From: Alice Taylor
Child Rights Organization: Where are Albania’s 60,000 Asylum-Seeking Children?

An Albanian NGO has called for an urgent Parliamentary Inquiry to investigate the more than 60,000 Albanian children who have applied for asylum outside of the country.

CRCA/ECPAT, a children’s rights organization, has published startling figures that show over 60,000 Albanian children have sought asylum for the first time in an EU country during the last 10 years. This equates to 10% of the minor population of the country, which according to INSTAT, currently stands at 656,441.

In an impassioned statement, they called for parliamentarians to find out why they left, who is responsible, and what happened to them.

“During the last 10 years, the numbers of children from Albania requesting asylum have increased exponentially, creating a generation of unaccompanied children, vulnerable to violence, exploitation, slavery, and crime. Given this extraordinary situation, CRCA/ECPAT Albania will ask the new Parliament to urgently set up a Parliamentary Inquiry to identify the reasons, causes and who is responsible for the mass asylum of Albanian children!”

They noted that there is no information on these children’s living conditions or situation, or even where they are now.  Such a high number of child asylum seekers poses “a series of economic, social, security, and political risks both in the short-term and long-term,” they added.

The organization noted no official data on how many received asylum, how many were refused, and how many are still waiting for an answer. Eurostat notes that over 80% of Albanian children seeking asylum are under 14 years old.

Year by year, the statistics are sobering. In 2015, 18,000 children applied for asylum, while in 2020, the figure was 1700—the most preferred place for seeking asylum in France, followed by Belgium and Germany.

The organization said:

“This data is a slap in the face for every government representative and politician in Albania and an alarm bell for our society. They talk about a hopeless situation for thousands of children across Albania, who see leaving their country as a solution for a better life. They talk about the lack of investment in food, well-being, education, entertainment, and social protection services for children who have nothing to live with! They tell the desperate story of thousands of children and parents who think that a way to escape the misery can be found in trafficking, slavery, or exploitation!”

They have asked the government to respond to the following questions:

  • Where are all these children?
  • Are they alive or dead?
  • Have they been enslaved?
  • Are they attending school in an EU country?
  • Who is responsible for this massive exodus of children?

“With the opening of the new legislature of the Albanian Parliament in a few days, we will formally request the establishment of a Parliamentary Inquiry Commission to investigate the situation of all asylum-seeking children, their location, and those responsible for this situation.

We strongly believe that the figures are an urgent call for the new Government, which will also be formed in a few days, to turn its eyes to the children finally! Only serious investments in education, food, and security of children, parks, leisure, and social protection services, would make it possible for children to stay and build a better life in Albania.”