Tech & Rights

They Will Find Another Way: Closing the Balkan Route Won't Solve the Refugee Crisis

With the Balkan route closed, hundreds of thousands of refugees trapped in Greece now have no choice but to find more dangerous routes north.

by Justine Cary
While European leaders say they have closed the so-called Balkan route, the main refugee route to Europe, they are letting down hundreds of thousands of refugees in Greece.
Since Macedonia, Croatia and Slovenia shut their borders, a humanitarian tragedy is occurring at Idomeni, where men, women and children are trapped, living in horrible conditions.

European governments appear proud of their agreement with Turkey – which provides for the return of new migrants to Turkey – and claim that "irregular flows of migrants along the western Balkans route have come to an end."

But there is no plan to take care of migrants currently stuck in Greece – and all the others arriving every day – and irregular migration will probably still continue, but through other routes with different dangers for migrants.

Way to Europe will only get riskier

The refugees cannot and will not simply abandon their journey and thus will have to choose different routes. They will certainly try to reach the Albanian coast to cross the Adriatic to Apulia, Italy. This route is well known in Italy since it was used by Albanian migrants in the 1990s.

Here the threat to migrants is much greater. They will have to resort to smuggling once again and the 50-mile crossing is more dangerous than the Aegean Sea, where too many migrants have already died. Moreover, Italy and Albania are absolutely not prepared to manage an increase in the flow of migrants.

European policies, instead of resolving the migrant crisis, are making the situation worse. Refugees have to embark on more dangerous and clandestine journeys. If the crossing between Albania and Italy is unsafe, there are others routes even more dangerous envisaged too, such as from Greece and even Turkey to Italy or from Egypt to Lampedusa.

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