Italy Plans Overseas Asylum Facility in Albania for Migrants

Wed Dec 06 2023
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ROME: Italy has revealed plans to establish an overseas holding facility in Albania to process asylum-seekers picked up by Italian ships in international waters, The Times reported. The Italian government issued a parliamentary bill on Monday to move forward with the construction of the facility, aiming for its opening by spring next year.

The facility, located in Albania’s Shengjin port, is designed to accommodate up to 3,000 migrants intercepted by Italian ships. Once identified, migrants will be transported to the Albanian facility, where Italy proposes a 28-day asylum-processing period.

The move comes after a recent agreement between the Italian and Albanian governments, with Rome intending to expedite the repatriation of migrants disembarking from “safe countries,” including Tunisia.

The parliamentary bill guarantees migrants in the facility the right to legal aid, including private discussions with a lawyer in Italy via video conference. Migrants will be able to participate in judicial hearings through video calls if they decide to appeal against their repatriation.

The cost of operating the facility in Albania is estimated to be under $215 million per year. The facility will also include a prison unit for migrants who commit crimes while detained. While Albania will not receive payment for hosting the center, Rome will cover the salaries of the center’s guards and maintain jurisdiction over the site.

Migration Crisis in Italy

Italy is grappling with a migration crisis, with approximately 153,000 migrants arriving from North Africa this year, marking a significant increase from the 95,000 arrivals in the previous year. The new plan, however, has faced criticism from migration experts who deem the 28-day processing period as insufficient to resolve asylum disputes.

Concerns also arise due to Italy’s lack of adequate bilateral agreements with migrants’ countries of origin to facilitate swift repatriations. The feasibility and effectiveness of the proposed plan are being closely scrutinized in light of these challenges.

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