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Denmark closes refugee tent camps as numbers drop

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Denmark closes refugee tent camps as numbers drop
Migrants and refugees will no longer be housed in tent camps. Photo: Sara Gangsted / Scanpix
12:47 CEST+02:00
The Danish Immigration Service (Udlændingestyrelsen - DIS) has announced that it will stop housing migrants in tent camps.
The refugee tent camps that were established in November 2015 as Denmark faced an influx of migrants and asylum seekers will be phased out by the end of the month, DIS said. 
 
The agency plans to close a total of 4,800 migrant accommodations, including the tent camps operated by the Danish Emergency Management Agency (Beredskabsstyrelsen - DEMA). 
 
DIS said that 2,800 of the accommodations would be closed permanently while the other 2,000 would remain available if refugee numbers suddenly picked up again. 
 
The tent camps are being closed because Denmark's initiatives to reduce asylum numbers have proven effective. According to numbers released by the Immigration Ministry on Monday, just 43 people claimed asylum last week, marking the seventh consecutive week in which the number of asylum applications has been below 100. 
 
While Denmark registered 21,000 asylum applications in 2015, only 4,700 were registered through the first eight months of 2016.
 
“We are following the developments in the entry numbers closely and we believe it is the right time to significantly reduce the overall capacity,” DIS head Tanja Franck said in a press release. 
 
Of the 2,000 spaces that will be kept on stand-by, 1,000 of them will be DEMA tent spaces that “can be put in use again with a few days' warning”. 
 
“Experience shows that the developments within the asylum arena can quickly change and therefore we will keep a few spaces ready that can quickly be used again if the development turns around,” Franck said. 
 
“That way, we will be better prepared for future increases in the accommodation levels than in the past two years,” she added. 
 
Denmark saw a marked increase in asylum numbers in September 2015, when some 400 migrants and refugees arrived within a 24-hour period. That was then followed by an all-time refugee record in October.
 
In January, Denmark implemented border control measures in response to a similar move by Sweden. Since then, the ostensibly temporary measures have been extended numerous times and are currently in place through November 12th.
 
Denmark also passed a comprehensive immigration bill in January that aimed to make the country less attractive to refugees and migrants. The bill included the infamous ‘jewellery law', which allows authorities to confiscate valuables from arriving migrants. Although it took effect in February, it wasn't used for the first time until late June
 
Home to 5.6 million people, Denmark's 21,000 asylum applications in 2015 made it one of the top EU destinations per capita for migrants. The totals, however, were far behind the 163,000 registered in neighbouring Sweden.
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