Rise in migrants from Kosovo headed to the EU
(23 February 2015)
Kosovar Albanians are increasingly trying to enter the EU by transiting through Hungary and Serbia, prompting EU members to intensify border controls in the region. Media estimates suggest up to 100,000 Kosovar Albanians have left Kosovo since August 2014, whereas Kosovo security forces estimate that about 50,000 migrants have made the journey. The European Commission has urged Kosovo to strengthen border supervision and improve cooperation with neighbouring countries, noting that there has been a 40 percent rise in asylum claims from migrants from Kosovo since December 2014.
Causes of migration include poverty and organized criminal groups who profit from migrants, according to EurActiv. Migrants transiting through Serbia and Hungary have benefited from 2014 freedom of movement agreements between Serbia and Kosovo. However, because Kosovo remains the only western Balkan country without a visa-free regime with the EU, Kosovars are also increasingly applying for Serbian passports to travel freely with the EU.
Preventing mass exodus from Kosovo was the topic of a meeting between representatives of police from Hungary, Serbia, Austria and Germany on 9 February. They agreed to strengthen cooperation along shared borders, and Germany agreed to provide additional assistance with enforcement infrastructure as well as monitoring travel documents. Meanwhile, in Kosovo, the Kosovo Assembly passed a special resolution about stopping illegal migration and requesting funding for economic and social development.
Hungary may close border to stop Kosovan migrants, 7 February 2015, BBC News, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-31188263
Poverty spurs mass migration from Kosovo, 16 February 2015, EurActiv.com, http://www.euractiv.com/sections/global-europe/poverty-spurs-mass-migration-kosovo-312131