But the Danish Red Cross and the Danish Refugee Council are critical of the activities that are now also to be introduced in Sweden.

"People perceive it as coercion, almost like a prison, to be in an exit centre," says Charlotte Slente, Secretary General of the Danish Refugee Council.

She says that those who have had their asylum application rejected should instead live in their own accommodation as they are then more likely to cooperate and prepare for their return journey. At a return centre, or exit centre as they are called in Denmark, the residents tend to become passive, as they are not allowed to work or study, according to Anne la Cour of the Danish Red Cross.

Many return voluntarily

When Denmark introduced return centres in 2020, it was to speed up the process. Those who had been rejected would be helped to prepare for their return journey and then leave Denmark within a short period of time. But sometimes the asylum seekers are stateless and then there are countries that do not want to cooperate with Denmark to receive their citizens.

"We are working hard to get these countries, like Iran, to accept their citizens," says Kaare Dybvad Bek (S), Minister of Immigration and Integration in Denmark.

Plans for similar centres in Sweden

However, he is satisfied with the Danish model and says that about 95 percent of those who have been rejected return voluntarily.

"Right now, we have the lowest numbers we've had in Denmark in terms of how many people are here without a residence permit," he says.

Sweden plans to introduce five return centres, following the Danish model. The Danish Refugee Council regrets the Swedish government's decision.

"People are becoming passivated here at our exit centres. It is better that they live in their own accommodation until they leave," says Charlotte Slente, Secretary General of the Danish Refugee Council.