Video – Combating smuggling of migrants in Western Balkans
According to Frontex data, the Western Balkan route continues to be the most active route to the European Union, with over 106 000 detections of illegal border crossings. Frontex has concerns that criminal networks will try to maximise their profits by getting involved in various criminal activities, using available criminal infrastructure and business models. On the other hand, longer stays of migrants in the Western Balkans region, more difficult border crossings and increased smuggling fees are all the circumstances increasing the risk factors and exposure of migrants to various forms of abuse, violence or exploitation, in particular of those most vulnerable among them (women, children, unaccompanied minors).
Having in mind the cross-border nature of this crime, a regional response is necessary, and all for the purpose of strengthening regional cooperation and developing a uniform migration management response based on partnership between organisations and responsible state authorities.
This need has been recognised by the European Union and the Embassy of the Kingdom of Norway that have supported Group 484 together with BRMC network members to implement complementary regional activities.
Regional and national training courses have been held for representatives of ministries of interior, public prosecutor’s offices, institutions for reception of migrants and asylum seekers and civil society organisations in 6 Western Balkan countries, with over 200 participants.
A unique methodology was applied in these training courses for the first time at the regional level. The training concept is based on simulation of investigation and training materials were developed based on real cases in the Western Balkan region.
After the training, a regional conference “Western Balkans on the Route of Irregular Migration and Smuggling of Migrants” was held with the participation of all relevant stakeholders who discussed current issues related to combating smuggling of migrants and protection of smuggled migrants, taking also into consideration key migration management challenges in the WB and EU Member States, with a particular focus on the care for Ukrainian refugees.
By acquiring practical knowledge and through the exchange of experience, we wish to enhance human capacities at the regional level so that we could establish a joint response to new migration management challenges.
We extend our gratitude to donors for recognising and supporting the need for cooperation.