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Italy Refuses Refugees, Plans to House Them in Albania

Albanian parliament approves a five-year deal with Italy

Tirana: Albania has emerged as a refuge for thousands of refugees bound for Italy, with the Albanian parliament recently ratifying a five-year agreement with its Mediterranean neighbour. The accord, inked between Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and Albanian Prime Minister Rama in November, secured approval from both chambers of Italy’s parliament.

Despite opposition from political dissenters in both nations, as well as human rights entities like Amnesty International and rescue organisations, the Albanian Parliament greenlit the agreement. Its validity faced scrutiny in Tirana’s Supreme Court, only to receive the Constitutional Court’s endorsement last month, clearing the path for Thursday’s vote. With 74 seats in the 140-member parliament, the ruling party secured the agreement’s passage.

Under this bilateral pact, Italy will host up to 3,000 migrants at any given time, establishing two processing centres in Albania at a cost of 600 million euros, exclusively managed by Italy. Italy commits to expediting asylum applications, with Prime Minister Giorgio Meloni announcing operational readiness by spring, alongside assuming legal responsibility for migrants.

Known for her stringent stance on refugees, Italy’s right-wing prime minister has taken measures to curb NGO rescue missions in response to refugee boat incidents. Albanian Prime Minister Rama credited Italy’s past sheltering of asylum seekers in the 1990s post-communism collapse for fostering the current agreement.

However, the opposition vehemently denounced the pact with Italy. Gazment Bardhi, a prominent right-wing opposition figure, accused the agreement of jeopardising national security, integrity, and public interests.

Criticism extended beyond domestic borders, with the International Rescue Committee and Amnesty International branding the agreement as illegal and unenforceable. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, nevertheless, endorsed the pact.

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