Four countries lose Danish development aid as funds diverted to help Ukrainian refugees

The Danish government has set aside two billion kroner to enable the country to take in refugees. The spending will be funded by diverting the country’s development aid budget from countries including Syria, Mali and Bangladesh.

Danish Minister for Foreign Development Flemming Møller Mortensen.
Danish Minister for Foreign Development Flemming Møller Mortensen. Photo: Ida Marie Odgaard/Ritzau Scanpix

A Foreign Ministry list of projects that will lose financial backing also shows that Burkina Faso will also lose out on previously pledged Danish development aid.

The projects are to see their funding withdrawn because the government is diverting its foreign development aid to cover the costs of taking in refugees domestically.

Minister for Foreign Development Flemming Møller Mortensen told newspaper Berlingske that the diversion of aid spending was uncontroversial.

“The primary aim of the government’s foreign development strategy is that refugees must be helped in near areas [to conflict, ed.]. Denmark has now actually become a near area, and a special responsibility follows that,” Mortensen said.

“There is therefore no contradiction between what our strategy states and what we are doing now,” he said.

The two billion kroner in foreign development aid for refugees from Ukraine is based on an estimate of 20,000 refugees arriving in Denmark.

The government has signalled that is believes “significantly more” than that number will now come, according to Immigration Minister Mattias Tesfaye.

Should that happen, further funds could be taken from the foreign development budget.

War-torn Syria and neighbouring regions are to lose 50 million kroner due to the decision.  Mali, which is plagued by terror groups, loses 70 million kroner, and Bangladesh, one of the world’s poorest countries, will lose 100 million kroner in Danish aid spending.

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Danish People’s Party decimated by new high-profile departures

The anti-immigration Danish People’s Party now only has a handful of lawmakers left in parliament after four high-profile departures this weekend.

Danish People’s Party decimated by new high-profile departures

Two former deputy leaders, Søren Espersen and Peter Skaarup, who have had several high profile spokesperson roles in the right wing party, announced they were quitting its parliamentary group this weekend, as did two further members of the group, Jens Henrik Thulesen Dahl and Dennis Flydtkjær.

That follows several other resignations from the parliamentary group earlier this year after Morten Messerschmidt was in January elected as the party’s new leader.

The Danish People’s Party (Dansk Folkeparti, DF) received 8.7 percent of the votes in the 2019 election, giving it 16 seats in parliament. It now only has six of those seats remaining following the resignations.

Those numbers are a far cry from the party’s strong showings in the early 2010s, which culminated in a 21 percent vote share and 37 seats at the 2015 general election.

DF was also on the wrong end of a trouncing in the November 2021 local elections, which elicited the resignation of former leader and party co-founder Kristian Thulesen Dahl.

Dahl remains a member of the party but last week said he would not run for DF in the next general election, set for 2023.

READ ALSO: Former leader of Danish far-right party to quit at next election

But Dahl’s official exit from the party is a “matter of hours and days”, according to political analyst Hans Engell of media Altinget.

“We are now at a decisive point because the entire top end, the founding fathers, have left the party,” Engell said to news wire Ritzau.

“All that remains is what I would call the jewel in the crown: Kristian Thulesen Dahl. It’s just a matter of hours and days before he leaves the party,” Engell said.

The analyst also said that Messerschmidt’s task in restoring the party was “almost unsolvable”.

DF co-founder Pia Kjærsgaard, who led the party until 2012, remains loyal to Messerschmidt and aimed thinly veiled criticism at Dahl on social media on Sunday.

The party’s issues are further complicated by the launch last week of a new party, Danmarksdemokraterne (“The Denmark Democrats”) by former Liberal (Venstre) party immigration minister Inger Støjberg, who was ejected from parliament late last year following a guilty verdict in a special impeachment court.

Having served her sentence for the conviction, Støjberg is now bidding to return to parliament with the newly-formed party. Given the reputation of Støjberg as an immigration hardliner, some overlap with DF’s signature politics on the area is likely.

Dahl has been linked with the new party and some of the other DF defectors have already signalled their willingness to join the project, according to Ritzau.