“Everything we do out here has one purpose: to save our public school from closing. The schools are crucial to the survival of smaller cities. If they close, people move away, and our businesses go bankrupt. We can solve this issue if we receive these new citizens.” Says Leif Carøe
This statement is confirmed by Birger Mortensen, Chief Consultant in the Integration Department at Local Government Denmark - the national advocacy organisation of Danish municipalities.
“Studies show that the population decrease we have seen so far in the smaller, Danish communities is moving in another direction with the receiving of refugees. This increase of citizens in villages saves local institutions for example schools, groceries or carpenters from closing. Furthermore, the arriving of refugees ensures a more balanced age composition in the area,” he says.
The youngest of the newly arrived refugees in Vemb is 16 years old, and the oldest, 40 years old. The Vemb-villagers hope that family reunifications will result in the arrival of smaller children as well.
Rural areas request refugees
In Denmark, it is the Danish Immigration Service that every year divides the refugees between the municipalities. According to themselves, they do take the municipalities’ individual wishes into consideration when doing this. And so the rural areas have begun to voice their requests.
“I have for sure seen examples on municipalities outside the urban areas who announce that they wish to receive refugees,” Birger Mortensen from Local Government Denmark says.
Out of the approximately 1.2 million refugees arriving in Europe in 2015, the Municipality of Holstebro received 170 of these and 16 were placed in Vemb. Afterwards, a handful more moved to the city and by the 1st of June this year the citizens of Vemb have welcomed 25 new neighbours in total.