IOM: Increasing employment opportunities one of the key factors to end Kosovo exodus

Despite Kosovo’s 7th independence anniversary yesterday, the country’s economic challenges have caused Kosovo Albanians to exit the country and search for better opportunities in other European countries. The IOM Pristina Chief of Mission Mr. Jorge Baca states to Presheva Jone that the exodus will have a major impact on Kosovo’s economy. The UN Independent Expert on the Promotion of a Democratic and Equitable International Order, Dr. Alfred de Zayas, encourages Kosovo’s youth to stay in their home country. 

GENEVA, February 18, 2015 – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) states to the Albanian news agency Presheva Jone that the current migration flow of Kosovo Albanians leaving Kosovo, in search for better opportunities in Western European countries, will have a major impact on Kosovo´s economy.

The IOM points out that Kosovo can be struck by the brain drain phenomenon referring to the emigration of highly skilled and educated people from a country.

“Brain drain, especially related to skilled workers and young professionals but not only, will have a major impact on Kosovo´s economy if the current migration flows continue,” Mr. Jorge Baca, the IOM Pristina Chief of Mission, said to Presheva Jone.

Since August 2014, various sources confirm more than 100,000 persons have left Kosovo. The government of Kosovo claims those figures are much lower without précising the final figures.

The Spokesperson of the European Union High Representative for Foreign Policy and Security, Maja Kocijancic, has told media in Kosovo that the EU is concerned with the migration of Kosovo Albanians.

iommmm111The main destination of the Kosovo migrants is countries such as Germany, France and Switzerland. Due to the high numbers of Kosovo Albanians seeking asylum in German, Berlin has sent 20 police officers to the Hungarian-Serbian border to monitor the flow and reduce the number of illegal migrants entering the European Union (EU).

According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Kosovo’s unemployment rates stands at 35.1% whereas the youth unemployment rate, aged 15 to 24 years, is at 60.2% being one of Europe’s highest.

Based on the figures from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Kosovo’s 2015 GDP growth is anticipated at 3.3%, which is unlikely to spur significant improvements in Kosovo’s economic outlook.

Mr. Baca points out to Presheva Jone that one of the main factors for the exodus are related to economic challenges and misinformation on social media among other factors:

“The main push factor is unemployment and the low salaries for those who are employed. Poor health services and health insurance. Misinformation on social media has also played a role in the rise of asylum seekers. Rumors have been circulating on social media about Germany accepting seasonal workers from Kosovo.

“Misinformation circulating regarding benefits that can be received in Austria and entering the labor market in Germany, where asylum seekers now can work after three months’ residence in the country, compared to 9 months previously might also be a push factor.

“Another factor may be the easing of travel. Since last fall, Kosovo nationals have been able to leave the country with only a Kosovo ID.

“Children below 16 can travel with only a birth certificate. The issuance of birth certificates in Kosovo for the purpose of procuring an ID is on the rise, which coincides with the increase in asylum requests in Hungary, Austria and Germany.

“The GOK (Government of Kosovo red.adm) also added to the push factors ‘misinformation that is being made to the citizens of Kosovo by some criminal groups, to motivate them to leave the country and cross borders illegally.’”

In order to reduce the flow of migrants leaving Kosovo in significant numbers, Mr. Baca suggests a range of options, which can encourage Kosovo Albanians to stay in their home country and contribute to strengthen Kosovo’s future.

“Prevention campaigns on irregular migration. Increase the information available to all potential migrants jointly coordinated with governments of origin, transit and destination. Increase employment opportunities.

“Continue the fight against corruption and impunity at all levels to increase confidence on Kosovo citizens and reduce the ongoing migration flows.

“Improve health services, education ensuring a better access to basic services,” were the recommendations given by Mr. Baca, the IOM Pristina Chief of Mission, to the Albanian news agency Presheva Jone.

In addition to this, the UN Independent Expert on the Promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, Dr. Alfred de Zayas, declared the need for Kosovo to stop the exodus stating “Kosovo needs its young people and its best minds in order to build a stable democracy and a healthy economy.”/ Blerim Mustafa

Photo credit: Reuters, IOM

* This article was written by the author in his personal capacity. The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not represent the view of Leidar

Link to original article (Presheva Jone, also available below): http://www.preshevajone.com/iom-increasing-employment-opportunities-one-of-the-key-factors-to-end-kosovo-exodus/

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