Italian Chamber of Deputies Approves Agreement to House Refugees in Albania

The Italian Chamber of Deputies has ratified an agreement that will enable Italy to house refugees in a reception center in Albania.

Italian MPs approve Albania agreement

Italy plans to house refugees rescued at sea in a reception center in Albania. Now, the Italian Chamber of Deputies has approved the agreement. Human rights groups have criticized the move.

The migration agreement between Italy and Albania has taken a significant step forward: the Italian Chamber of Deputies approved a bill ratifying the agreement.

The proposal was adopted with 155 votes in favor, 115 against, and two abstentions and will now be presented to the Senate, where the right-wing government led by Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni also holds a majority.

Opposition sees expensive “election propaganda”

During the debate in the Italian Parliament, opposition MPs accused the far-right Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni of using refugees for her “election propaganda.” According to them, the agreement has little impact on the number of migrants in Italy but is very expensive. The opposition estimates that the five-year asylum agreement will cost more than 650 million euros.

Reception centers planned for thousands of migrants

About two months ago, Meloni and Albania’s Prime Minister Edi Rama signed a memorandum of understanding stipulating the establishment of reception centers. These centers are intended for people who have been taken on board by the authorities at sea while on their way to Italy. According to the plans, asylum applications will be processed there, and if necessary, expedited repatriations will be facilitated.

The centers will be located in the ports of Shengjin on the Adriatic and Gjader. They are intended to accommodate approximately 3,000 people. Italy will manage the centers, and they are expected to be operational this year. Albania will participate in overseeing the facilities.

Amnesty International warned of a violation of human rights through the agreement, highlighting “automatic and potentially prolonged detention” of migrants.

The agreement is still being judicially reviewed in Albania

In December, the Albanian Constitutional Court suspended the ratification of the agreement pending a review of its constitutionality. Rama said he was confident that the court would not find any violation.

Italy has long sought help from other EU countries to accommodate the tens of thousands of migrants arriving in the country every year. Albania hopes to join the EU, and Italy has strongly supported its application.

Praise and criticism from EU Commission President

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen welcomed the agreement as an important initiative to address migration. However, human rights groups have expressed concerns that Italy is shirking its international obligations.

Currently, the British government is attempting to negotiate a similar agreement with the African state of Rwanda but is facing resistance.