Albania has consented to provide temporary shelter to several thousands of migrants reaching the Italian shores while their asylum requests are processed. This unprecedented initiative was announced on Monday following a meeting in Rome between Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama.
Under the agreement, Italy will bear the cost of establishing two centers in Albania that could host up to 3,000 migrants at a time. Children and pregnant women will be excluded from this arrangement. If Italy rejects the asylum applications, Albania will be responsible for deporting the migrants.
Albania will provide external security for the centers, which will fall under Italian jurisdiction, as Prime Minister Meloni informed reporters. She stated that if the asylum requests are processed expeditiously, it could lead to more than 36,000 migrants being sent to Albania annually for processing.
This approach could alleviate the chronic congestion in Italy’s primary asylum processing centers. Over the past years, hundreds of thousands of migrants have arrived in Italy after perilous Mediterranean crossings from Libya, Tunisia, Turkey, and other countries.
Italy, which has been seeking in vain for more solidarity from its European Union peers to handle the large influx of migrants, is a strong advocate of Albania’s bid to join the European Union. In return, the Albanian leader expressed gratitude on behalf of the Albanians who found refuge in Italy after fleeing “from hell to a better life,” referring to the influx of Albanians into Italy during the 1990s.