Albania asks for international help to deal with migrants from Greece
The Albanian authorities reported the detention of more than 2,000 migrants in the first five months of the year.
Interior Ministry spokesman Ardian Bita said Albania is “doing its utmost to fight organised crime” and has detained “a considerable number” of smugglers this year.
Migrants hoping to leave Greece can stow away on a ferry or pay for a smuggling boat to Italy, buy fake papers in the hope of flying out or walk across the border with Bulgaria, North Macedonia or Albania.
Bulgaria is seen as too dangerous and the North Macedonian border is increasingly well guarded. Now large numbers of migrants are trying to enter Albania, despite increasing patrols by the European Union’s Frontex border agency.
An abandoned military outpost on Greek territory a few hundred metres from the border and about 30 minutes walk from the Greek village of Ieropigi regularly houses migrants hoping to cross into Albania.
Syrian Mohammad Nour Mahmood Al Damad was turned back six times by Frontex. He was refused asylum in Greece and says he would be happy to settle in Albania or Kosovo.
Mohammad said he was shot in the leg in Syria and he cannot walk properly.
Shaikh Musa Abdallah from Sudan also tried six times to cross the border into Albania with his wife and five children, who are aged between five and 15 but Frontex turned them back.
“For others it is very easy to cross but for families it is very difficult,” he told AP.
Abdallah said he has spent three years in Greece and will not try to cross the border again.
He said they wanted to reach Serbia but the border is controlled by officers from Germany, Italy and Hungary, who effectively block the route.
Albanian has asked for aid to increase patrols on the border with Greece.
Talks with Turkey
Greece has expressed an interest in working with Turkey to address the flow of migrants.
The right-wing Greek prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, said he has “every interest in working with Turkey to contain illegal flows of migrants” and he is “unapologetic about defending” Greece’s borders.
The Greek maritime authorities have been criticised for pushing back vessels full of migrants seeking asylum in the European Union. Greece denies the allegations, despite the mounting evidence.
Turkey says the pushbacks violate human rights and international law by endangering lives at sea, with smugglers often using unsuitable vessels.
Albania is one of Europe’s poorest countries. Picture credit: Flickr