Dutch port cities increasingly struggle with Albanian stowaways: report

ferry Ijmuiden Robert Cutts Flickr

Dutch harbors with ferries to England are increasingly faced with Albanians trying to secretly cross to the United Kingdom, according to the Volkskrant. Over the past few months, hundreds of Albanian stowaways were caught in IJmuiden, Hoek van Holland, Europoort and Vlissingen. 

While the number of caught stowaways is comparable to last year - 440 in the first half of this year - the proportion of Albanians among them is increasing steadily, especially in Hoek van Holland and Europoort. In those two ports 92 percent of the caught stowaways were Albanian. 

Hoek van Holland residents are experiencing some more problems with Albanians camping out in the woods, leaving their garbage and pubic urination. Though the actual crime rate seems not to be increasing, the neighborhood police officer and local residents said to the newspaper. "They don't do anything wrong because they do not want to be arrested", Ineke Vos of the village's area committee said to the newspaper. 

Albania is a poor country with a very high unemployment rate, and therefore also has one of Europe's highest emigration figures. The stowaways from Albania are trying to reach England because they have a better there to be granted asylum or to find work as an undocumented migrant. In the Netherlands, checks on undocumented migrants are stricter and the fines are higher. The Netherlands also considers Albania to be a safe country, so asylum seekers from there have little to no chance to get refugee status here. 

If an Albanian is caught trying to sneak onto a ferry in the Netherlands, their right of residence to the European Union is deprived and they have to leave the Netherlands within a few days, according to the newspaper. How often this happens in practice is not clear.