Sweden’s government may reject almost half the people who sought asylum within its borders last year as the government looks into the feasibility of sending them back.
As many as 80,000 of the 163,000 asylum seekers who entered Sweden in 2015 could be turned away, Home Affairs Minister Anders Ygeman told newspaper Dagens Industri. The development poses a “big challenge” to Swedish authorities, he said.
Sweden, together with Germany, made headlines at the beginning of the refugee crisis created by the war in Syria by opening its borders to hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers in a policy that stood out in Europe for its generosity. Since then, Sweden has been forced to backtrack after the cost of absorbing so many people threatened budget goals and overwhelmed the country’s resources.
The government of Prime Minister Stefan Loefven, who has seen his popularity among voters decline, has blamed neighboring Denmark and others for failing to share the burden given the scale of the humanitarian crisis facing Europe. Sweden this year introduced controls at the Danish border to cope with the influx.
About 55 percent of the refugees who arrived in Sweden have had their applications approved, Dagens Industri said. The government is planning to hire charter planes to send back those asylum seekers whose applications were rejected, it said.