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The bourgeois majority in Drammen will only accept refugees from Ukraine – Dagsavisen

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The bourgeois majority in Drammen will only accept refugees from Ukraine – Dagsavisen

The civil majority in Drammen municipality, Norway’s seventh largest, has decided that the municipality will only accept refugees from Ukraine, not from other countries and regions. The Conservative Party, the Progressive Party, the Christian People’s Party and the Pensioners’ Party ensured that the proposal passed in the municipal council with the narrowest possible margin: 29 to 28 votes.

We cannot carry out a degree assessment of which refugees are worthy and which are not

The decision has been met with strong opposition. Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre is clear: The proposal is illegal, he said on Wednesday. Støre also points out that it is a fundamental value that people on the run should be treated equally.

He is absolutely right about that. We cannot engage in a degree assessment of which refugees are worthy and which are not.

Others use far stronger words, such as racism and discrimination against people on the run. A local politician from the Center Party has reported Drammen municipality after the decision.

FRP’s Jon Helgheim defends the decision. He reasons that Ukrainians are easier to settle and integrate than refugees from other countries. In the past, he has pointed out that Drammen has a high proportion of non-Western immigrants, which in turn causes major integration problems. In the proposal that was adopted by the municipal council, it is stated that “we believe that war in nearby areas can be seen as a factual reason to prioritise” which groups a municipality wants to settle.

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There may be reason to listen to local elected officials when they point out that the municipality has challenges with integrating large groups from other countries. It is the municipalities that know their own reality best, and the decision can be seen as a cry that the limit of tolerance is approaching.

With that said: We obviously deeply disagree with the decision in Drammen. It is undignified to use Ukrainian refugees as a crowbar, as the bourgeois parties in Drammen are now doing.

It is the government that decides which refugee groups are to be settled in Norway, not each individual municipality. The municipalities can say yes or no to resettlement – but not themselves decide which nationalities they want to accept.

The decision will, according to all indications, be annulled. It is good. It is possible that Drammen’s politicians will invite an important debate about integration difficulties and tolerance. Next time they can do it without hiding behind Ukrainian refugees.

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