The Austrian government is worried.
The following map and article were published yesterday in Österreich:
Many thanks to Egri Nök for helping me translate the captions on the map:
This is the new route
Old path through Serbia
18,222 border-crossers into Greece — 145% increase compared with the same period in 2017
New trek through Albania — New path for traffickers: From Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia, Croatia, Slovenia all the way to Austria
Egri also translated the accompanying article:
This is the New Refugee Route
Traffickers found a new route, after the closing of the Balkan Route
Government raises the alarm: Refugee numbers are on the rise, the refugees found a new route to Austria
Stream of refugees
Through May 20 a total of 18,222 people made it across the Aegean to Greece — those are, according to the government, which published new figures on the refugee streams yesterday, 144.8 percent more than in the previous year. Many of them risk their lives by trying to get across the “river of death” Evros between Turkey and Greece. 3,986 people were apprehended there in April — in the month before there were 1,658.
It is obvious to the experts: The traffickers, after the closing of the Western Balkan route, moved from Macedonia to Albania. This new “Albanian Route” leads from Greece across Albania and either Montenegro or Serbia to Bosnia-Herzegovina. These two countries, however, are just classical “transit countries” — afterwards, the route continues across Croatia and Slovenia to Austria.
Last year the strongest stream of was refugees unleashed — still via the old route — only in the second half of the year. The government is accordingly worried about the dramatic increase: in Bosnia-Herzegovina, since the beginning of the year, approximately 4,000 illegals have arrived. In the past three weeks alone, there were roughly 1,200 refugees. In comparison: during the entire year of 2017 there were only 755 refugees who were registered in asylum centers in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Slovenia, the final way station before Austria, has recorded an increase in refugees of 380 percent, to 1,500.
In Austria, the apprehensions of illegal migrants were on the rise: In the week before May 17 there were 352 people, 75 more than the week before.
Kurz and Kickl want to close “Albania Route”
Chancellor Sebastian Kurz gathered his cabinet together on Sunday in summer temperatures in the idyllic Mauerbach (Lower Austria) — but the topic aren’t as idyllic: today, the new welfare measures are introduced [to the press]. But mainly the government is warning of a second wave of refugees, which Kurz, Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl, and Interior Minister Herbert Kickl think they are seeing in the Balkans: According to Kneissl, currently, there are about 30,000 to 40,000 refugees waiting in the Balkans. This new route should be closed preventively:
- Meeting with Rama: Kurz will receive the Albanian premier Edi Rama in Vienna this week — he is to be convinced to stop the refugees back at the outer border. The chancellor is certain that this is just a “question of wanting to.”
- Seal borders. FPÖ interior minister Herbert Kickl is preparing to close the borders to a possible storm: “In that case I will close all borders to Austria,” he promises. A refugee stream like that of 2015 “must not be repeated.” Despite the fact that the new border patrol force is still being assembled, he can deploy “500 to 600 officers to seal the border. We are prepared,” announced Kickl.
Kickl warns Balkan countries: We are closing now
- Contacts with Balkan countries. Additionally, the interior minister intends to warn the Balkan countries today “from Greece to Slovenia.” “We are going to inform them that, in the case of such events, Austria will seal itself off.”
- Deployment in Northern Africa: Additionally, the securing of the outer borders will become a priority topic for the Austrian EU presidency from July 1 on. In Die Welt Kurz supports having the EU border patrol Frontex “intercept migrants back in North Africa.” It was about “stopping the traffickers’ dirty business, and preventing traffickers’ boats from embarking on the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean.” For this, Frontex needed a new mandate so that it could operate in North Africa, too. It is too slow, in Kurz’ opinion, to strengthen the force to only 10,000 officers until 2027.
Insider reveals: Afghans pose as Pakistanis
About 70 percent of the refugees currently on the Albania route are from Pakistan. An insider explains to ÖSTERREICH: “In my opinion, there is a huge share of Afghans among them, posing as Pakistanis.” The reasons: it has become difficult for Afghans to be awarded asylum — the majority of pending asylum cases concern Afghans.
According to the insider, there is already a large proportion of Afghans in Austria who pose as Pakistanis with forged documents.
Hat tip: Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff.