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Albania agrees to briefly home migrants who attain Italy whereas their asylum bids are processed

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ROME — Albania agreed Monday to offer momentary shelter to a number of the hundreds of migrants who attain Italian shores whereas their asylum bids are being processed, providing its neighbor throughout the Adriatic Sea some reduction in managing a number of the arrivals.

The groundbreaking initiative was introduced after Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni met in Rome with Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama.

Italy can pay for the development of two facilities in Albania which may maintain as much as 3,000 migrants at a time, beneath the deal. Kids and pregnant ladies can be excluded from the plan. If Italy rejects the asylum bids, Albania would deport the migrants. Albania would additionally present exterior safety for the 2 facilities, which might be beneath Italian jurisdiction, Meloni instructed reporters.

Meloni stated if asylum functions are swiftly processed, as many as 36,000 migrants might be despatched for processing on Albanian territory yearly. That would assist relieve power overcrowding at preliminary asylum processing facilities in Italy, the place during the last years, a whole bunch of hundreds of migrants have set foot after making dangerous sea voyages throughout the Mediterranean from Libya, Tunisia, Turkey and different nations.

Italy has sought extra solidarity, primarily in useless, from fellow European Union nations, to assist it deal with the massive variety of arrivals. On Monday it turned to Albania, which is hoping to hitch the bloc.

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Meloni expressed gratitude to Rama for providing help. Albania “isn’t solely a good friend of Italy, but additionally a good friend of the European Union,” she instructed reporters whereas flanked by the prime minister. Albania “behaves as if it is one” of the EU members, added the premier.

Italy is a giant booster of Albania’s bid to hitch the European Union.

Albania’s chief in flip expressed gratitude on behalf of Albanians who discovered refuge in Italy, and “escaped hell and imagined a greater life.” That was a reference to an inflow of Albanians to Italy within the early Nineteen Nineties.

In 1991, some 20,000 Albanians got here on one dangerously overcrowded ferry that reached the southeastern Italian area of Puglia. It was lower than a 12 months since political pluralism was introduced in that nation, which for many years, beneath communism, had been closed to a lot of the world, and solely months after the primary democratic election. Poverty was widespread, together with bread in brief provide, and Albanians noticed Italy as their “Western window.” Lots of the Albanians settled in Italy, obtained work and raised households.

Thus far this 12 months, 145,000 migrants have arrived by sea in Italy on smugglers’ unseaworthy boats, in comparison with 88,000 in the identical interval final 12 months.

Lots of the migrants are ineligible for asylum as a result of they’re in search of to go away poverty, not persecution or warfare. However whereas they’re awaiting for closing choices, many make their option to northern Europe the place they hope to search out household or jobs.

Beneath the accord reached on Monday, Italian authorities will deal with disembarkation and identification procedures within the Albania port of Shengjin, some 75 kilometers (46 miles) northwest of Tirana, the Albanian capital.

The brand new facilities ought to be up and operating by subsequent spring, Meloni stated.

Rama stated Italy’s geography, with the nation jutting southward throughout a lot of the Mediterranean, is “its curse. Once you enter Italy, you enter the EU.”

Beneath EU guidelines, the nation the place asylum-seekers first set foot should course of their functions, even when the migrants need to go elsewhere.


AP reporter Llazar Semini contributed from Tirana, Albania.

Observe AP’s international migration protection at https://apnews.com/hub/migration

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