK's Home Office has said it does not plan on sending Syrian refugees and asylum seekers back to Syria, as it considers it “unsafe”.
Analysts considered this step as an affirmation that the UK will not follow the example of Denmark that considered some Syrian regions to be safe.
It follows an article by The Guardian on Sunday which said that a rejected Syrian asylum seeker had been told it would be safe for him to be returned to the country.
The 25-year-old sought sanctuary in the UK in May 2020. He fled forcible conscription into Bashar al-Assad’s army in 2017, saying that he would have been forced to kill other Syrians. He said that if he is forced back to Syria he will be targeted as a draft evader, arrested, detained, and killed.
The Guardian has seen a refusal letter sent to the man by the Home Office in December, in which an official said: “I am not satisfied to a reasonable degree of likelihood that you have a well-founded fear of persecution.”
The asylum seeker, who is not named for his protection, said that his lawyer informed him it was thought to be the first decision of its kind.
In a post on its official Twitter account, the Home Office said: "In the current circumstances we are not returning people to Syria. The UK Government agrees with the UN judgment that Syria remains unsafe for them."
The British Special Envoy to Syria, Jonathan Hargreaves, later added: "UK position remains unchanged: Syria is not currently safe for refugee returns. We are not sending people back to Syria."
The UK hosts a total of 19,964 Syrians through the Syrian vulnerable person resettlement program (VPR), statistics in December showed.
No European country forced the Syrians to return to their homeland, but the Danish government declared Damascus along with other Syrian regions safe. In May, the government decided to revoke the Danish residency permits of a number of Syrians.