Launch of information campaign for Albanian asylum seekers

This week saw the launch of an information campaign in Albania, aimed at dissuading Albanian nationals from coming to the European Union to apply for asylum or to take up illegal work. Many of these Albanians make the journey to Western Europe looking for better economic prospects; however, they do so as a result of misinformation from various sources, including human traffickers. Commenting on the campaign, the Minister for Migration Klaas Dijkhoff said, ‘This campaign is to make clear that travelling to the Netherlands in order to work in the country illegally or apply for asylum has no chance of success and is therefore pointless. Asylum seekers from Albania have no future here.’

The campaign is a joint initiative of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Dutch Repatriation and Departure Service (DT&V) of the Ministry of Security and Justice, in line with the outstanding cooperation between the two nations in the area of migration and repatriation. In 2016, approximately 1,840 persons demonstrably left the Netherlands. That number amounted to 490 in 2017 up to and including May. These migrants left both voluntarily and compulsorily.

Cooperation between Albania and the Netherlands in the area of migration and repatriation takes place on the basis of various agreements, including European agreements between Albania and the European Union. It is on that basis that the Albanian authorities cooperate to ensure the smooth repatriation of their own nationals. In addition, the Netherlands and Albania last year agreed that deportations could henceforth be arranged in groups and not only using scheduled flights, as had previously been the case. Groups of Albanian migrants were deported to Albania on government flights both in May 2016 and in February 2017.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bert Koenders, visited Tirana as recently as last April to discuss the migration and repatriation of Albanian nationals with his Albanian counterpart. ‘Our goal is to dissuade Albanian nationals from making the fruitless journey to the Netherlands. In addition, the Netherlands and Belgium will be arranging charter flights from Europe to Albania to repatriate Albanian asylum seekers to their homeland.’

In recent months, the number of Albanian nationals who have made the journey to the Netherlands in order to apply for asylum has seen a sharp drop. In 2016, approximately 1,700 Albanians came to the Netherlands to apply for asylum. In 2017, up to and including June, that number amounted to only 230. As Albania – like other countries in the western Balkans – is on the list of safe countries of origin, asylum applications from Albania have virtually no chance of success. The countries on this list are deemed safe enough for nationals to be repatriated. In addition, the introduction of the so-called ‘multi-track policy’ has resulted in applications by asylum seekers from safe countries being fast-tracked for processing by the Dutch Immigration and Naturalisation Service. As a result, asylum seekers from those countries are given a decision rapidly and in most cases are told to leave immediately. In principle, any appeal against such a decision precludes such foreign nationals from awaiting that procedure in the Netherlands. In the case of a negative decision, these foreign nationals are also given an entry ban for the Netherlands and the rest of the European Union for a period of two years.

Foreign nationals without right of residence are deemed to be responsible for their own repatriation. Anyone who needs assistance in the organisation of their departure, however, may contact the DT&V or IOM. As of September 2016, Albanian nationals who are returning to their country of origin independently are no longer eligible to receive repatriation assistance. Any migrants who do no return independently may face forced departure.

Ministry responsible