Aarhus is taking a stand against fear. The second-largest city in Denmark is one of the most diverse in Scandinavia. It’s population of around 300,000 includes almost 40,000 migrants from roughly 130 countries. It has been welcoming refugees for decades, and has won awards for its approach to integration.
That’s not to say there aren’t challenges. Unemployment rates among citizens of non-Western origin in Aarhus are still much higher than the average, and the city has experienced rising crime in the past (though crime in Denmark nationally is currently at historically low levels). Nevertheless, Aarhus’ approach to integration and counter-radicalisation has so far proved very effective.
In order to take a closer look at the local impact of the refugee crisis, we launched our ‘Cities & Refugees‘ project – aimed at fostering a Europe-wide dialogue between citizens, refugees and asylum seekers, NGOs, politicians, and European leaders. The emphasis will be on connecting local, everyday life at the city level to decisions made in Brussels and national capitals.
Since the start of the refugee crisis, Denmark has been experiencing record low levels of crime. Of crimes committed, 83% are committed by people of Danish origin and 14% by people of non-Western descent. Given that roughly 10% of Denmark’s population are of non-Western origin, those figures don’t seem to justify fears of greater criminality among ethnic or minority groups.
Meanwhile, the Danish government has been doing everything possible to discourage people from coming to Denmark. It has already some of the toughest immigration laws in Europe, and in 2016 it introduced more laws or policies specifically targeting migrants and refugees than any other country in Europe. These include laws allowing property to be seized from asylum seekers arriving in the country, and increasing the waiting period before families can be reunited from one to three years (a fact which was then advertised prominently in Lebanese newspapers).
Curious to know more about refugees and the law in Denmark? We’ve put together some facts and figures in the infographic below (click for a bigger version).
Why are Europeans so scared of refugees? Are people’s fears justified? What would help reassure people and allay their fears? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!