Albanians now account for the largest group of new arrivals claiming refugee status in the Netherlands, the justice ministry has told broadcaster Nos.
In the first two months of this year, 480 Albanian nationals requested asylum in the Netherlands even though their chances of being awarded refugee status are virtually zero.
At the same time, the number of Syrians applying for refugee status in the Netherlands has fallen from 5,000 a month to a few hundred. However, if relatives arriving under family reunification schemes are included, Syrians are still the biggest group, Nos said.
Albania, one of the poorest countries in Europe, is regarded as a safe country. Since January 2015, just four Albanians have been allocated refugee status and 795 have been refused.
Zeki Shehu of the Albanians in the Netherlands Coordination Council told Nos that many Albanians don’t see any difference between asylum and migration and just want to work. In addition, the Albanian government benefits from its nationals working in foreign countries because they send money home, Shehu said.
Since March, the Dutch government has brought in faster procedures to deal with people from safe third countries who claim asylum so they can be sent back more quickly.
In January, the Netherlands reached a deal with the Albanian authorities to deport illegal Albanian immigrants in large groups by specially chartered planes. No flights have yet been chartered, Nos said.
Albanians who agree to return voluntarily are given a plane ticket and €200. Since January 2015, 385 people have taken advantage of this scheme.
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