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Local authority demands changes at Denmark’s Kærshovedgård asylum camp

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Ritzau/The Local - [email protected]
Local authority demands changes at Denmark’s Kærshovedgård asylum camp
Local politicians have demanded action over worsening conditions related to the Kærshovedgård asylum facility. File photo: Bo Amstrup/Ritzau Scanpix

Elected officials in the local Ikast-Brande Municipality have demanded the government act following a recent damning report on conditions at the Kærshovedgård ‘departure centre’.

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Local politicians in Ikast-Brande have reportedly run out of patience with crime and security issues at the Kærshovedgård ‘departure centre’ for rejected asylum seekers and convicted felons awaiting deportation.

The officials have stated their position in a letter sent by the Ikast-Brande municipal council to Mininster for Immigration and Integration Kaare Dybvad Bek, newswire Ritzau reports.

That comes after conditions at the centre were the focus of a stinging rebuke in a report by the Ombudsman, the Danish parliamentary watchdog, in a report published last week.

READ ALSO: Danish watchdog slams 'deteriorating' conditions at Kærshovedgård asylum facility

In the report, the ombudsman said conditions at the centre have deteriorated and are now so poor that they prevent residents from “living basic life”, while security at the facility was also criticised.

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“We cannot passively look on as criminal residents who have been sentenced to deportation and who live at Kærshovedgård Departure Centre repeatedly commit new crimes and create insecurity in the local community,” the officials write in the letter.

Incidents named in the letter including drugs cases and a recent fatal traffic accident for which a resident of Kærshovedgård is the subject of police charges.

“We need a solution now,” the council writes without providing any specific suggestions as to which measures could be taken.

While state funds have been provided for the purposes of improving safety in the community neighbouring the facility, this does not go far enough according to the authors of the letter.

“The crime which is committed by some of the residents of the departure centre is not reduced by this funding. It is the residents, their behaviour and their movements which should be in focus,” they say.

READ ALSO: New film reveals life at Denmark's controversial deportation centre

Located 13 kilometres from Ikast in Jutland, the Kærshovedgård facility is one of two deportation centres in Denmark used to house rejected male and female asylum seekers who have not agreed to voluntary return, as well as persons with so-called ‘tolerated stay’ (tålt ophold) status. Some residents are foreign nationals with criminal records who have served their sentences but are awaiting deportation.

The residents do not have permission to reside in Denmark but many cannot be forcibly deported because Denmark has no diplomatic relations or return agreements with their home countries.

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Kærshovedgård first became prominent in the mid-2010s, when it received criticism for imposing conditions that could lead to mental illnesses in residents.

"The security situation for the residents of Kærshovedgård appears to have worsened since the ombudsman's last visit, and this is a development that should be rectified,” the ombudsman, Niels Fenger, said in a statement on Friday.

Fenger said he was “of the impression that residents experience greater feelings of insecurity at the departure centre [and there is] a lot of crime including the sale of narcotics.”

“Additionally, the atmosphere at the departure centre carries a sense of deterioration and a significant number of residents have addiction problems,” the ombudsman statement said.

The ombudsman also observed that, since a previous visit in 2017, “there has been a change in the composition of residents in that people who have a deportation [criminal, ed.] sentence and who did not previously live at Kærshovedgård now make up the largest group at the location”.

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