Italy parks boat refugees in Albania, Brussels asks for clarification | Abroad

Italy parks boat refugees in Albania, Brussels asks for clarification | Abroad
Italy parks boat refugees in Albania, Brussels asks for clarification | Abroad

Italy will outsource part of its reception of immigrants to Albania. From next spring, 36,000 boat refugees per year can be accommodated in two centers in the Balkan country.

Migrants picked up by the Italian coast guard or navy will be dropped off across the Adriatic Sea in Albania from the spring of 2024. This was agreed by Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and her Albanian colleague Edi Rama. Italy is building two reception centers there; one in the port of Shëngjin in the north of the country and one in nearby Gjadër.

In total, the two centers can house three thousand migrants. With the accelerated asylum procedure, in which, according to the Meloni government, applications can be completed within 28 days, this means that around 36,000 migrants per year can be received in Albania. It is not clear whether the Italian government itself carries out the asylum procedure and what happens when people are granted asylum. Will they still be allowed to enter the EU, or will they stay in Albania?

The Italians will also provide security in the reception centers. Security around the asylum seeker centers is a task of the Albanian government.

The Albanian Prime Minister says he is pleased with the agreement because of the historical bond between his country and Italy, and the opportunity to express gratitude to Italy for hosting tens of thousands of Albanians in the early 1990s. After the fall of the communist dictatorship, Albanians crossed the Adriatic Sea en masse in search of a better life in Italy.

Edi Rama and Giorgia Meloni. © ANP / EPA

‘Italian Guantanamo’

The left-wing opposition is shocked by the agreement and is talking about ‘deportation’ and an ‘Italian Guantanamo Bay’. “At best it is a bad law, at worst rights are being violated here,” said Peppe Provenzano, migration spokesperson for the social democratic PD.

The European Commission asks Italy for clarification. “It is important that the agreement respects European and international law,” a spokesperson for the European Commission told the Italian news agency La Presse. “We are in contact with the Italian authorities and are asking for detailed information. We have to look very carefully at what will be done.”

The United Kingdom and Denmark have similar plans to slow immigration. The first flight with asylum seekers from London to Rwanda was blocked at the last minute by the European Court of Human Rights, and the new Danish law to accommodate asylum seekers in African countries is also encountering objections in Brussels. It is not compatible with current European legislation.

Yet a majority of the Dutch House of Representatives wants the government to follow the Danish example. And now the Meloni government may become the shining example for The Hague.

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The article is in Dutch


Tags: Italy parks boat refugees Albania Brussels asks clarification


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