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Albania: by the thousands, they see their future in the West

Ⓒ AFP – GENT SHKULLAKU – | An Albanian who tried to seek asylum in France in Shkoder, Albania, on November 6, 2017

Ergyl Geci was 16 when he left Albania by car for an unknown French city, where the driver named him the door of a center for asylum seekers before abandoning him.

According to official figures, the teenager is one of 17,095 Albanians who dreamed of asylum in the Schengen area during the first nine months of 2017, a majority in France (7,655) and Germany (4,750). If the latter country stops the phenomenon (nearly 15,000 requests in 2016), it remains out of control in France (3,375 additional files).

Albanian Deputy Interior Minister Rovena Voda discusses “more flexible legislation” in France, “six to nine month” review deadlines against one in Germany: “This motivates people, with ‘hope to stay, to find a job, …’ In July, the French Minister of the Interior, Gerard Collomb, announced a visit to Albania within three months. It still has not happened. Monday, his entourage indicated that it would take place mid-December.

Left on his own in July in Nancy (eastern France), Ergyl, a farmer’s son near Shköder (north), was hoping to win the Grail. His smuggler had never explained to him that his chances were small, Albania being considered in the West as a safe country.

– Prosecution against parents –

He did not invoke, like others, homophobic or family violence or the local “vendetta”. He got his good report card, which he had authenticated by notary the French translation. “I wanted to study, I do not see a future here,” he says.

Ⓒ AFP – GENT SHKULLAKU – | Albanians who were denied asylum abroad at a police station in Tirana airport, Albania, 27 September 2017

Of the 28 families it follows (32 children aged 7 to 17), “three or four are very poor, but the others have normal economic conditions,” says Regional Social Services Manager Valbona Tula. “Parents know that by sending their children abroad, they give them other possibilities …”.

Ergyl returned to Shköder in September, worn out by “stress and fear” in a center for older immigrants, where he was the only Albanian. His journey cost him 700 euros. His father Astrit claims to have known nothing. “There are cases where parents accompany their children, leave them near train stations, reception centers, …” says a social worker, Julian Jana.

From now on, letting your child emigrate knowingly is punishable by fines or even imprisonment. In August and September, 45 parents were prosecuted, compared to five the previous seven months, and 682 minors were turned out, twice as many as during the beginning of the year.

But in this poor country, plagued by corruption, these measures will be insufficient to discourage candidates at the start. Last year, the US authorities received 200,000 Green Card applications, an unbelievable proportion of 7% of the 2.8 million people.

– ‘I will try my luck again’ –

This “market” attracts greed. Three travel agencies are being prosecuted on suspicion of providing false documents, says Aida Hajnaj, director of borders.

Ⓒ AFP – GENT SHKULLAKU – | An Albanian who was denied asylum in Germany in Shkoder, Albania, on November 6, 2017

Arrested in Frankfurt in possession of a false Bulgarian passport, a 20-year-old woman met on her return to Tirana airport in September, explained that she had paid 1,000 euros. Same sum evoked for his Italian residence card by a 23-year-old man intercepted in Calais, in the north-west of France.

They are forbidden to return for a year. Not Majlinda Lesha, a 50-year-old single mother who has two stays in Berlin in 2014 and 2016. This time, she thinks of France, perhaps Bordeaux (south-west) where her nephew, she says, is arrived in September.

In the meantime, she and other members of her family gather in an icy apartment in Shköder, where they live on eight of 200 euros of public aid: “They say that Albania is a safe country but I can not not even pay for electricity. ”

Her months in a Berlin center were “a tale,” “a miracle,” “a paradise,” she says: school, free medical care and sport for her child, chocolates at the social worker’s. ..

“We have to motivate people to stay in Albania,” Deputy Minister Voda said. Ergyl Geci, who dreams of being an engineer, is not convinced: “The school is over, I will try again.”

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