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Denmark does not want to accept UN quota of refugees, minister says

Denmark's minority centre-right government does not want to accept any refugees this year who enter the country under a UN quota system, an official said Saturday.

The UN refugee agency has made deals with countries, including Denmark, to take in a number of refugees each year.

Since 1989, Denmark has accepted about 500 such refugees every year.

But now Denmark "doesn't want to commit ourselves," said integration minister Inger Stojberg, considered an immigration hardliner.

"I don't believe we have room for quota refugees this year."

Ms Stojberg said Denmark had received about 56,000 spontaneous asylum-seekers since 2012 and many of them are expected to try to bring relatives. She said that those already in Denmark should be integrated first.

The anti-immigration Danish People's Party, which backs the government, supports the law proposal.

Holger K. Nielsen, a senior member of the small opposition Socialist People's Party, said it was "totally wrong of Stojberg to close the door to quota refugees", adding she was letting down "the weakest refugees in the world".

No date for a vote in the 179-seat Parliament was set.

Denmark received about 20,000 asylum-seekers in 2015, a small number compared with its Swedish and German neighbours.

Last year Ms Stojberg said the reception of refugees through the UNHCR programme had been postponed, saying Danish authorities should have "a little breathing room to better take care of those who have already arrived".

In Turkey, authorities said 40 Syrian migrants were stopped Friday from illegally crossing to Greece. The migrants, among them 18 children, were stopped off the western province of Izmir.

In footage filmed from a coastguard boat, the group is seen in a rubber dinghy.

As the coastguard vessel approaches, one man lifts and then briefly lowers a small child toward the sea, while another man raises his arms in prayer. The coastguard then pulls in the dinghy and transfers the migrants to its boat.

Turkey and the European Union signed a deal last year to curb the illegal flow of migrants to Greece. Turkey is host to more than three million Syrians who have fled the ongoing civil war in their country.

AP

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