Case Investigation and debate in the framework of the program “Setting up an evidence based system for data gathering, advocacy and action for ensuring child rights”

Massive Emigration of Albanian Citizens towards EU Countries and the capacity of the new administrative territorial and functional units to withstand the needs of the returned emigrants

        1. Situation Analysis

In the last two years Albania is undergoing a situation of massive emigration of its citizens. The situation is seen to be more problematic for some of the regions of the country, which are seen as “hotspots” to this phenomenon. Lots of refugees are aiming the EU countries as political and economic asylum seekers. From the latest news and latest published data from EuroStat the total number of asylum seekers in the 28 European Union Countries at the end of 2014 was 69,165 asylum applicants. The first targeted country and the country which has the highest number of asylum applications in 2014 was Germany with 20,375 total number of applications, followed by Hungary with 14,075 applications.

The situation appears more problematic if we refer to Germany’s Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF). According to BAMF the total number of asylum seekers in Germany at the end of 2014 was 173,072 people and in the first 4 months of 2015 it is 100,755 asylum seekers. These data appear to be and become very alarming. From the total number of applications in Germany, in April 2015 Albanian asylum seekers were ranked the first with a total number of 4794 Albanian asylum seekers, followed by Kosovarians, with a total of 4608 applications only in April 2015. According to BAMF the total number of Albanian asylum seekers during 2015 is 11,053.

Despite all the announcements that the German Federal Ministry of the Interior has done that the process of seeking for political and economic asylum damages Albania’s EU integration process and there are no chances for the asylum seekers to benefit from the asylum, Albanian citizens continue to take the risk.

Even though BAMF has made public the total number of asylum seekers coming from Albania, there is a lack of information about the number of refugees and the areas/regions that these refugees come from. There are some identified “hotspots”, but there is no official data or information from the state institutions in Albania. Until now, the responsible state institutions at central level of governance, and the local government units have not given disaggregated information regarding the number of refuges, regions were these refugees come from, or the main reasons why this situation has worsened, and the consequences of this situation for the socio-economic development of the country.

What is considered and seen as a big problem with this situation, is the time when these refugees will be returned back to Albania. One of the supposed theses is that they will return poorer than they left, because they have sold everything they own by leaving Albania, and the need will be greater when they come back.

The local government has not done yet a scanning and an evaluation of the existing and the expected situation. The communes from which these people have emigrated from, will be rearranged with the new administrative – territorial reform, and will be part of the new municipalities that will be created after the local elections of 21 June 2015. The main question is: will these new municipalities have the potential to administer this entire situation? What are their capacities, roles, competences and resources to deal with the emergency situation that will result from the return of the emigrants?

Considering the problematic situation described as above, on May 2015 Observatory for the Children’s Rights has done a first scanning, about the situation at the Regional level and has gathered some information regarding this phenomenon in the main regions of the country. The primary information gathered by Observatory staff was collected for all the regions of the country and based on the first data and the disposal information, the regions mostly affected by this phenomenon are: Kukes, Fier, Korça and Vlora.

In Fier region the number of refugees is counted to be thousands. The refugees are mostly from Cakran village, Portez village, Libofsha, Darzeza, Levan and Fier city. In Kukes region the highest number of refugees is from Shishatvec, Zapod, Topojan, Terthore, Shtiqen, Gjinaj and Fajza. Until now the assumed number of refugees from Kukes region is 3500 refugees, and Kukes region is considered to be as one of the hotspots of Albania.

The refugees from Vlora region were one of the first ones to leave the country and the most affected villages are Novosela and Shushica. The way that these refugees have left the country and planned for this is almost the same. Most of them have sold the livestock, lands they owned and their houses to make the money for emigration.


    1. Proposed strategy for intervention

Based on the analysis of the situation the proposed strategy for an intervention may be focused on two main components:

    1. Conduction of a national research to monitor the situation of the massive emigration of Albanian citizens. The aim of the research will be:
    •  Firstly to properly scan all the country and to identify the number of refugees up to the lowest administrative level, and to identify the “hotspots”
    •  Secondly, to identify the main reasons of this massive emigration. Based on the first scanning from the observatory for children’s rights, bad economic condition is seen as one of the main reasons, and the economic stagnation is seen as a main factor of this phenomenon.
  • Thirdly, to be to identify the capacity and to define the strategies to be used from the new local government units, based on the new administrative – territorial reform to reintegrate these people in the community. What are the actual capacities and what would be the needs of the local institutions to face with the needs of the returned emigrants, as well as the needs of the citizens not to leave the country.

Several methodological approaches and methods can be used for the research, as desk research to collect data from public institutions, national survey with citizens, focus groups with representatives from different groups of interests, as local government, etc.

      1. Organization of a national Awareness Raising and Advocacy Campaign to influence policymaking and decision-making at central and local level of government to address the issues and recommendations resulting from the national research, with a special focus on the reintegration of the returned refugees. The results can provide valuable data and indications for the government, with regards to the new functions and roles of local government units, as well as preparation of national, regional and local strategies of socio-economic development of the new local government units.

Considering the expected changes in the legal framework in the roles and competences of the local government in Albania, following the administrative – territorial reform, and the preparation of the new Strategy for Social Protection and its Action plan, the timing for such intervention is considered as opportune to bring positive changes with regards to the problematic situation of emigration and its effects in the society.

What is the actual situation of the Albanian emigrants?  (updated information – December 2015)

immigration-map-2015Regarding the issue of Albanian emigrants, the Observatory for the Children’s Rights with its 12 offices in the regional level has established communication with the Regional Directorate of the Border and Emigration (RDBE). Lately these structures are covering the regions of Albania in two, which means each directorate covers two regions. Observatory has handled to get information only from 2 directorates, RDBE Kukes which covers Kukes and Diber, and RDBE Shkoder which covers Shkoder and Lezhe. Only Korca region has achieved to get this information from the Borderline Police.  Regarding data about returned children to school, info is gathered from Local Education Directory (DAR), when not all 31 DAR/ ZA (Local Education offices) have been sensitive to reflect this information.

The data gathered from the upper mentioned sources for Korca, Kukes, Lezha, Tirana, Shkodra and Dibra are reflected in the map below:

The reasons why Observatory staff could not get information for the other regions are as follows:

– Data is still in process of elaboration (for some of them);

– Data is kept in TIMS system in the borders and this system is not available in the districts and local authorities;

–  The information is confidential only for internal use;

– This information is not collected as Institutions shows not to have a proper infrastructure to cover these issues.