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UKRAINE

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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UKRAINE

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

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