Press briefing 25 March 2022

Denmark faces a major task in receiving Ukrainian refugees

Published 25-03-2022

It has now been one month since Putin's war machine invaded Ukraine and its people. More than 10 million people are displaced from their homes. Most remain in Ukraine, but between 3 and 4 million Ukrainians now live elsewhere in Europe – mostly in Poland. At today's press conference, the focus was on the refugee situation, and that we in Denmark are facing a huge task of receiving Ukrainian refugees and helping them get started in Danish society.

Hosts: Minister for Social Affairs and Senior Citizens Astrid Krag, Minister for Immigration and Integration Mattias Tesfaye, Minister of Children and Education Pernille Rosenkrantz-Theil and Minister for Employment Peter Hummelgaard

Denmark is ready to help

We have sent over half a billion kroner in humanitarian aid to Ukraine and neighboring countries. And we have received thousands of Ukrainians in Denmark – primarily women, children and elderly people. The Danish “Ukrainian law” is now a week old. 12,000 adults have booked time with the authorities – not counting the children. As of Wednesday, 450 residence permits had been granted.

Big task for the municipalities

The adults can work, the children can go to school and something reminiscent of an everyday life can begin. This also means that we face a very big task in receiving our new citizens. We need to find place in the kindergarten, at the general practitioners and a place to live for thousands of people. These are quite ordinary everyday tasks for a municipality – but not to the extent we now have to deal with. Therefore, the tasks are also distributed around the country.

Listens to location requests

Of course, we must do everything we can to hear the Ukrainians' own wishes about where they want to live. If, for example, you have a family that you want to live close to, this will as far as possible be considered in the decision on location. And if you already have a job on hand, you should of course live close to the new job. And of course it’s also possible to move if you have found a job and thus can pay the rent yourself.

Already, several municipalities have announced that they can receive more displaced people than the distribution suggests. The municipalities may always receive more people if they can. Of course, money from the state will also follow. The extra financial expenses will be handled in the economic negotiations between the government and the municipalities, which are commencing right now.

Getting ready to receive more than 100,000 refugees

No one can predict exactly what we should prepare for in relation to the number of refugees. It depends in particular on the development of the war. We are preparing for more than 100,000 coming to Denmark. But none of us knows how many Ukrainians end up going here. If the war drags on, we may end up with even more people in need of our help – we do not know yet, but we need to prepare. This will be by far the largest number of displaced persons coming to Denmark since World War II. Without any comparison.

Many thousands of children to Denmark

Everything indicates that many thousands of children will come to Denmark to go to schools and day care institutions. We can’t manage that in the normal framework. These are children who do not know the Danish language and who need extra care and attention, and they can’t get it without it significantly affecting the teaching of the remaining students. With the figures we hear about now, we expect that we will have to create classes for newcomers everywhere in Denmark. Of course, we strive for the highest standard for the newcomers’ classes, but we are especially challenged by a shortage of qualified teachers. We need to think creatively, and we encourage retired teachers and student teachers to help as much as you can.

Day care institutions

In the day care area, we are even more challenged. There is simply not enough room to put thousands of Ukrainian children into day care in a safe way. We will therefore initiate a dialogue with the National Association of Local Authorities to create a completely new receiving opportunity for the Ukrainian children. In the day care area we are challenged on skilled labor too. Again a call for retired educators and pedagogy students to help. You can make a huge difference.

We must take care of the particularly vulnerable

We are in a completely extraordinary situation. Thousands of Ukrainians have already fled the horrors of the war to Denmark, and more will join. Among them are also people who are particularly vulnerable. It may be elderly people who need care. People with disabilities who need support. Children who have seen things, that no child should see, and who need help to find peace and security. These are people who depend on the help of the community in their everyday lives, and of course we need to have this kind of assistance ready in Denmark.

Close collaboration with KL and the organizations

The municipalities and humanitarian organizations are already doing a lot to help the displaced Ukrainians well in place in Denmark. Right now we hear, that it is primarily resourceful Ukrainians who have come here so far. But more people are coming to the country every day. And we must be prepared for the fact that there may be even more vulnerable people and people who need special care and support from our community. What they will need, we do not know. And we do not know how many will need special help.

Follows the situation closely

Therefore we have started a collaboration with the National Association of Local Authorities, so that we can follow the situation closely – and continuously keep an overview of who comes here and what their needs are. We are also in ongoing dialogue with the humanitarian organizations, which are massively present with help for the arriving Ukrainians around the country. We have set up a central hotline so that we can support the municipalities, the authorities and the organizations in the best possible way if they have questions or experience challenges in the social and elderly area. The hotline may be contacted at the email address [email protected], where employees are ready to respond.

Together we must get as many people as possible jobs

We face a big and difficult task which is growing every day. Together, we must help get as many people as possible into employment and in this way give them a more stable framework in everyday life. It's going to require something from all of us. This applies from the municipality to employers and employees.

The Ukrainians who come here are a very complex group. Some will get started right away. Others will need time and help. Fortunately, very many Ukrainians want to work and contribute. And we are in the fortunate situation that a lot of companies need more hands. Many have already volunteered and are ready to hire Ukrainians.

Difficult task

But even if Ukrainians and companies have the best intentions, it will not be an easy and unproblematic task. In government, we will do what we can so that Ukrainians and businesses can easily meet each other. We have initially made information material in Ukrainian about the Danish labor market. Which today is physically sent out to the centers where Ukrainians can apply for a residence permit.
We will also soon launch a new website, where we gather the most important information for both Ukrainians, Danish companies and the many private Danes who assist the Ukrainians.

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