Joint state border patrols to guard the new, Balkan migrant route

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times July 20, 2018 11:28

Joint state border patrols to guard the new, Balkan migrant route

Story Highlights

  • The 'Balkan Refugee Route' includes the way refugees take from the Turkish to the Greek border, and then their crossing to Montenegro by transiting in Albania in order to reach Bosnia and Herzegovina and, eventually, European countries such as Italy, Austria and Germany.

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TIRANA, July 20 – Border police of at least eight Balkan countries and beyond are cooperating with Albanian border police on a mission aiming to limit the number of refugees coming in at the Albanian-Greek border of the Gjirokastra district.

The ‘Balkan Refugee Route’ includes the way refugees take from the Turkish to the Greek border, and then their crossing to Montenegro by transiting in Albania in order to reach Bosnia and Herzegovina and, eventually, European countries such as Italy, Austria and Germany.

According to Albanian border sources, the mission is supported by the Austrian government and is expected to last for a week.

Border officers from neighboring countries such as Montenegro, Macedonia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Austria and Germany are becoming part of the patrol service of the Greek-Albanian border area, closely inspecting the compliance of standards and identifying refugee groups trying to enter Albanian territory.

According to official Albanian Border Police data, about 26 refugees have been stranded during the last three days on the Albanian-Greek border.

Part of these refugees have willingly returned to the Greek territory, while the rest were sent to Albania’s Asylum Seekers Centre.

Albanian authorities have added to the measures of the Greek border regime over the past two months, as there has been an increase of refugee numbers. In addition to border police controls, DELTA and Quick Intervention forces are also patrolling the green area between the countries.

More than 1,600 refugees, the majority of whom from Syria, requested asylum in Albania during the first five months of 2018.

During an early-June meeting with Prime Minister Edi Rama, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz spoke of a “new road for refugees being formed in the Balkans.”

“Human traffickers are trying to smuggle people in Central Europe from Greece through Albania. We will not be mere spectators in the face of this transformation, but fighters,” Kurz said.

Meanwhile, Greece also announced two new border-strengthening programs, co-funded by the European Union.

According to Greek official sources referring to the Greek Ministry of Defense, the first program foresses the acquisition of up to six electro-optical sensor systems for eight helicopters, with a total cost of 34 million dollars, of which 85% will be funded from the EU.

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times July 20, 2018 11:28