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Denmark spent 20 million kroner on unused refugee tent camp

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Denmark spent 20 million kroner on unused refugee tent camp
A November 2015 file photo of a tent camp for refugees at Thisted. Photo: Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix
14:25 CEST+02:00
A number of refugee facilities were built by Denmark in 2015 using tents to accommodate asylum seekers.

Four years later one such ‘tent camp’ remains operational – even though it has never had a single resident and its power supply was cut off in 2016.

The cost of running the camp from August 2015 until August this year totalled 20.8 million kroner (2.9 million euros), according to public access information from South Zealand and Lolland/Falster Police reported by regional media Sjællandske.

Located on the grounds of the Vordingborg military barracks, the facility was hastily set up in 2015 as refugees were entering Denmark via Rødby, a southern port 45 minutes from Germany by ferry.

But the camp never housed a single resident.

It is now the only refugee camp of its kind remaining in Denmark which could begin taking in refugees at a day’s notice, should this become necessary.

Justice Minister Nick Hækkerup, in a response to parliament’s Immigration and Integration Committee (Udlændinge- og Integrationsudvalg), said he intended to keep the facility in place but may make some changes to it, according to Sjællandske’s report.

The cost of heating the camp from 2015-16 was 2.9 million kroner, while running costs for the facility in 2016 reached 11.1 million kroner as electricity and water supplies were connected, the media reports.

Running costs so far in 2019 are 600,000 kroner, while last year’s costs reached 1.6 million kroner.

A similar tent facility at Søgårdlejren near the South Jutland town of Kliplev has been decommissioned and the tents put into storage.

The total cost of the two tent camps is currently at 59.7 million kroner, Sjællandske reports.

Temporary tent facilities were implemented by the then-government as the numbers of refugees entering Europe increased dramatically in 2015.

The sudden increase made it necessary to build such camps, the government argued at the time, but critics said that permanent buildings could have been used and suggested the use of tents was partly a symbolic choice.

21,316 people applied for asylum in Denmark in 2015, compared to 14,792 in 2014 and 7,557 in 2013.

From 2016, the number began to fall, with 6,266 asylum applications that year. By 2018, it had dropped to 3,559, while 2019 has seen 995 seek asylum up to and including the month of May.

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