Denmark helps Greenland solving social problems | Polarjournal
The Danish support is intended to improve the social system. Special attention should be paid to the children. (Photo: Heiner Kubny)

The recognition that Greenland cannot solve the massive social challenges alone is important for Greenland and Greenlandic society. This is the opinion of the Minister for Social Affairs, Martha Abelsen. She also recognises that Greenland may have made mistakes in dealing with social problems.

Denmark’s Social Affairs Minister Astrid Krag (left) and Greenland’s Social Affairs Minister Martha Abelsen (right) at the press conference on 21 August 2020. (Photo: Government of Greenland)

ʺI believe that it is right for our country that we have asked Denmark for help with Greenland’s social problems. I used to have concerns about asking for help, but now I can see that it istʺ the right thing, says Martha Abelsen during a press conference on August 21, 2020.

This is caused by alcoholism, a drug problem and violence against the weaker, as well as children.

ʺAt the moment, we need outside help, and I am happy to take the outstretched hand. However, I must stress that it is important to remember that at some point in the future we will have to take care of social matters ourselves, without outside help. We have to prepare for thatʺ, she added.

ʺI’ve heard the most heartbreaking childhood stories of neglect, which we simply can’t turn a blind eye to. We owe it to the vulnerable children of Greenland to bring about real change. I am therefore pleased that we are now taking a large number of initiatives that will help both now and in the long term. And even if we can’t solve all the problems at once, it will help more people to a safer childhood. Danish Social Affairs Minister Astrid Krag.

The Danish Parliament has allocated 80 million Danish kroner (EUR 10.8 million) to support the implementation of the recommendations.

The Greenlandic model

Danish Social Affairs Minister Astrid Krag points out during the press conference that Danish aid to Greenland does not mean that Denmark is copying its best practice examples to Greenland. Greenlandic solutions are needed for Greenlandic challenges, she stresses.

ʺWe do not intend to transfer measures that work in Denmark to Greenland, as we have the experience that this does not necessarily work here. Of course, we must take Greenlandic society as a starting point if we have to find solutions. We work closely together to find solutions”, says Astrid Krag, using Tasiilaq as an example.

Tasiilaq is a town in Sermersooq, Greenland. Tasiilaq. It is the largest city in Eastern Greenland with a population of around 2,000. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Since last year, a working group of psychologists and clerks has been in Tasiilaq to deal with cases involving children and adolescents in the community system, while treating them as victims of sexual abuse. At the same time, the district administration of the greater municipality of Sermersooq has sent more employees to Tasiilaq, so that both Denmark and Greenland work closely together to solve the problems.

Astrid Krag stresses that it is Greenland that must decide how Danish funding should be used. Denmark will continue to follow the action from the sidelines.

ʺIt makes several recommendations in this area. But we can say that things have changed. We can feel that there is a will in society to change the conditions. We have acknowledged that there is a problem, but we do not accept sexual abuseʺ, said Martha Abelsen.

Heiner Kubny, Polarjournal

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