Denmark: Increase in pensioner repatriation

Denmark: Increase in pensioner repatriation

Via Kristeligt Dagblad:

According to the Danish Refugee Council, 613 refugees and immigrants voluntarily returned home in 2011, compared with 370 in 2010.

Two thirds ere pensioners, and the organization says it receives many request from New Danes who want to check out the possibility of retires in their homeland.

"The biggest groups are Bosnians, Turks and Serbs, and the vast majority are older people who have some form of pension. They say they want to get old in their homeland, where they have family and feel less lonely. They are afraid of dying in Denmark, and they are worried about the prospect of being so sick in Denmark that they wouldn't be able to take care of themselves and would have to go to a nursing home," says repatriation consultant Vagn Klim Larsen of the Danish Refugee Council.

The Refugee Council says the increased interest in repatriation is caused mostly by the fact that financial aid for returning refugees was increased in 2010. A refugee or immigrant who wants to settle down in his homeland gets 123.290 kroner to begin a new life. Additionally he can get help with travel expenses, health insurance for the first year, and in some cases get some of his Danish pension.

"It's a very big decision to settle down permanently in your homeland. A refugee can return to Denmark within a year, but immigrants have no right to come back. Once they leave, they lose their rights in Denmark. We therefore advise them to consider the decision very carefully," says Vagn Klim Larsen.

Hüseyin Arac, former Social Democrat MP who today heads an immigrant help center at Gellerup Library in Aarhus, says he also sees increasing interest in returning home. 130 people recently met at the library for an event on repatriation.

Hüseyin Arac says it can be a good arrangement for both the immigrants and the Danish state, as the state will save social welfare costs. Many of those who want to return to their homeland are on early-pensions or pensions, and can have a better life in their homeland. But, he says, it's problematic that immigrants, unlike refugees, can't go back on their decision, and lose their rights. It makes it difficult for them to visit family in Denmark. And there's a need for better health insurance, if the scheme is to become a success.

Christine E. Swane, head of Ensomme Gamles Værn (Welfare for Lonely Elderly) recently finished a research project on elderly Turkish immigrants, and she warns against thinking that repatriation is a solution for most of the 24,000 non-Western immigrants over 60 who live in Denmark.

She says she doesn't think the number of returnees will continue to grow, since in many cases the elderly immigrants are in poor health condition and need the Danish health system. They often have children in Denmark and therefore need a link to both Denmark and their homeland.

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