Stockholm: Interior Minister Anders Ygeman says Sweden could deport between 60,000 and 80,000 asylum-seekers in coming years.
Ygeman told newspaper Dagens Industri that since about 45 percent of asylum applications are currently rejected, the country must get ready to send back tens of thousands of the 163,000 who sought shelter in Sweden last year.
"I think that it could be about 60,000 people, but it could also be up to 80,000," Ygeman was quoted as saying.
His spokesman, Victor Harju, confirmed the quotes on Thursday, adding that the minister was simply applying the current approval rate to the record number of asylum-seekers that arrived in 2015. Harju adds: "That rate could of course change."
Germany and Sweden were the top destinations for asylum-seekers in Europe last year
In the sea near a Greek island, the coast guard at least 11 people, most of them children, died on Thursday in the latest migrant boat sinking.
Ten people were rescued, while the bodies of four boys, three girls, three men and one woman were recovered.
Romanian border police said on Thursday that they had rescued 119 asylum-seekers from Africa — including 34 children — who were on an inflatable dingy in the Mediterranean, trying to reach Europe.
The migrants were dehydrated and had signs of hypothermia when they were picked up on Tuesday. They came from Gambia, Senegal, Liberia, Mali, Sierra Leona and Guinea Bissau and were planning to travel to the Schengen area.
A Dutch politician says his country, which currently holds the EU presidency, is working on a plan to ease the migrant crisis by which a core group of member states would accept up to 250,000 refugees coming from Turkey in return for sending back the migrants that now arrive by the hundreds of thousands in Greece.
Diederik Samson — leader of the Socialist PvdA party, a key partner in the government — told De Volkskrant newspaper that a core group of nations should be willing to accept a set number of refugees coming from Turkey, if the other migrants can be sent back.