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Sweden could turn back one in two failed asylum seekers

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Sweden could turn back one in two failed asylum seekers
Sweden took in more than 160,000 asylum seekers in 2015. Photo: Marcus Ericsson/TT
12:06 CEST+02:00
Around half of the record 163,000 people who sought asylum in Sweden last year are likely to have their applications rejected, the head of the migration agency has said.

Migration Agency boss Anders Danielsson made the comments on the first day of Sweden's famous Almedalen Week – an annual meet-up for policiticans, pundits and lobbyists on the island of Gotland.

Speaking about the more than 160,000 migrants and refugees who arrived last year and are still waiting to have their asylum applications processed, he suggested that around 80,000 are expected to be rejected.

"It will maybe be somewhere around 50 percent," Danielsson told the TT newswire, but added that it depended on a variety of factors, including the applicants' nationality and situation in their home country.

"We've approved around 70 percent and rejected 30 percent during the Syria crisis. Before that, the figures were reversed. It's different from country to country – 100 percent of Syrians and Eritreans get approved and from there it is a sliding scale for Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq and so on," he said.

His words confirm comments by Interior Minister Anders Ygeman, who grabbed international headlines in January when he said that Sweden would likely have to chart planes to deport the migrants, either back to their home country or to the EU state where their arrival was first registered by authorities.

READ ALSO: 'Sweden powerless to enforce deportation orders'

Around 15,000 people have so far applied for asylum in Sweden this year, a sharp downwards shift from last year, when the Nordic country struggled to accommodate an unprecedented 163,000 asylum seekers.

The drop followed the introduction of ID and border checks at the turn of the year, as well as Sweden's centre-left coalition government announcing it would tighten asylum laws. The new rules, which will come into effect on July 20th, include temporary three-year residence permits, rather than permanent permits, and limit the right to family member immigration for those who applied for asylum after November 24th.

THE LOCAL GUIDE: How Sweden's residency laws will affect YOU

Sweden's police border checks will be kept in place until at least November 11th, the interior ministry announced earlier this summer. And the Migration Agency boss, whose analysts are set to publish the agency's latest migration forecast in three weeks, said it was difficult to know what the future would bring.

"We're focusing completely on politics right now: domestic policy, EU policy and the policies of the various member states," said Danielsson.

"At the moment it looks like the current policies will remain in place, but nobody knows what it looks like in six months. What will happen to our border controls after November? What will the Germans do? What will the Austrians do? Will the agreement between the EU and Turkey hold and what happens if it does not?"

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