STOCKHOLM -- Interior Minister Anders Ygeman says Sweden could deport between 60,000 and 80,000 asylum-seekers in coming years.
Ygeman told newspaper Dagens Industri that since about 45 percent of asylum applications are currently rejected, the country must get ready to send back tens of thousands of the 163,000 who sought shelter in Sweden last year.
"I think that it could be about 60,000 people, but it could also be up to 80,000," Ygeman was quoted as saying.
His spokesman, Victor Harju, confirmed the quotes Thursday, adding that the minister was simply applying the current approval rate to the record number of asylum-seekers that arrived in 2015. Harju adds: "That rate could of course change."
Germany and Sweden were the top destinations for asylum-seekers in Europe last year.
Meanwhile, Greece's coast guard has raised the death toll from a migrant boat sinking Thursday to 25, after recovering seven more bodies from the sea off the northern coast of Samos, an island near the Turkish coast.
The coast guard said the bodies of five girls, five boys, 10 men and five women have been recovered, while 10 people had been rescued.
Romanian border police said Thursday that they had rescued 119 asylum-seekers from Africa - including 34 children - who were on an inflatable dingy in the Mediterranean, trying to reach Europe.
The migrants were dehydrated and had signs of hypothermia when they were picked up on Tuesday. They came from Gambia, Senegal, Liberia, Mali, Sierre Leona and Guinea Bissau and were planning to travel to the Schengen area.
A Dutch politician says his country, which currently holds the EU presidency, is working on a plan to ease the migrant crisis by which a core group of member states would accept up to 250,000 refugees coming from Turkey in return for sending back the migrants that now arrive by the hundreds of thousands in Greece.
Diederik Samson - leader of the Socialist PvdA party, a key partner in the government - told De Volkskrant newpaper that a core group of nations should be willing to accept a set number of refugees coming from Turkey, if the other migrants can be sent back.