Denmark extends ID checks at German border

Copenhagen (AFP) –


Denmark on Tuesday extended random identification checks on its border with Germany until February 23 to curb the tide of migrants into the country and "guarantee public order," the immigration ministry said.

The controls were introduced on January 4, hours after Swedish legislation went into force requiring rail and ferry companies transporting people from Copenhagen across the Oresund Strait between the two countries to verify their identities.

"As long as the Swedish ID controls remain in place, we fear that Denmark will be a final stop for all those who want to reach neighbouring Scandinavian countries," Immigration Minister Inger Stojberg said in a statement.

Copenhagen "has to react to the extraordinary situation that Europe is facing" and the government "is doing what it deems necessary to guarantee public order and safety in Denmark," Stojberg said.

To date, six members of the 26-member passport-free Schengen zone have introduced temporary controls at their borders.

Germany, which is a transit country for many migrants heading to northern Europe, did so in mid-September.

Despite wintry conditions and the restrictions imposed by some European countries since the start of the year, "pressure on the European Union's external borders ... remains strong," Stojberg said.

A total of 67,072 migrants have arrived in Europe by way of the Mediterranean so far this year, including 61,746 who landed in Greece and 5,326 in Italy, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

The Scandinavian country received more than 21,000 asylum applications in 2015, a 44 percent jump from 2014 though significantly fewer than its neighbours, Germany and Sweden.

The Danish government has since last autumn repeatedly tried to deter migrants from coming to the country.

Last month, lawmakers passed a controversial bill allowing authorities to seize valuables from refugees and delaying family reunifications, sparking an international outcry.