- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- All Balkan Countries
Belgian authorities have seen an exponential growth of Albanian asylum seekers in the last two months, warning Tirana that criminal networks might behind the sudden surge.
Freddy Rosemont, head of Belgium's Asylum and Migration Department, said at least 240 Albanian citizens have sought political asylum since the start of October, compared to only 44 in September.
"If this trend continues, by the end of the month the number of Albanian asylum seekers will reach some 400," Rosemont said in a joint press conference in Tirana with the head of Albanian police, Hysni Burgaj.
"Behind these people that are falling prey to lies is an entire organisation - networks that provide documents and fake papers in exchange for huge amounts of money," he added.
Visa-free travel to the EU took effect for Albania on December 15, 2010, allowing Albanian citizens to travel to Europe’s borderless Schengen zone.
Following the visa liberalization process there were few applications for asylum from Albanians in the EU and the recent spike in application is a matter of concern for local authorities.
“We will investigate every organization that provides fake documents, conning Albanian citizens to apply for asylum in Belgium,” warned Burgaj. “These are criminal acts and the responsible will be brought to justice,” he added.
The Hague Tribunal has been successful in bringing wartime commanders to justice but hasn’t met expectations on reconciliation, chief prosecutor Serge Brammertz told BIRN.