Sweden intends to expel as many as 80,000 refugees and migrants who arrived in 2015 and whose applications for asylum have been rejected.
“We are talking about 60,000 people, but the number could climb to 80,000,” Interior Minister Anders Ygeman was quoted as saying by Swedish media.
He added on Wednesday that the government has asked police and authorities in charge of refugees to organize their expulsion.
Sweden, which is home to 9.8 million people, is one of the European Union countries that has taken in the largest number of refugees in relation to its population. Sweden accepted more than 160,000 asylum seekers last year.
But the number of refugee arrivals has dropped dramatically since Sweden enacted systematic photo ID checks on travelers on January 4.
The mass expulsion was announced as Europe struggles to deal with a crisis that has seen tens of thousands of refugees arrive on Greek beaches with the passengers mostly fleeing conflict in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan or undeterred by cold, wintry conditions and deadly seas.
The UN says more than 46,000 people have arrived in Greece so far this year with more than 170 people killed making the dangerous crossing.
“The expulsions normally carried out using commercial flights using specially chartered aircraft”, says Ygeman.
Swedish officials on Tuesday called for greater security at overcrowded asylum centers, a day after the fatal stabbing of an employee at a facility for unaccompanied youths.
The death led to questions about overcrowded conditions inside some centers with too few adults and employees to take care of children, many traumatized by war.
In neighboring Denmark, meanwhile the government this week approved legislation to seize the valuables of refugees to help pay for resettlement costs.
Neo Monitoring Desk