sweden police anti migrant protest.jpg
Photograph: EPA/JESSICA GOW

The number of people expected to seek asylum in Sweden this year was halved amid tighter border checks introduced by the European Union and individual European states, a Swedish government agency said on Monday.

The Swedish Migration Agency said it now expects 30,000-50,000 asylum seekers in 2016, down from its previous estimate in April of up to 100,000.

The agency added that it was planning for 34,500 asylum bids in 2016, including 3,000 unaccompanied minors, less than its previous plans for 60,000 bids.

The agency attributed the drop to a deal the EU reached earlier this year with Turkey, allowing for the return of asylum seekers that resulted in fewer arrivals to Greece.

Other factors cited by the agency included the virtual closure of the western Balkan route, as well as identification checks and border controls introduced by Sweden and several other EU states.

A new Swedish law, which went into effect last week and temporarily restricts the possibility of being granted a residence permit, was also expected to contribute to less arrivals, the agency said.

The agency said its 2017 projections were more uncertain but that the plan was for 51,000 bids, including 4,500 unaccompanied minors.

Last year, Sweden registered a record 163,000 asylum bids, straining resources and capacity at reception centres and local municipalities.

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