Cities urge for ‘fairness’ in Denmark’s refugee distribution

As the nation’s largest and richest municipality, Copenhagen should help lift the burden of hosting refugees in Denmark this year, say frustrated councillors

The Danish municipalities of Aarhus and Odense are having “difficulty understanding” why they should accept and integrate hundreds of refugees this year when Copenhagen will not be receiving a single one, reports Berlingske.  

According to the  Immigration Service, Aarhus will accept 516 refugees in 2015 – an increase of 231 percent on 2014 – while Odense is set to accept 335, a threefold increase compared to last year. Many of the immigrants are from Syria. 

Too many problems already
According to Lars Aslan Rasmussen (Socialdemokraterne), Copenhagen is already home to a wide range of social challenges and integration issues, and it is therefore not in a position to accept refugees.

“Copenhagen has a vast homeless population in comparison to other Danish cities, as well as significantly higher figures in the areas of mental illness or addiction,” Rasmussen told Berlingske.

“If we are told by the government that we must take in refugees, then of course, we will do it. But we uphold our view that it is unfair as Copenhagen faces many existing challenges.”

Aarhus calls for assistance
Thomas Medom (​Socialistisk Folkeparti), the councillor responsible for social affairs and employment in Aarhus, recognises Copenhagen’s “special integration challenges”, but urges the capital to acknowledge that Aarhus is not without its own issues.

“Aarhus is home to Denmark’s poorest residential area, Gellerup, in which many of the country’s most vulnerable citizens reside," he told Berlingske.

"Countless are unemployed or living on an extremely low income. Copenhagen may have lower employment rates; however, there are a number of well-integrated refugees within the city. It is only fair that they accept just as many, if not more, refugees.”

Odense also calls foul
Similarly, Steen Møller (Konservative), the councillor for social management at Odense Municipality, believes the capital should take a fair share.

"We are happy to accept our share in this role, but we want to feel sure there is some fairness and reason in the way refugees are distributed around the country,” he told Berlingske.