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Feature: Kosovo witnesses dramatic surge of illegal emigration

PRISTINA, Feb. 10 (Xinhua) -- In a matter of few weeks the Pristina-based construction company "Pozhegu Brothers" has witnessed a sudden decline of its workforce in a wave of illegal emigration that has hit Kosovo in recent months.

The company says that it has lost 40 members of its workforce for the purpose of emigrating for a better life and prosperity into a European Union (EU) country.

"Out of 40 workers that left the company, 13 have had direct contracts with us, while the others were employed in our partner companies working exclusively for us," says the company in a press release.

They stress that each of them was a qualified and experienced worker, and in terms of financial sustainability each of them earned between 350 and 600 euros a month.

Other companies and businesses are reporting the same problem of workforce resigning from jobs for emigrating purposes.

Kosovo is witnessing a dramatic surge of people leaving in recent weeks, as openly hundreds of people depart from Pristina bus station to the border with Hungary.

It's a phenomenon happening each evening with a couple of buses transporting them first to Belgrade, just to move toward Hungary and the EU with other means. Reports show that they cross Hungarian border illegally and move deeper into other EU countries as they enter the Schengen Zone.

They flee poverty and employment, generally, as the security situation is no reason for anyone to leave Kosovo.

"Everyone is going, so do I. There is no jobs, no opportunities here. Perhaps I can find a work elsewhere," Visar Shehu, a father of two children, tells Xinhua, as he waits for the bus to leave for Belgrade on Monday evening at a Pristina bus stop. He does not reveal his final destination.

Kosovo institutions are alarmed with the phenomenon though they have little means in hand to prevent it. A great concern poses the fact that not only the working force is leaving. Parents are taking children with them, leaving behind a record drop of pupils in schools.

"Minister of Education" Arsim Bajrami spoke with great concern for the declining number of pupils in schools.

"That's a very hard problem that is hitting Kosovo. It's a problem that demands a multidimensional analysis and an urgent action plan, because up to 5 thousand pupils have abandoned schools, which is of great concern," said Bajrami.

Kosovo leader Atifete Jahjaga has been active in convincing citizens not to leave the country in an attempt to stop the flux of illegal migrants.

"The solution is not to run away," said Jahjaga and called on citizens to stay and search for solutions.

Western diplomats in Pristina have repeatedly said that such an endeavour is dangerous and without results as EU countries do not grant asylum status for Kosovo citizens.

The Head of the EU Office in Kosovo and the EU Special Representative (EUSR), Samuel Zbogar said that Kosovars' fleeing towards EU countries is an illusion, because all of them will return to Kosovo.

"Every citizen who is running from Kosovo is a tragedy. They are leaving for a better life, but this will remain just an illusion, because none of them can get asylum in the EU countries. Asylum can take only people fleeing from the countries in war or unsafe countries [for life], but Kosovo is not one of them," said Zbogar.

He warned that emigration is affecting negatively the visa liberalization process that Kosovo is negotiating with the EU.

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