The Albanian border with Greece
The Albanian border with Greece

In recent days, 38 people have been arrested trying to cross into Albania. Authorities say more migrants are looking for alternative routes to get to Europe, as other countries close their borders.

Albanian police said on Tuesday that they had arrested 29 Syrians and nine Pakistanis attempting to enter the country from Southern Greece en route to Montenegro. Authorities say they have blocked 2,311 migrants at the Albanian border since the start of 2018, compared with around 1,000 during the whole of 2017.

New paths to Europe

Migrants are "trying to find new paths to get to European Union countries," Albanian interior ministry spokesman Ardi Bide told AFP. Turkey and Greece, formerly common routes to the EU, have increased border security so that many migrants are now diverting to the EU's poorest member states of Bulgaria and Albania.

"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 to get to Germany, Denmark or another country," 28-year-old Syrian Guwan Belei told AFP.  He lives in Albania's only migrant reception center in the capital Tirana, where 200 migrants are currently accommodated. Belei, along with other migrants, decided to go to Albania because Serbia and Macedonia have closed their borders.  

Albania signed a deal with the European Union earlier this year to bolster its border security. "Albania has taken all the measures to strengthen its border and cooperate with other Balkan countries and EU authorities, including Frontex, to better control the situation," Albanian deputy interior minister Rovena Voda told AFP.

Wider debate on migration and border security

On Monday, interior ministers from Balkan nations including Bosnia, Montenegro and Albania met to discuss migration. Montenegro voiced concerns over its porous border with Albania, while Albania dismissed rumors that a larger refugee camp funded by the EU would be built in the country. 

Officials from Germany, France and Austria are due to meet in Brussels in the coming week to discuss migration. Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said the summit will tackle questions such as "how we protect the (EU) external borders, how do we prevent waving migrants through to central Europe."

 

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