Migrants try to find new path through Albania to EU


The waves of migrants crossing to Europe through the Balkans have not stopped, but these seem to be changing route slightly. With the western Balkan migrant trail now shut, the number of Syrian migrants arriving in Albania is on the rise.

Migrants are "trying to find new paths to get to European Union countries" after nations along the route up from Turkey and Greece significantly increased their border security, Albanian interior ministry spokesman Ardi Bide was quoted by sources.

Instead of going through Macedonia and Serbia, people attempt to reach the EU via some of the poorest member states including Bulgaria and Albania. Although authorities have not released official data on asylum requests, police said they have blocked 2,300 people at the Albanian border since the start of the year.

According to the report issued by AFP, 28-year-old Syrian refugee Guwan Belei said that for many, "Albania is now the only solution for refugees to move on.” Belie arrived in mid-June in Albania's only migrant reception centre, located in the capital Tirana.

"Many prefer to seek political asylum in Albania because during the proceedings it leaves them time to find solutions to move to Montenegro and Bosnia, and from there get to Germany, Denmark or another country," the 28-year-old told the news agency.

At Tirana's camp, newly-arrived migrants wait in front of the small brick building while others are stepping out with backpacks, possibly hoping to try to cross the border into Montenegro, 100km further north.

The route through Turkey, Greece, Albania, Montenegro and Bosnia before reaching EU member Croatia is rather treacherous, steep and mountainous.

Balkans interior ministers met in Brussels over the issue Monday. Bosnia, the last country on this new route via Albania before the EU, is particularly confronted with an increasing influx. Montenegro has also voiced concerns over its porous border with Albania. Migrants seem to be stuck in the middle after the EU closure of borders in face of the refugees, with Europe suggesting to help build camps in the Balkan countries to keep migrants from flowing into their lands.