Danish News in Brief: Island for foreign ‘undesirables’ grabs international headlines
For many years the idea has remained in the realm of science fiction: sling all of society’s undesirables onto an island and let them sort it out. It was more or less the plot of ‘No Escape’, a really bad Ray Liotta film in 1994.
So it was no surprise to see Britain’s right-wing brigade – most notably the Telegraph, Sun and Daily Mail – jump on the story that Friday’s budget agreement includes plans for a deserted island to house convicted foreigners and rejected asylum-seekers.
“BANISHED! Denmark to send foreign criminals to live on a deserted island,” screamed the Sun headline – one of many to conveniently leave off the part about the rejected asylum-seekers.
The 17-acre island of Lindholm is situated in Stege Bay around 2.5 km off the coast of south Zealand near the island of Møn. It is currently being used by the DTU Veterinary Institute as a quarantined area to test against viruses that affect cattle and pigs.
Hits their enemies, rewards their friends
The island was among the measures needed to gain the support of Dansk Folkeparti for the budget, which includes a further tightening of immigration policy – most particularly switching the focus from integration to repatriation – and a boost for pensioners (DF’s core support) in the form of a higher allowance from next year.
According to Kristian Jensen, the finance minister, the island will not serve as a prison, as its new residents will be able to visit the mainland during the day.
“There will be a ferry service back and forth to the island,” he said. “But they must be there at night – so we have more control of where they are.”
The new system will replace one that required convicted foreigners and rejected asylum-seekers to regularly report to the Kærshovedgård centre near Herning in mid Jutland.
Number of children in poverty up 20 percent in just one year
The number of children living in poverty rose by 12,000 to 64,500 in 2017, according to an analysis of Danmarks Statistik data carried out by Arbejderbevægelsens Erhvervsråd. Its head, Lars Andersen, blames a ceiling introduced by the government on the ‘kontanthjælp’ basic unemployment benefit in 2016. Using criteria set out by the Sustainable Development Goals – the government abolished its own poverty guidelines in 2015 – families with a household income of less than half the country’s median are judged to be living below the poverty line. “It is very worrying that we now have as many poor children as there are residents in Denmark’s sixth largest city, Randers,” Andersen told Politiken.
Owners of drone company helped to catch Copenhagen-based IS middleman
It has been confirmed that a Dane detained in custody for the last 14 months is accused of acquiring and sending drone equipment to Islamic State. Toke Suhr and Frederik Skøt, the owners of a drone company in Copenhagen, dronebutikken.dk, helped the PET intelligence agency over the course of a year to gather evidence against the man, who is now 30 years old. PET reasoned the man would probably try to buy equipment off the shop and approached the owners in 2016 about a collaboration. It is suspected he is part of a network that is helping IS, and in September three more individuals involved in acquiring drone equipment for IS were arrested and charged.
Denmark’s radar unit to continue for another year
Denmark’s radar unit, which had been active at the Al Asad Air Base in Iraq and the Al Dhafra Air Base in the UAE since 2016, had been due to return home early next year, but now the government has confirmed the 30-odd personnel and equipment will stay put until January 2020. “The battle is not over, as the terrorist organisation still poses a threat in both Iraq and Syria,” explained the foreign minister, Anders Samuelsen. “Therefore, we want Denmark to continue to make a significant contribution to the international coalition’s struggle against IS – both military and civilian.”