‘Refugee-friendly’ Sweden launches border crackdown

Refugees arrive  in Malmo, at the Swedish end of the train journey from Denmark. Picture: AP
Refugees arrive in Malmo, at the Swedish end of the train journey from Denmark. Picture: AP
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Sweden has announced the introduction of temporary border checks to control the flow of migrants into the country.

It said it took the step because a surge in new arrivals had resulted in a threat to public order.

At a summit in Malta, EU Council President Donald Tusk said that saving the EU’s Schengen rules on free movement was a “race against time”.

Sweden’s interior minister says the move to introduce temporary border controls is a way to “bring order” to the Swedish asylum system while also sending a signal to the EU.

Anders Ygeman said on Wednesday that “Sweden is the country that has taken the greatest responsibility for the refugee crisis” and that “the other countries also have to take their responsibility.”

It wasn’t immediately clear whether the move would allow Sweden to turn people away at the border. But it would hinder people from transiting through the country to reach neighbouring Finland and Norway.

Ygeman said migrants arriving at the border would have to decide whether to apply for asylum in Sweden or to turn back around.

Most migrants are coming to Sweden by boat from Germany or across the Oresund bridge from Denmark.

Added to this, the EU has agreed to a £1.3 billion fund to help Africa tackle “the root causes of irregular migration”.

But some African leaders have already criticised the sum being offered as insufficient.

Some 150,000 people from African countries such as Eritrea, Nigeria and Somalia have crossed the Mediterranean from Africa this year.

but this has been dwarfed by the arrival of some 650,000 people - mostly Syrians - via Turkey and Greece.

Sweden said the controls it had introduced will last initially for 10 days.

Nearly 200,000 migrants are expected to arrive in Sweden this year, more per head of population than any other EU nation.

“This is not an issue for one or two or three countries - this is an issue for the whole European Union,” Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said at the Malta talks.

“We need another system - that is obvious.”