Albanians, not Syrians the largest group seeking asylum in Netherlands

The number of Albanians applying for asylum in the Netherlands increased explosively since the summer, to the point that they are now the biggest group seeking asylum in the country. About 250 Albanians apply for asylum in the Netherlands each month, the Ministry of Security and Justice said to broadcaster NOS.

In 2014 a few dozen Albanians applied for asylum in the Netherlands. Last year that increased to 1,010. And in the first two months of this year 480 Albanians submitted an asylum application. On March 14th there were 1,074 Albanians staying in Dutch asylum centers.

Albanians are now the largest group of people applying for asylum in the Netherlands. This is mostly due to a decrease in the number of Syrians submitting application. At the peak in the autumn some 5 thousand Syrians applied for asylum in the Netherlands per month. That dropped to a few hundred per month. Though if people coming to the Netherlands to join a family member are also counted, Syrians are still the largest group.

It is unclear why so many Albanians are seeking asylum in the Netherlands. Albania is considered a safe country, which means they have very little chance of success. Since January 1st last year only four Albanians were granted refugee status.

Zeki Shehu, chairman of the Coordination Council of Albanians in the Netherlands, told the broadcaster many Albanians see no difference between the asylum- and migration policy. They just want a better life and submit an asylum application, hoping for the best. "They ask for a residence permit here and see if that works", Shehu said. In Albania nobody tells them that they have little chance of success.

According to Shehu, the Albanian government benefits from asylum seekers in other countries and therefore encourages emigration. "The whole economy of the Balkans runs on money that migrants send to their country of origin."