Danish official wants to back out of UN quota system to accept refugees

Denmark’s minority centre-right government doesn’t want to allow any refugees into the country this year under a United Nations program and will seek flexibility in determining how many may subsequently resettle, according to a statement from an official on Saturday 9 September.

Since 1989, Denmark has pledged to take 500 refugees a year selected by the UN for resettlement. This program is separate from European Union efforts to relocate migrants among member states, which has encountered strong ­opposition from countries such as Hungary.

“It’s hard to predict how many refugees and migrants will show up at the border to seek asylum, and we know it may be hard to integrate those who arrive here,” Danish Minister of Immigration and Integration Inger Stoejberg said. She further argued that a more flexible quota regime was required so that Denmark was “prepared”, but “not obliged”, to take a certain number of refugees for resettlement every year.

Denmark, with a population of around 5.7 million, has received around 5,700 asylum seekers so far this year, and anticipates that the annual number will be less than half of the 21,000 applications it received last year.

The anti-immigration stance in Denmark was embodied by the introduction of a controversial rule in 2016 allowing police to confiscate their valuables to help pay for their accommodation. Denmark also introduced more rigid border controls, forcing more potential asylum seekers back to Germany.

Holger K. Nielsen, a senior member of the small opposition Socialist People’s Party, said it was “totally wrong of Stoejberg to close the door to a quota on refugees,” saying she was letting down “the weakest refugees in the world.” Furthermore,  Zoran Stevanović, regional spokesman for the UN refugee agency, noted that Denmark has focused on implementing restrictive responses rather than providing sanctuary and solidarity. In particular the UNHCR has expressed regret that Denmark has introduced restrictions to its asylum policy rather than focusing on building and promoting a fair distribution of asylum seekers within all countries in the EU.

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