Sweden to temporarily reinstate border controls over migrant influx

Migrant passengers get directions from a policeman after arriving by train in Stockholm.
Migrant passengers get directions from a policeman after arriving by train in Stockholm.REUTERS

STOCKHOLM (AFP) - The Swedish government on Wednesday said it would temporarily reinstate border checks to deal with an unprecedented influx of migrants, making it the latest country in Europe's passport-free Schengen zone to tighten its borders over the crisis.

"A record number of refugees are arriving in Sweden. The migration office is under strong pressure... and the police believe there is a threat against public order," Interior Minister Anders Ygeman said.

"So we will re-establish controls at our national borders tomorrow (Thursday) from 12pm (7pm Singapore time)" for a 10-day period, he added.

The communications director of Sweden's migration office, Mikael Hvinlund, said 80,000 migrants had arrived in September, almost as many as in the whole of 2014.

Sweden has taken more refugees as a proportion of its population than any other country in Europe as the continent struggles with its worst migration crisis since World War II.

It expects to receive up to 190,000 in total in 2015 - the equivalent of 1.5 million people arriving in a country the size of Germany.

"People are forced to sleep in tents, in offices and in evacuation centres" normally used for natural disasters, Hvinlund said.

"We are not fulfilling our mission, which is to offer a roof to everyone... Re-establishing border controls can help us," he said.

The government has also asked companies running ferries between Germany and Sweden to require passengers to show their identity papers, though the authorities have no way of forcing them to comply.

"Welcoming refugees must be done with order and care," Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said in Malta, where he is taking part in a meeting between European and African leaders on the migrant crisis.

Struggling with the influx of migrants, Sweden last week appealed to the EU to help relocate some of the asylum seekers it has taken in.

Germany brought back border controls in September, in what amounted to a de-facto suspension of its Schengen membership.

Austria has also said it will take border measures to help control the influx.