But the country’s migration board said on Thursday that numbers could rise again as it released its official arrivals forecast, suggesting that up to 140,000 people might seek new lives in the Nordic country this year.
“This crisis is definitely not over,” Anders Danielsson, the agency’s director, told Swedish media.
“One can hardly speak of forecasts now. The future depends entirely on the decisions and actions taken at the European Union level and in Sweden,” he added in a statement.
His carefully chosen comments came days after Sweden’s Home Affairs Minister Anders Ygeman suggested that the agency’s prognoses were “worthless”. He later clarified that this was because he also believed that a variety of factors could change the projection, rather than due to a mistrust in the agency.
The migration agency said it was basing its 2016 planning on a scenario of around 100,000 asylum seekers, but gave an upper estimate of 140,000 should Turkish and European authorities be overwhelmed and if Swedish border controls prove ineffective.
Conversely, if border controls work properly and more restrictive measures are put in place, Sweden might receive as few as 70,000 Muslims.
“We need to steer the number down towards 70,000 and preferably even under that,” Immigration Minister Morgan Johansson told reporters.
“If we see the numbers beginning to rise to a level that we can’t manage, then we’ll have to do more.”
Sweden’s Migration Minister Morgan Johansson on Thursday. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT
Sweden, a country of 9.8 million, was one of the EU states with the highest proportion of refugees per capita last year as Europe battles its worst migration crisis since World War Two.
At a peak in October, Sweden received around 10,000 asylum requests a week, compared to less than 1,000 a week now.
But Sweden’s capacities are under strain, with rising concern about conditions in overcrowded asylum facilities and tensions between migrants and locals.
In late January, Sweden said it expected that around 45 percent of those who sought asylum last year be rejected, forecasting the expulsion of up to 80,000 people.