Italy aims to export migrant crisis to Albania
Can Albania accept migrants deported by Italy? A court in Tirana is deciding on the legality of an agreement with the Italian government, in which Rome can send EU asylum-seekers to the Balkan country.
The Albanian courts technically have until March 6 to make a decision, but their verdict is expected to come sooner because both sides have something important to gain. Under the deal, which has been tacitly endorsed by the EU, up to 36,000 migrants a year would wait in Albania while Italy rules on their asylum claims. In exchange, Italy has pledged to support Albania’s bid to join the EU. Italy would fund and run the migrant facilities, but the land would remain in Albania’s hands.
Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, who was elected last year in part on a pledge to tamp down illegal migration, is desperate to limit the number of migrants entering the EU through Italy, which has increased by 50% over the past year.
But human rights groups worry the deal could incentivize more EU nations to deport migrants to third countries in Europe, where they are unable to ensure the same standard of asylum rights. The UK, of course, is in the final stages of passing a similar bill in which asylum-seekers would be deported to Rwanda while their asylum claims are processed.