Up to 190,000 asylum seekers are expected to arrive in Sweden this year, more than twice as many as previously predicted by the Sweden’s Migration Agency. The new figures, released today, also reveal that the agency expects 40,000 of this number to be unaccompanied children traveling alone.
The agency predicts that another wave of asylum seekers—between 100,000 and 170,000—will arrive in 2016, and that as many as 33,000 of these could be unaccompanied children.
In July, the agency estimated that 74,000 asylum claims would be made for the whole of 2015, but has now more than doubled this number. In a statement accompanying the new figures, the agency’s head, Anders Danielsson said, “More people than ever are seeking asylum in Europe and Sweden and the situation right now is unprecedented.”
A statement from the agency warns that “the sharp increase in asylum seekers coming to Sweden means the Migration Agency’s current capacity is no longer sufficient to provide an orderly reception of new asylum seekers.” The agency believes that it will be short of between 25,000 and 45,000 accommodation places by the end of this year.
The high numbers of new arrivals are expected to come with a hefty price tag, costing Sweden 60.2 billion kronor ($7.23 billion) in the coming year and 73 billion kroner ($72 billion) in 2017.
According to Mikael Ribbenvik, deputy director general of the agency, the authority is now looking into unconventional solutions to house the new arrivals, such as tents, churches and military barracks, as well as “rearranging the country’s prison system” and looking into the option of housing asylum seekers in old bomb shelters. “We are already in a state of emergency when it comes to accommodation,” Ribbenvik says. “We have about 1,500 seeking asylum every day. We need to find well over 1,000 new places each day.
“We will cope, but we’re not coping in the way we used to,” he continues. “It will be in a completely different manner, there will be very long waiting times since we don’t have the capacity to try all the cases with the speed we want, and there will be unusual accommodation solutions.”
He adds that the new developments have put completely new demands on EU cooperation and Sweden’s ability to receive those who are seeking refuge in the country.
Swedish Justice and Migration Minister Morgan Johansson, also responded to the new figures, telling reporters this morning, “So far we have managed to give these people roofs over their heads but it is easy to look at this and draw the conclusion that it is not sustainable for Sweden if it continues,” according to The Local Sweden.
Sweden has received more applications for asylum per capita than any other country in Europe since 2014, according to Eurostat figures, with 8,365 applications per million people living there. In comparison, Germany received 2,513 per million. After Germany, France and Italy, Sweden ranks as the country with the most total first instance decisions in the second quarter of 2015, with 10,100 approved applications.