Saturday, October 8, 2011

More Albanian asylum seekers

More Albanian asylum seekers
After the alarm given by the European Commission for the increased number of asylum seekers from Albania and other countries of the region, the public data of the Commissioner General for Refugees and Stateless Persons (CGRS) has confirmed this growth.

While in the first six months of 2011 there have been 25 applications per month in average, in the last months there has been a sudden increase of the number of applications by Albanian citizens.

In August there have been 50 applications, in September 84. If it continues with this pace, the free movement will be endangered, since the monitoring mechanism provides punishment measures for abuses.

The Commissioner Malmstrom has reminded the recent changes made to the visa regulation.

“On 24 May 2011, the Commission proposed a security clause that will allow, in extraordinary conditions, the temporary reestablishment of visas for the citizens of countries that benefit from the visa lift with the EU. This mechanism gives EU a means that can be used in extraordinary circumstances, for avoiding any serious negative consequence from the visa liberalization, especially the arrival of a great number of emigrants or asylum seekers, whose pretenses are unfounded”, declared the European Council office.

Since the day when this alarm was raised, and until the day of a possible return of the visa regime, there are a series of reports, analyzes and complicated procedures that would take several months.

The problem is the lack of means for stopping such a phenomenon, as it has happened with Serbia and Macedonia.

While the applications of these two countries show higher numbers than Albania, there is a decreasing tendency, while Albania’s is increasing since August.

This is reflected in the top 10 countries list for the number of asylum applications in Belgium, where Macedonia is not present any more, but it has been replaced by Albania, ranked after Kosovo, Serbia and Bosnia.

The practice of other regional countries for punishing the phenomenon, such as the blocking of passports, fines and other strict measures has not given any efficient result, since the number of asylum seekers from Serbia and Macedonia is still high, although the numbers are falling.

Most of them request asylum for economic reasons, a right that is not granted by the Geneva Convention.

According to CGRS public data, only 1% of the applications by people who come from Western Balkans benefit the right to asylum. The other 99% receives a negative answer and are repatriated according to the agreements.

The visa free regime is at risk of temporary suspension if the tendency will be increasing, as Malmstrom underlined in her letter of September 20th that was addressed to the regional Interior Ministers.

“It must be clear that if some of the Western Balkan countries will not fulfill their commitments and will not address quickly to the concerns of EU countries, the achievements with the visa liberalization could be at risk”, the EC office declared.

After the information asked by Top Channel, the Brussels Foreigners Office says that in the first week of October there have been 40 asylum requests by Albanian citizens.

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