Fury in Albania as locals slam Italy for new migrant detention centres in their country

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell Jun26,2024

Many Albanians are unhappy and worried about their country becoming a hotspot for migration issues with the new Italian detention centres being built in their country.

For the past few months, Italy has been building migrant detention centres in Albania, across the Adriatic Sea. Managed by Italian authorities, these centres are intended to accommodate 36,000 people annually, rescued at sea, while their asylum applications are processed.

Although the project has the backing of Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, it has sparked significant backlash among locals.

This sentiment is especially strong in the village of Gjadër, where one of the two planned detention centres is under construction, and in the port city of Shëngjin, where thousands of migrants rescued by Italian ships will disembark.

Residents of Shëngjin, an economic hub in northern Albania, fear that the influx of refugees will deter tourists, drawing parallels with situations in Lampedusa, Italy, and Lesbos, Greece.

Despite widespread opposition, few residents openly criticise the powerful Prime Minister Edi Rama. However, in the capital city of Tirana, some activists have organised protests, accusing the government of sacrificing national sovereignty.

Prime Minister Rama justified the decision by emphasising Albania’s special relationship with Italy and a historical “debt” from the 1990s when many Albanians fled to Italy to escape political chaos. Rama argued that, given this history, Albania should assist Italy in managing the current migration crisis. He also pointed out that Albania is a tolerant and multi-faith society, largely devoid of far-right politics.

Originally, the centres were scheduled to open on 20th May, but construction delays have pushed the date to 1st August, as announced by Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni during a recent visit to the sites in Albania.

Giorgia Meloni’s support for the project has also drawn criticism. Opposition parties and NGOs in both Italy and Albania have denounced the centres as inhumane and a violation of international law.

Despite these criticisms, Meloni praised the agreement with Albania, highlighting its goals to combat human trafficking, prevent illegal immigration, and ensure that only those eligible can enter Europe.

“If what we have imagined here works – and it will work – then we will have inaugurated a completely new phase in managing the migration issue,” the Italian leader said at one of the building sites.

The project is a significant financial commitment, with Italy expected to spend around 700 million euros on the initiative. Critics argue that this money could be better spent on domestic issues, such as healthcare, and have labeled the project a costly and cruel farce.

Additionally, concerns about human rights and the fairness of the asylum process in Albania have been raised, given the designation of certain countries as “safe” despite documented human rights abuses.

In 2022, about 16,000 Albanian citizens applied for asylum in the UK, making up 16% of all asylum applicants, according to the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford.

Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

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