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Denmark opts out of UN refugee resettlement programme

Refugees rest on a railway in Croatia's Tovarnik municipality as they wait for a train to go to Zagreb after crossing the border from Serbia's border town Sid after Hungarian authorities closed their border on September 17, 2015. [Mustafa Öztürk/Anadolu Agency]
Refugees rest on a railway in Croatia's Tovarnik municipality as they wait for a train to go to Zagreb after crossing the border from Serbia's border town Sid after Hungarian authorities closed their border on September 17, 2015. [Mustafa Öztürk/Anadolu Agency]

Denmark will no longer take in refugees under a UN resettlement programme after passing a law that enables the government to determine how many may enter the country instead of accepting a set quota, Reuters reported today.

Since 1989, Denmark has agreed to take 500 refugees a year selected by the United Nations under a programme to ease the burden on countries that neighbour war zones.

But after the European migration crisis in 2015 brought almost 20,000 claims for asylum, Denmark has refused to take any UN quota refugees and the centre-right government’s new law aims to cut total refugee numbers to no more than 500 a year.

Last year, more than 6,000 people claimed asylum in Denmark. Between January and November this year a little over 3,000 people did.

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The opposition Social-Liberal Party said opting out of the UN programme would increase pressure on countries already accommodating large numbers of refugees, and the move could encourage others countries to follow suit.

Under the new law, the immigration minister will decide how many refugees will be allowed, but the number can never surpass 500 each year unless there is an “exceptional situation”.

“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,” Immigration and Integration Minister Inger Stojberg said last month when her ministry proposed the law.

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