Albania, no longer the transit country of emigrants from the Western Balkans

-By Dr.Visar Malaj

The number of emigrants that have followed the so-called “Western Balkans route” has been declining every year, compared to the record number of arrivals in the European Union (EU) in 2015. The estimation based on the latest available data, published by Frontex (European Border and Coast Guard Agency), show that in 2018 the number of irregular emigrants on the itinerary were about 52% less than a year before, exactly 5.869.
The vast majority of these citizens were from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran; after 2015 the countries of the Western Balkans (WB) region have always produced less and less illegal emigration. In 2019, Frontex started its first operation outside the EU, in Albania, to support the control of borders and deal with cross-border crime.

Another interesting variable is the total number of asylum applications (for the first time) of WB citizens in EU countries: after 2015, calculations from Eurostat data show an average annual decline of about 46%. In 2019, the number of Albanian citizens seeking for asylum (for the first time) was 5.645, about 71% less than a year before.
These demands were mainly focused on economic and social issues.
Further stimulation of economic growth, the fight against corruption and, above all, the reduction of inequality would affect the continuous declining number of asylum applications and emigrants.

*The author is a lecturer at the Faculty of Economics at the University of Tirana