Denmark plans to build “Ukraine towns” by the country’s immigration and integration minister in the coming months to accommodate the large influx of refugees arriving from the war-torn country.
“We are preparing for Ukrainians to be accommodated in some form of Ukraine towns, where there could be child care and education for children in Ukraine. The Ukrainians themselves could participate,” Mattias Tesfaye said.
Tesfaye said the number of refugees in Denmark could eventually reach 100,000, five times higher than previously estimated, with potentially more than 40,000 by Easter, with the number of Syrians arriving in 2015 already doubling.
While plans are still in an early stage, Tesfaye said the sites could be located around unused facilities such as schools, hospitals, barracks or care homes, each of which can accommodate hundreds of refugees.
Martin Damm, president of Danish municipalities, said that with so many Ukrainians yet to come, the Danish welfare system couldn’t commonly absorb them all, hence the search for other solutions.
“It is not an optimal solution, but it is a possible solution,” he said, adding that when Syrian refugees arrived a few years ago, there were around 30,000 in two years. “If we are to have 100,000 in 12 weeks, it presents some other challenges,” he said.
Denmark has traditionally had a restrictive migration policy, and Tesfaye has previously stated his desire of having net zero asylum seekers coming into the country.
Earlier this week, Denmark’s government said that it was interested in a “fast-track” scheme that would speed up the pathway for Ukrainian refugees to join the local labour market.
Nearly 19,000 Ukrainians have applied for a Danish residence permit since the conflict in Ukraine began, with more than 2,600 having been granted.