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UKRAINE

Denmark plans ‘Ukraine towns’ to accommodate war refugees

Denmark’s government is preparing to build what has been termed by the country’s immigration minister as “Ukraine towns” to accommodate refugees expected to arrive in coming months.

Danish immigration minister Mattias Tesfaye
Danish immigration minister Mattias Tesfaye has confirmed plans to accommodate Ukrainian refugees together in small, temporary ‘towns’. Photo: Emil Helms/Ritzau Scanpix

The unusual measure is necessary because the number expected in a relatively short amount of time makes it difficult for the national welfare system to accommodate them through traditional means, Minister for Immigration and Integration Mattias Tesfaye said in an interview with newspaper Berlingske.

“We are preparing for Ukrainians to be accommodated in some form of Ukraine towns, where there perhaps will be childcare and school lessons for children in Ukrainian, which the Ukrainians themselves will help with,” Tesfaye said.

“Several parts” of Denmark will “experience Ukrainians living together,” he also said.

The plans are at an early stage and no specific locations could yet be named, Tesfaye said. But a “handful” of towns, which could be located around disused facilities like schools, hospitals, barracks or care homes, are expected by the minister.

The population of the towns is likely to be in the hundreds rather than thousands, he told Berlingske.

At a previous press briefing, Tesfaye said that 40,000 Ukrainian refugees were expected in Denmark by the end of Easter.

The minister said in the interview with Berlingske that the government prioritised preventing strain on the Danish welfare system.

A number of law changes could be made to Denmark’s immigration rules in order to make the ‘Ukrainian towns’ viable. These include requirements for children granted residence in Denmark to be taught in Danish at school and for adults to comply with rules relating to unemployment benefits.

READ ALSO: Copenhagen to build temporary ‘village’ for Ukrainian refugees

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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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