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

The projected number of people seeking asylum in Sweden this year was revised downwards on Wednesday due to the hurdles migrants face in trying to reach northern Europe.

The Swedish Migration Agency's now expects between 40,000 and 100,000 asylum seekers in 2016, down from its previous estimate in February of up to 140,000.

"What makes it difficult for asylum seekers to travel through Europe is mainly that the western Balkan route is completely closed, and the EU's new deal with Turkey," said Mikael Ribbenvik, deputy director of the Migration Agency.

Under the deal, new arrivals from Turkey to Greece can be returned to Turkey. For every Syrian refugee sent back in this way, EU member states will take in one Syrian living in Turkey.

The Swedish agency said its main planning scenario for 2016 was 60,000 asylum bids, including between 4,000 and 14,000 unaccompanied minors.

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

The Migration Agency said it had a backlog of bids to process with about 140,000 people waiting for a first decision. The average time to process an asylum application was expected to increase from nine months to 12 months.

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