Asylum seekers will be able to live in Copenhagen for the first time if the city’s deputy mayor for integration, Anna Mee Allerslev (Radikale), gets her way.
Speaking to Politiken newspaper, Allerslev said she wants to establish a ‘reception house’ where asylum seekers can live for the first month in the country and where they can receive language classes and work.
Allerslev is a critic of the current system in which asylum seekers often live for years in asylum centres that are generally located in the countryside.
“Both the conditions and the uncertain time in the Danish centres are completely unacceptable,” she wrote in a comment to Politiken.
Allerslev named Ørestad, Ny Carlsberg or Nordhavn as potential locations of the new welcome home that she expects would house about 360 asylum seekers.
There is broad support for a government proposal to allow asylum seekers to live and work outside asylum centres after six months in the country. However, only asylum seekers that promise to cooperate with their repatriation will be covered by the law change, which is a condition that has been criticised by asylum activists.
Denmark’s asylum population is currently growing due to a halt on forced repatriations to countries currently in conflict, such as Somalia and Syria.
As a result, the Immigration Service announced the need to open temporary centres across the country, such as in an empty apartment block in the Vollsmose suburb of Odense which will house 200 asylum seekers.
Vollsmose is known nationally for being a ‘ghetto’ with high unemployment and a large immigrant population.
While Peter Rahbæk Juel (Socialdemokraterne), an Odense City Councillor, told Fyens Stiftstidende that, it was “completely wrong to place an asylum centre here”, the city’s mayor, Anker Boye (Socialdemokraterne), thought the contrary.
“We should contribute to solving this problem,” Boye wrote in Politiken. “The solution should be co-ordinated with our other integration programs where possible.”