Exodus From North Causes Concern in Montenegro

05 May 15

Exodus From North Causes Concern in Montenegro

The Montenegrin government is being urged to take measures to stop a mass migration from northern regions after hundreds of families reportedly left, seeking economic asylum in Western Europe.

Dusica Tomovic


Montenegro’s government has been urged to reveal how many Montenegrins are fleeing the north of the country and seeking asylum in Western Europe because of poor living conditions and unemployment.

An official from the country’s junior ruling Social Democratic Party, Damir Sehovic, on Tuesday said the growing problem of mass migation from the the north should be a priority for parliament, which is why he was calling for an an urgent debate.

He said local NGOs had assessed that about 3,500 people had left five towns in the north over the past four months, which was worrying.

The opposition Socialist People’s Party has also demanded an immediate reaction from the government.

The party claimed that poverty and the absence of basic conditions for a dignified life was forcing thousands of people to seek salvation far from their homes.

Euromost, an NGO from the northern town of Bijelo Polje, the town most affected by migration, says more than 1,500 people left the north of Montenegro in the last month.

Hundreds of others have also left the towns of Rozaje, Berane and Pljevlja. Most of them have gone to Germany and Luxembourg, trying to obtain economic asylum, which they are unlikely to obtain.

After the expiration of the three-month period, which is how long they can legally remain in these European countries, they refuse to return and instead stay on illegally, the NGO said.

Montenegro has an unemployment rate of 15 per cent. But the jobless rate in the north of the country is higher, according to estimates. A third of the jobless are university graduates under 30 years of age.

The average monthly salary in the country is around 490 euro, but, according to recent data from the Tax Administration, one in every eight people lives on less than 200 euros a month.

According to the latest report of the European Employment Frontex border, the number of asylum seekers from the Western Balkan to the “Schengen-zone countries rose sharply in 2014. Compared to 2013, twice as many requests for asylum have been filed in 2014.

The northeast of Montenegro is home to most of the country’s Bosniaks who make up just under 9 per cent of the population nationally.

Source: Balkan Insight (Montenegro)