Sweden halves migration forecast figures for 2016

The Swedish Migration Agency has cut its predictions for how many asylum seekers they expect will come to Sweden this year.

Sweden halves migration forecast figures for 2016
Refugees and other travellers arriving in Gothenburg last year. Photo: Adam Ihse/TT

Migrationsverket said on Monday that it believes between 30,000 and 50,000 people will seek asylum in Sweden this year, sharply slashing previous predictions.

“There are above all two main reasons, the deal between the EU and Turkey and that the Balkan route is as good as shut,” its general director Anders Danielsson said in a statement.

In April migration officers estimated around 60,000 would make their way to the Nordic country in 2016, with 100,000 new arrivals set as the upper limit.

The new predictions come just days after Sweden tightened its asylum rules, after receiving a record 163,000 applications last year. So far this year it has taken in around 2,000 people a month. 

READ ALSO: Sweden's tough new residency rules explained

The amendments to the country’s asylum laws mean that migrants in Sweden are now granted only the minimum level of rights the European Union requires of its member states.

One of the biggest changes is the introduction of a new temporary residence permit for those offered protection in Sweden, instead of permanent permits, as the ruled had been previously.

Border controls, which are set to be in place until November this year, and ID checks on the Danish side of the Öresund bridge, are also credited with keeping the number of applications down.

The overall number of refugees crossing the Mediterranean to escape conflicts in the Middle East and Africa is decreasing, according to UN agency UNHCR. Around 10,189 travelled to Europe via the Mediterranean in June, compared to 78,433 in the same month last year.

The EU struck a controversial deal with Turkey earlier this year to send back all migrants arriving in Greece in order to curb the flow of asylum seekers. However some have voiced concern about the effect the recent coup attempt in the country may have on EU-Turkey relations.