EU: Balkan citizens make more asylum requests than Syrians

Malmstroem fears members may ask stop to visa-free Schengen area

07 July, 18:01

    (ANSAmed) - BRUSSELS, JULY 7 - The European Union received more asylum requests in 2013 from citizens of six western Balkan countries than from people fleeing Syria, the European Asylum Report Office (EASO) said Monday. EASO reported that together citizens from Serbia, Kosovo, the ex-Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina together accounted for 72,840 asylum requests to the EU-28, or 17%, compared to 50,495 requests made by Syrians. The vast majority of asylum requests in the EU-28 were deemed unfounded. The average acceptance rate was a very low 3.8%, except for Italy, where the rate of acceptance was 46%. The European Commissioner for Internal Affairs, Cecilia Malmstroem, said the discrepancy amounts to "a serious problem" that could cause the most affected member states to activate a "safeguard clause" eliminating visa-free travel in the Schengen area. Serbs, Macedonians, Montenegrins and Bosnians have aimed in particular for Germany, while Albanians have gone to France and the United Kingdom. Maelstrom said she continues to be in contact with the western Balkan countries to see how better to help and work with them, in order to give them better information and prevent abuses to the system of visa liberalization. The commissioner said there were good campaigns and cooperation, but unfortunately insufficient results.

    The majority of the asylum requests to EU countries last year arrived from Serbs - more than 20,000 - followed by Kosovars, Macedonians, Albanians, Bosnians and Montenegrins. The Serb and Macedonian migrants were mainly of the Rom ethnicity, while the Kosovars and Albanians were primarily ethnic Albanians. (ANSAmed)
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