Danish PM sends self to Morocco for UN conference

Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen on Thursday evening ended uncertainty about who will represent Denmark at next week’s UN Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration meetings in Morocco by announcing he would attend himself.

Danish PM sends self to Morocco for UN conference
Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen. File photo: Claus Bech/Ritzau Scanpix

Rasmussen had previously said that the final decision over which minister Denmark would send to the meeting rested with him.

That came after Minister for Immigration and Integration Inger Støjberg and Minister for International Development Ulla Tørnæs both stated they would not be going.

“I’m currently looking at how other countries are represented and we will then send a minister in line with that. I decide who will be sent to the meeting,” Rasmussen said earlier this week.

Germany is sending Chancellor Angela Merkel to the conference, and several other government leaders will also be present.

The announcement could drive a wedge between Rasmussen and the anti-immigration Danish People’s Party, which is against the UN declaration, claiming it could force Denmark to become more lenient on migrants.

In response, the PM has stressed that the compact is not legally binding.

“The UN declaration is a symbol of whether or not we want to part of international partnerships, and I am pleased that a broad majority in parliament signalled clear support for Denmark’s participation during Wednesday’s parliamentary debate,” he said in a press statement.

“Cross-border problems require cross-border solutions – not isolation,” he added.

“As Prime Minister, I am in no doubt as to on which side of the line Denmark should be,” he said.

The UN compact marks the first time the world organization has agreed on a list of global objectives to tackle the challenges involved in migration for individual migrants, and at the same time to maximize benefits for the countries taking in immigrants.

A legally non-binding agreement, it includes a stated intention to give vulnerable migrants equal status to refugees and to work against economic support for media that spread intolerant views on migrants.

The text also provides for easier repatriation of migrants and is intended to help organize migration more effectively.

Not every country supports it. Among others, the United States, Hungary, Austria, the Czech Republic, Switzerland and Slovakia have spoken out against the pact.

After the declaration has been politically agreed on Monday, it will be put to a vote at the UN General Assembly in New York. That will take place later this month.



‘We’ll take quota refugees’: Denmark to UN

Denmark is set to resume accepting refugees under the UN’s quota system after a three-year hiatus.

'We’ll take quota refugees': Denmark to UN
Syrian refugees at the al-Za'atari refugee camp in Jordan in 2012. File photo: Majed Jaber / Reuters / Ritzau Scanpix

Minister for Immigration and Integration Mattias Tesfaye has informed the UN’s arm for refugees, UNHCR, that Denmark will take in refugees protected under the UNHCR quota system from this year.

“I informed (the UN on July 11th) that Denmark wishes to accept a small group of quota refugees who require special [medical, ed.] assistance from 2019,” Tesfaye told newspaper Politiken in a written message.

A number of steps are involved in the process of deciding which refugees will be taken in by Denmark, the minister said.

“It’s too early to say when the first quota refugees can be accepted, just as the exact number for 2019 is yet to be confirmed,” he said.

Previous annual numbers of UN quota refugees have been around 500.

The government decision on the issue was set out in the agreement reached between Tesfaye’s party, the Social Democrats, and three left-wing allied parties in the political agreement which followed the general election in June.

That deal enabled the Social Democrats to form a minority government as Denmark’s left won an overall majority in the election.

In addition to the group cited by Tesfaye, the immigration ministry has also informed UNHCR that it will accept general quota refugees from 2020.

Denmark first refused to take refugees from the UN’s quota system for resettlement from its UNHCR camps under the previous government in 2016, citing a need for “breathing space” to manage those already in the country. The policy was renewed annually up to and including last year.

The UNHCR’s North Europe spokesperson Caroline Bach praised the decision by the Danish government.

“With an increasing number of refugees who have a pressing need to be resettled, these gestures of solidarity are more important than ever,” Bach said according to Politken’s report.

The anti-immigration Danish People’s Party (DF) called the decision a “break of campaign promises” by the Social Democrats.

“We consider this a break of campaign promises made by the Social Democrats during the election to retain a strict immigration policy,” DF parliamentary group leader Peter Skaarup said.

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