The Danish government says that more migrants left the country in 2019 than entered. But this is not a result of a softer immigration policy, the Danish Refugee Council says.
For the first time since 2011, the number of new arrivals in Denmark last year was smaller than those leaving the country.
The immigration minister Mattias Tesfaye called the figures 'wonderful'. "Whenever possible, it is only natural for refugees to travel back to their homeland," he said. "I am glad that we can give people protection while it is needed. But I'm also happy every time a refugee can return home."
Net immigration to Denmark has been falling since 2015. Last year a net 730 people left the country, which has an estimated population of 5.8 million.
The figures released by the immigration ministry showed that the main groups of people to leave Denmark last year were Somalis, Syrians, Iraqis and Bosnians. Most of those who arrived seeking protection were from Eritrea, Iran and Afghanistan.
Fewer have made it to Denmark
Eva Singer of the Danish Refugee Council said the drop should not be attributed to Danish immigration policy but to the fact that fewer people have been able to reach Denmark, in part because of Turkey closing its border to the European Union.
Denmark is regarded as having a relatively restrictive immigration policy, though the current Social Democratic minority government, which came to power in 2019, has taken a softer stance than the previous center-right government.
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In 2015 when over a million refugees and migrants entered Europe, thousands transited via Denmark to reach neighboring Sweden, which took in 163,000 migrants in 2015 alone, the largest number per capita of any European country.With Associated Press