IOM organized the meeting of the Heads of Border Police in the Western Balkans to discuss humanitarian border management, border security challenges and readmission systems

Budva – On June 14 and 15, 2022, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) organized a regional meeting of the Heads of Border Police in the Western Balkans.

Bringing together high-level delegations from Border Police of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Kosovo*, the meeting served as a platform to foster intra-regional cooperation in humanitarian migration management.

Organized within the scope of the regional projects „Western Balkans Readmission Capacity Building Facility” (WBCAP) and “Western Balkans Integrated Border Management Capacity Building Facility” (WBIBM) funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, the meeting was the opportunity to discuss trends, challenges and ways forward in responding to border security challenges, mindful of migrant protection principles and respect to human rights. 

Since 2018, mixed migration flows have increased significantly in the Western Balkans. The increased and more complex movements in recent years have placed additional pressure on the capacities of Western Balkans migration management authorities to effectively manage their borders and address arising border security issues, such as smuggling of migrants and trafficking in human beings. Regional cooperation and coordination are crucial to address these identified challenges and promote functional, effective and integrated systems of border management.

 “After the closure of the migrant route back in 2016, there was an opportunity and the need for the Heads of Border Police from the Western Balkans region to meet regularly and exchange information, good practices and information on migration management and responding to border security challenges”, declared Donatella Bradić, IOM’s Sub-Regional Migration Management Team Leader.

Participants were presented with protection-sensitive approaches to identify and assist victims of trafficking. The need to implement broad responses from the entire protection sphere was highlighted, making sure frontliners and partners are familiar with protection practices – including disseminating appropriate information, ensuring protection-sensitive entry and building referrals procedures. The need to develop innovative regional or bilateral tools in humanitarian border management was also emphasized as important step to develop operational ability in mixed migration response. 

„Within the context of mixed migration flows, developing operational tools is crucial to better respond to the increasing and diverse vulnerabilities with a protection-centered approach“, noted Donatella Bradić.

The second day of the meeting was focused on readmissions arrangements and cooperation between Western Balkans authorities and countries of origin. While delegations exchanged knowledge and had the opportunity to learn good practices from Denmark, Turkey and Georgia, IOM reaffirmed its continuous support to operationalize rights-based and tailored solutions contributing to safe and orderly return and readmission – ranging from revision of legal frameworks, support in operational procedures to enhancement of national capacities. 

In the Western Balkans, IOM continues implementing programming, combining policy, dialogue and capacity building interventions tailored to the needs of each country, while fostering cooperation and harmonization. Throughout its actions, IOM aims to contribute towards enhancing border management, supporting rights-based response to border security challenges and strengthen readmission systems in line with international standards. 


* References to Kosovo shall be understood to be in the context of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999).