Sweden plans to remove tens of thousands of asylum seekers from the country, according to the interior minister. This measure would only apply to people whose applications had been rejected.
The government has asked the police and migration officials to organize the expulsion, Interior Minister Anders Ygeman said on Wednesday.
"We are talking about 60,000 people but the number could climb to 80,000," the minister was quoted in the "Dagens Industri" newspaper as saying.
Ygeman added that only migrants who arrived last year, applied for asylum and were denied, would be sent home.
Sweden received some 160,000 migrants in 2015, and has taken in more refugees per capita than any other EU country. The government estimates that around 45 percent of all asylum requests were rejected.
Risk of refugees going underground
The government intends to create good conditions for the migrants to volunteer for deportation, according to Ygeman's comments.
"The initial action is to get to a voluntary return and create the conditions for it. But we can not stay there, we need a return by means of coercion," he said.
Police organize the line of refugees on the stairway leading up from the trains arriving in Malmo from Denmark
Also, the authorities would need to use specially chartered aircrafts due to large numbers of asylum seekers, said Ygeman.
The move is a "great challenge" for the Scandinavian country, and there is a "significant risk" that many migrant groups would go underground to avoid deportation, according to the government.
To counter this development, the police are boosting their border control department and increasing the number of checks.
The flow of refugees to Europe continues despite cold weather. The UN says more than 46,000 people have arrived in Greece since the beginning of January, with more than 170 refugees dying during the dangerous sea voyage.
dj/jr (AFP, dpa)