Aarhus mayor says Danish city will take in Ukrainian refugees

Denmark’s second-largest city Aarhus is prepared to offer protection to refugees from the war in Ukraine, its mayor said on Friday.

Aarhus mayor Jacob Bundsgaard
Aarhus mayor Jacob Bundsgaard said his city would 'do its part' to help refugees from Ukraine, should any come to Denmark. File photo: Bo Amstrup/Ritzau Scanpix

Jacob Bundsgaard, the mayor of Aarhus, told media on Friday that his city was among Danish municipalities that would take in refugees from Ukraine if any were to come to Denmark.

“In Aarhus we are now preparing to receive any refugees the war might send our way and make sure they get a safe and good place to stay,” Bundsgaard told news wire Ritzau.

“We as a city have an obligation to do our part in the humanitarian task facing Denmark and the world,” he said.

Aarhus is not the only local authority to have signalled it is prepared to help people displaced from Ukraine by the illegal Russian invasion, which began on Thursday.

Hvidovre Municiaplity near Copenhagen has initiated an assessment of whether refugees can be taken in, mayor Ander Wolf Andresen said.

“I have on Thursday asked the administration in Hvidovre Municipality to investigate where we can provide lodging for Ukrainian refugees if we are asked to do so,” Andresen said.

The mayor also said he had asked municipal staff to check whether the local authority had investments in Russia or made purchases from Russia.

The Danish Immigration Service, Udlændingestyrelsen, on Thursday asked Red Cross Denmark to prepare for the possibility of refugee arrivals from Ukraine.

The NGO’s head of department for asylum, Anne la Cour Vågen, told newspaper Politiken that it was looking into capacity at existing asylum centres.

The Red Cross has not received information as to how many refugees the Immigration Service wants to ensure places for.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How Denmark could be impacted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

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UPDATED: Denmark’s government supports Ukraine EU candidacy 

Denmark’s government has said it will support Ukraine’s bid for EU membership after the European Commission deemed the country’s candidacy viable.

UPDATED: Denmark's government supports Ukraine EU candidacy 

Ukraine’s bid to be part of the EU got a majority backing in Danish Parliament on Friday after the European Commission backed the bid.

“It is really, really important that Europe opens the door for Ukraine, so that we can get started to ensure that Ukraine can be ready for EU membership,” foreign affairs spokesperson Michael Aastrup told newswire Ritzau.

Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod said on Twitter that Denmark was looking forward to continuing cooperation with Ukraine on reforms.

The possibility for Ukraine to become part of the EU is conditional on Ukraine implementing reforms – on rule of law, oligarchs, human rights and tackling corruption – European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Friday. She added that “good work has been done.”

Candidacy status is a significant step to joining the EU but the whole process can take years.

“When a candidate’s status is granted, it is not the same as Ukraine being ready to join the EU. There are a large number of criteria to be met and there are a large number of outstanding ones that Ukraine lacks. These are some of the things that are being addressed”, Michael Aastrup said.

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen will attend a meeting in Brussels next week where the recommendation from the European Commission will be voted and signed off by the EU’s 27 member states. France, Germany and Italy have also already backed Ukraine’s bid but the decision has to be unanimous.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has said that status as a candidate for EU membership is vital to his country, while the country’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba has said the question could be decisive in the war to defend Ukraine from invasion by Russia.

READ MORE: Number of Ukrainian refugees working in Denmark triples in one month