Italy's migrant deal with Albania faces rights hurdles and red tape

# 07 November 2023 20:51 (UTC +04:00)

Italy's government is hailing as "historic" a plan to send seaborne migrants to Albania, but experts and opposition politicians warn that it could face significant bureaucratic and human rights obstacles, APA reports citing Reuters.

The move is part of an EU-wide drive to clamp down on irregular immigration. Other countries, including Germany, are toughening their policies, amid negotiations within the bloc to overhaul asylum rules and reduce arrivals.

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni announced the initiative on Monday with her Albanian counterpart Edi Rama, saying her country would build two centres to host up to 36,000 migrants per year on Albanian soil.

The centres, one on the coast for identification and another inland for detention, would be paid in full by Italy and operate under its jurisdiction, meaning they would be covered by European Union asylum rules.

"Big questions loom over the application of Italian jurisdiction in Albania, as it remains unclear how people on the move could access asylum and exercise their basic rights in a non-EU territory," Susanna Zanfrini of the International Rescue Committee, a humanitarian group, said.

A source in Meloni's office said the deal was sealed during her summer holiday in Albania and was aimed at deterring seaborne migrants, who would no longer be assured of access to EU territory after setting off from North Africa.

"This is a historic achievement. For the first time, a non-EU country will help a member state in handling illegal flows," top Meloni aide and government undersecretary Giovanbattista Fazzolari told daily Corriere della Sera.