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Friday, February 23, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Sweden Closes Borders as Refugees Move North

(CN) - The European Commission said Friday that Sweden will raise border controls at selected harbors and the bridge connecting it to Denmark, in the wake of the "unexpected" flow of refugees into the Nordic nation.

Sweden's move underscores the ongoing pressures faced by the European Union, which has seen an unprecedented rise in the number of refugees fleeing the Syrian civil war, the Islamic State and Africa this year.

In September, Austria joined Germany, Hungary and Slovenia in instituting temporary border controls under the "exceptional possibility" clause of the Schengen Borders Code, part of the 1995 Schengen Agreement that broke down borders across much of the European Union.

Slovenia and Hungary reopened their borders in late October, the commission said.

Citing "a serious threat to internal order and public policy," Swedish authorities said they would raise border controls at selected harbors in the south and west and at the Oresund Bridge connecting Sweden and Denmark.

The commission said the move appeared to be in line with the Schengen Borders Code, and that it would continue to monitor the situation.

"The situation serves to further underscore the pressing need to quickly implement the measures proposed by the European Commission in order to manage the refugee crisis," the administrative arm of the EU said in a statement.

In other refugee news, commission president Jean-Claude Juncker slammed the pace of refugee relocation from hotspots in Greece and Italy and criticized the 28 member states for not stepping up to take in their fair share of refugees. He noted that so far only 130 people had been relocated

"At this rate it will take until 2101 to relocate 160,000 people," Juncker said. "I am not at all satisfied with the pace of relocations at the moment."

So far this year, nearly 500,000 refugees have arrived on Europe's shores by way of the Mediterranean Sea alone.

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