DFAT issues travel advisories as Europe tightens border controls
Friday 08 January 2016
As border security in northern Europe tightens against a flow of migrants and asylum seekers, DFAT has urged Aussie travellers to carry their passports with them.
While Denmark and Sweden have long been members of Europe’s Schengen passport-free travel area, they are the most recent to begin imposing heightened border control, according to eGlobal Travel Media. As a large number of asylum seekers head for European countries like Germany, Sweden and Britain, local governments are worried about the effect the influx might have on internal security and stability.
Recent reports from German police reveal tensions between locals and asylum seeker populations, with around 100 women reporting cases of robbery, threats and sexual assault at Cologne’s New Year celebrations, mainly by men of Arab or North African descent.
Steffan Bilger, a German politician belonging to Angela Merkel’s party, called for change over twitter, saying, “Urgently needed: reduction of influx, secure borders, intensifying of deportations and meaningful justice. #Cologne.”
Many European politicians are predicting that these recent tensions will spell the end for the Schengen agreement and passport-free travel in Europe.
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Around 60% of asylum seekers have no papers, and European security measures are causing a run on effect. While Sweden has begun ID checks on travellers entering the country via train from Denmark, Denmark itself has focused controls on it’s border with Germany. The BBC reported that Inger Stojberg, Denmark’s Integration Minister, was concerned that Sweden’s measures would leave Denmark “faced with a serious risk to public order and internal security because a very large number of illegal immigrants may be stranded in the Copenhagen area.”
While a number of European countries, including Sweden and Denmark, have raised their terrorist threat levels to ‘high’ or ‘significant’, DFAT is still advising Aussies to take normal safety precautions for travel to most of Northern Europe. They are, however, sending out advisories that Aussie travellers should carry their passports with them, even within the Schengen area.
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