Albania Plagued by Stranded Children Across Europe, Probe Required into Their Whereabouts

Over 60,000 children from Albania has sought asylum for the first time in an EU country during the last 10 years (2011-2020) or otherwise almost 10 percent of the children population. The data are made public by Eurostat, the EU statistics agency. In 2021, INSTAT reported that a total of 656,441 children under 18 years old are living in Albania, said CRCA / ECPAT Albania in a press release on Friday.

There is no information on the living condition and situation of these children or their whereabouts. Such a significant number of children-asylum seekers poses a series of economic, social, security and political risks, both in the short-term and long-term development plan of the country.

It is not known how many of these children have been granted asylum, how many of them have been refused and how many are still waiting for an answer. According to Eurostat, over 82 percent of asylum-seeking children from Albania are under the age of 14. At least 45 percent of them are girls while 55 percent are boys. All these data make the phenomenon even more disturbing.

The largest number of asylum-seeking children was in 2015, with about 18 thousand children, while during 2020 over 1700 children applied for asylum in an EU country. The most preferred place for children to seek asylum is France, followed by Germany and Belgium.

The European Union does not have a unified asylum policy, so the placement and the protection of children varies from country to country in each EU member state. Albania during the last ten years, ranked on the 5th place for child asylum seekers, together with countries such as: Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq and Russia.

CRCA / ECPAT Albania is deeply concerned about the state of children in Albania and the fact that no one even talks about this, as if it doesn’t exist! It is the duty of the Government, the Parliament and the Municipalities throughout the country, to find solutions both at the local and national level!

On the other hand, 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 be formed also in a few days, to finally turn its eyes to the children! 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," said the press release.

In the meantime it is announced that even President Ilir Meta has required the establishment of an inquiry commission to shed light on this frightening issue. / argumentum.al