Trickle of refugees continues at southern border

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times December 16, 2015 10:43

Story Highlights

  • As Serbian and Macedonian authorities ban entry to migrants not escaping war, the Albania border is emerging as an option for other nationalities trying to leave Greece

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At the largest border crossing with Greece, Kakavija, police said they detained 23 foreign nationals who had illegally crossed into Albania in the past two weeks. (Photo: Archives)

At the largest border crossing with Greece, Kakavija, police said they detained 23 foreign nationals who had illegally crossed into Albania in the past two weeks. (Photo: Archives)

TIRANA, Dec. 16 – Police officials at Albania's southern border with Greece say a trickle of refugees trying to transit to northern Europe from Greece through Albania has continued, but the feared large winter influx has not yet materialized.

At the largest border crossing with Greece, Kakavija, police said they detained 23 foreign nationals who had illegally crossed the border into Albania in the past two weeks.

Police in the nearest city, Gjirokastra, said the detainees were Moroccan nationals trying to get to Montenegro on the way to Germany.

Three Iranian nationals were detained at at another crossing, Qafebota, south of Saranda, according to border officials.

Police said that those who say they are refugees and don't want to go back to Greece are sent to a detention center on the outskirts of Tirana for further checks.

Following a decision of the Serbian and Macedonian authorities to allow only refugees from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan to cross their borders unimpeded, the Albanian – Greek border is emerging as an option for other nationalities.

Albanian authorities have been on alert for several months for the possible arrival of large numbers of refugees escaping war in Syria and elsewhere.

Two military bases near Gjirokastra and Korca, the two largest Albanian cities near the Greek border, have been set as potential welcoming centers for the refugees, but Albanian officials say if the country is hit with the numbers Macedonia and Serbia have seen over the past few months, it will not be able to cope.

Refugees have so far largely avoided Albania because the mountainous terrain makes it difficult to find a direct route north over land.

However, Albanian and international officials are worried that could change as crossing elsewhere becomes difficult. The largest worry is that desperate refugees could try another dangerous sea crossing toward Italy from the Albanian coast.

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times December 16, 2015 10:43