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Denmark to limit family reunification for refugees

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Denmark to limit family reunification for refugees
Kurdish Syrian refugees wait at the Turkish-Syrian border. For refugees who have made it to Denmark, they will have to wait one year before their family can join them. Photo: Murad Sezer/Scanpix
14:00 CEST+02:00
Hoping to stem the tide of refugees from Syria, the government will now only allow for family reunifications if refugees' initial one-year resident permit is renewed.
As a follow-up to its decision to introduce a new temporary residence permit for asylum seekers, the Justice Ministry said on Tuesday that refugees fleeing civil wars like the one in Syria will only be able to bring their family members into the country if their original one-year resident permit is extended under the new rules. 
“There are major consequences and costs associated with moving an entire family to Denmark. Therefore, that should only happen if there is the prospect of remaining in Denmark for a certain duration. But if the conflict [in a refugee’s home country, ed.] drags on and the stay is extended, then it is reasonable to bring one’s spouse and children to Denmark,” the justice minister, Karen Hækkerup, said in a press release.
Hækkerup announced the new one-year residence permits in September as a way for Denmark to deal with the record influx of asylum seekers. 
"The majority of the refugees we see at the moment are not individually persecuted in their home country. We therefore need to look at how we can ensure that these people can be sent home as soon as conditions improve in the home country,” she said last month. 
With the new proposal, which will be presented to parliament in November, the Justice Ministry said it would be willing to make some exceptions to the family reunification rules.
“The proposed rules will take into account that there can be exceptional reasons in which family considerations will weigh so heavily that Denmark’s international obligations will require family reunification to take place sooner,” the ministry press release reads. 
It specifically mentions situations in which a refugee’s family member is handicapped or seriously ill. 
Denmark is expected to take in nearly 15,000 asylum seekers in 2014, well above the Justice Ministry’s estimate of 7,500 to 10,000. Most of the asylum seekers are coming from Syria. 
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