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Refugees worry after rightist party wins in Denmark

Many refugees in Denmark are worried after the nationalist Dansk Folkeparti became the second biggest party in Thursday's election. A new government with them will likely introduce stricter asylum and refugee policies.

In Trampoline House, an independent community center in Copenhagen that provides refugees and asylum seekers support, the result is a disaster.

"The blue block have told us before the election that they will roll back all improvements the reds did, including all financial support we are getting from the government. Without that we will have to close the center", says the group's daily leader, Morten Goll, sitting behind his desk.

The house is a place for refugees and asylum seekers to meet and get away from the asylum center outside of Copenhagen. It also offers classes in Danish, as well as activities and legal counseling with the aim of breaking through the social isolation and sense of powerlessness many refugees and asylum seekers experience.

Outside the office two Kurds from Syria are playing ping-pong - and they are worried too:

"I feel very nervous; the right wing doesn't like to have us here for some reason. I don't know why really," says one of them while he smashes the ball.

He stops playing for a while to add:

"When I came here I wanted to start my life again. I fled from war and lost everything I had. And now, when I am here, I want to become a part of the Danish society. A place like the Trampoline House is a very good way for faster integration, the one thing all of us want."

'Thank you Denmark for your support'

"We asylum seekers say: Thank you Danish people for your support", reads the back side of Niyo Joseph's T-shirt as he stands outside a polling station in Copenhagen on Thursday (pictured above). He and some other asylum seekers had decided to go out on the street to hand out candy and flyers to voters before they cast their ballots. An action to make people think one extra time before voting for more restrictions in asylum policies.

Dänemark Kopenhagen Flüchtlings- und Asylpolitik

Niyo is grateful for the support he gets, but now he is worried

"We want to show that the Danes have nothing to fear, and that we appreciate the help we get from Denmark," explains Niyo, who's from Congo and been waiting for a decision on his asylum application for almost two years. He lived in four different asylum centers across Denmark over that time.

"Life in asylum centers is very difficult. Mostly because of the stress of not knowing what will happen to you. You are very isolated and have no chance to meet people from Danish society when you just sit and wait," Niyo says.

The Trampoline House has been his, and many others, way out, and a chance to take part in the community.

"Our idea is to break a long isolation which often leads to depression, anger or listlessness," says Morten Goll back in the office.

"We want to reverse the situation because there is no point in them becoming victims, or clients of the welfare state. Most of the people who come to Denmark have never had a welfare state, or have no idea what welfare is. They want democracy and respect for their human life. But there is a claim from the right-wing that they just come to spend our money," Goll laments.

One of the promises before the election from both the liberal Venstre and Dansk Folkparti was to lower state-support for refugees as a way to push them toward finding work.

Goll does not see this as the way to handle the problem and thinks the Right has an agenda by doing this:

"As I see it, the right-wing like it like this. Because it means that they can point fingers at the asylum seekers and say they are not becoming anything, or doing anything and are more of a burden on our society. But, what chance do we give them? To be trapped in an asylum center for months without any money - what possibilities to integrate do they have then?”

'I'm afraid what will happen next'

More strict policies for refugees and asylum seekers is to be expected. Both political camps have been dueling amongst themselves throughout their campaigns over which side has the strictest refugee and asylum policies.

Dänemark Kopenhagen Flüchtlings- und Asylpolitik

One of the many campaign posters in Denmark calling for more restricted asylum policies

Dansk Folkeparti, by far the biggest critic of accepting asylum seekers, has repeatedly said that they want to send people back to refugee camps in neighboring countries near their home country, instead of being in Denmark. A reality that could come true for asylum seekers, like Niyo, if the party gets a strong mandate in parliament.

"I'm very afraid they will send me home again," he says and stops for a few seconds before ending the sentence.

"If they do, I will die," he said as he turned back to handing out more flyers.

But the Trampoline House and its many participants won't give up without a fight, says Morten Goll.

"I will go and talk to them and hopefully they will change their mind and continue to support us. If the problem is refugees not working, we have a solution for that. Denmark needs more places like ours – places that do not view people coming to Denmark as a problem. It is a very good way to put more people to work and to them become a part of society," he emphasized.

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