Albanian asylum seekers increasing, France deeply concerned

Kate Ausburn

The number of Albanians seeking asylum in France has exceeded that of Germany, prompting fears of French authorities since last November, sources reported.

France urged Albania to halt the flow as the number of requests to France are almost twice as big as the number of requests by Albanians for asylum in Germany.

According to the Balkaninsight, the latest Eurostat data show that during 2017, France had the highest asylum request rate of Albanians in Europe. In January alone, 1,030 Albanians sought asylum in France, while in February the number was 880, in March 1,200 and in April 1,170.

From January to June 2017, around 500 Albanians requested asylum there per month – but most have been turned down.

Repeated repatriations of Albanians from Germany probably motivated Albanians to seek other destinations where they believe their chances are better, however, the chances of Albanians obtaining asylum in France are now very poor. This was underscored during a meeting on July 27 between Albanian Foreign Minister Ditmir Bushati and French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb.

The two ministers discussed a joint plan to curb the flow of asylum seekers to France within the next three months. One of the joint measures planned is to deploy French officers in Albania in order to conduct operations together with the Albanian border police.

"We are responsible for the freedom and responsibilities that come with free movement in [the] Schengen [area] and are obliged not to tolerate abusive requests for asylum," Bushati said.

31 Albanians were repatriated from France and Belgium to Tirana on June 26. Aida Hajnaj, the director of border and migration, said Albanians have to clear that the chances of winning asylum to France are almost zero.

During 2016 alone, around 50,000 Albanians sought asylum in Germany, most were trying to flee poverty and lack of work in their homeland.