Denmark prepares to receive over 100,000 Ukrainian refugees

Denmark’s government on Friday said it was preparing to receive over 100,000 refugees from Ukraine, five times more than an earlier estimate.

Danish immigration minister Mattias Tesfaye
Danish immigration minister Mattias Tesfaye said at a March 25th press briefing that the country could receive over 100,000 refugees from Ukraine. Photo: Philip Davali/Ritzau Scanpix

Several billion kroner more than has currently been set aside to cover costs may therefore be spent assisting persons displaced from Ukraine by the Russian invasion, the government said.

Around 24,000 people have already applied for residency in Denmark under the recent special law for Ukrainian refugees, with 2,000 applying for asylum, Immigration Minister Mattias Tesfaye said at a briefing on Friday.

“On this basis the Danish authorities and Danish government are preparing for over 100,000 to come to Denmark,” Tesfaye said.

“I’d like to stress that this doesn’t mean that 100,000 Ukrainians are guaranteed to live in Denmark in a few months. Nobody knows how many will end up coming here,” he said.

Over two billion kroner have currently been set aside to cover 20,000 Ukrainian refugees. The majority of that money has been diverted from Denmark’s foreign development aid budget.

“The financial discussions are not over. We would just very much like the very difficult economic prioritisations to be seen as a whole. All European countries have been given an extra bill after Putin’s assault on Ukraine,” Tesfaye said.

The use of the foreign aid development budget to pay for taking in refugees domestically has been possible as standard practice since 1992, the government said.

Over 3.5 million people are reported to have fled from Ukraine since Moscow’s invasion in late February. Most travelled to neighbouring countries, with Poland receiving the highest number.

Should 100,000 Ukrainians eventually come to Denmark, the number of refugees the Nordic country takes in from the conflict will far outstrip that from both the Yugoslav wars in the 1990s and the 2015 refugee crisis.

Around 18,000 people from the former Yugoslavia came to Denmark as a result of the wars in the Balkans region, while 30,000 Syrian refugees including reunified family members came to Denmark following the 2015 crisis.

“This would be by far the highest number of displaced people to come to Denmark since World War II. Completely without comparison to anything we’ve seen since,” Tesfaye said.

READ ALSO: ANALYSIS: Why is Denmark treating Ukrainian refugees differently to those from Syria?

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Denmark could see new influx of Ukrainian refugees 

Denmark and other countries in Europe could see new refugees arrive from Ukraine this winter due to intensified Russian bombing campaigns, according to reports.

Denmark could see new influx of Ukrainian refugees 

Russian attacks on civilian areas and infrastructure have caused significant damage and NATO is telling European countries to prepare to receive more refugees ahead of a harsh winter, broadcaster DR reports

In response, municipal governments in Denmark are calling for a new strategy to distribute Ukrainian refugees across the country.

Currently, the Danish Immigration Service uses a ‘distribution key’ to decide where to settle refugees — as it stands, larger municipalities are expected to host a number of refugees proportional to their population. 

But Copenhagen Municipality said it is short of housing and wants the system to be modified.

“They should look at where there are municipalities in the country with empty houses where people can be accommodated, and then distribute according to that instead of distributing according to the size of the municipalities,” Jens-Kristian Lütken, Copenhagen Municipality’s elected committee leader for employment and integration, told DR. 

“If there is a new wave of displaced people from Ukraine, they will initially be staying in hotel rooms,” he said. 

Thus far, 34,945 Ukrainian refugees have been granted temporary protection in Denmark, DR writes. The number is far below initial projections of up to 100,000 from spring 2022. 

READ MORE: ‘Over a quarter’ of Ukrainian refugees in Denmark now working