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Denmark reopens border to trains

September 10, 2015

Denmark has resumed rail traffic across the German border one day after police stopped trains carrying Sweden-bound refugees. Traffic across the border has continued to be highly controlled by authorities.

People board a train in Germany heading for Denmark. The refugees' intended destination is Sweden
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/C. Charisius

Denmark's train operator DSB announced on Thursday that it will resume rail traffic across the German border after police initially halted traffic on Wednesday. Following the announcement, a train bound for Denmark with 50 refugees on board left the north-German city of Flensburg, according to the German news agency dpa.

Rail services to Germany running through the border towns of Padborg and Flensburg are set to run normally on Thursday, said DSB in a statement. The ferry crossing at Rodby will remain closed to trains, however, "due to police work at the borders."

Ferry operator Scandlines confirmed that ferries - which usually carry both cars and trains - will remain open only to cars between Rodby and Puttgarden. Danish police have also meanwhile stated that they will allow refugees arriving from Germany to pass freely through Denmark without registering.

"We can't hold foreigners who don't want to seek asylum," said national police chief Jens Henrik Hojbjerg, who made the decision late on Wednesday. The decision seemed to challenge the current political strategy of the country, with Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen earlier insisting that arriving refugees be processed in Denmark in accordance with current EU rules.

Restricted passage

On Wednesday, the police stopped trains carrying 350 refugees who were attempting to seek asylum in Sweden in Rodby, a busy ferry crossing from Scadinavia to Germany. About 100 refugees who had originally refused to register in Denmark agreed to stay after extensive negotiations, while 240 were allowed to leave late on Wednesday without interference from the police.

Police in Padborg also closed part of a highway on Wednesday after about 300 people seeking refuge - including many women and children - starting walking to Sweden. After being stopped, many spent the night in a local community nearby.

Migrants walk on the E45 freeway at Padborg, while trying to head to Sweden
Danish police stopped hundreds of refugees attempting to walk to SwedenImage: Reuters/Scanpix/C. Fisker

Sweden's policy of granting permanent residency to Syrian asylum applicants has made it a top destination for refugees who have refused to register in Denmark or to remain in Germany. Denmark has been issuing tighter regulations to make the country less attractive to those seeking asylum. Measures included delaying family reunions, slashing benefits for newly arrived immigrants, and issuing only temporary residents permits.

Since Sunday, around 3,400 refugees have arrived in Denmark but only around 400 of them have sought asylum, according to Danish authorities.

rs/se (AP, AFP, dpa)