Sweden prepares to deport 80,000 asylum seekers in policy reversal

Minister says those who do not leave voluntarily will be forcibly deported.

Sweden’s migration agency has been put on alert to deport up to 80,000 asylum seekers this year, a month after Stockholm reversed its open-door policy and introduced ID checks on its borders.

Parallel to the deportation plan, equivalent to half the number of new asylum applications filed last year, Sweden will double the number of border police and carry out more checks within the country.

Swedish officials dismissed claims the country was getting tough on migrants, insisting deportations would rise in line with the surge in asylum applications last year to 163,000. That is the highest per capita rate in Europe, while asylum applications rejections in Sweden runs at about 45 per cent.

“We have a big challenge before us,” said Anders Ygeman, the Social Democrat home affairs minister, to Swedish radio. “The first step will be to go with voluntary return, and to create the best conditions for that, but if that doesn’t work, we will need returns backed up by force.”

Sweden has a population of almost 10 million and has found itself at the heart of Europe’s migrant crisis, as millions fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East and north Africa have moved north to wealthier European Union member states.

Swedish officials said yesterday that they are ready to charter planes with Germany as the most cost-effective way to implement the deportation plan.


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