Senior MP says authorities should turn back illegal immigrantsFeb 26, 2000
TIRANA - A senior Albanian parliamentarian said on Thursday that Albania is unable to cope with sheltering the illegal immigrants seized in Albania on their way to Western Europe and called on authorities to turn them back to their countries of origin.
The chairman of the foreign parliamentary committee Sabri Godo, of the opposition Republican Party, rejected government plans to use camps formerly used to accommodate ethnic Albanian refugees during the Kosovo crisis for sheltering illegal immigrants, including Kurds and Chinese seized in Albania on their way to Italy.
He said the authorities should discourage any tendency to turn Albania into a springboard for Italy. "They should be returned to the countries they came from," said Godo.
Godo said that the illegal immigrants have turned into a "raw material" for Albanian smugglers, who are believed to earn huge profits by transporting them to the far shore of the Adriatic.
Most immigrants into Italy use Albania as a transit point to cross the Adriatic Sea by speed-boat.
The Albanian government has been considering Italian proposals to use Italian funds to maintain the former Kosovar camps, turning them into temporary shelters for illegal immigrants seized in Albania.
Press reports said on Thursday that Albania has agreed, during a meeting of interior ministers of Albania, Greece and Italy last week, in the northern Greek island of Corfu, to accommodate here the illegal refugees that use the Albanian coast as an embarkation point for illegal travel to Italy and who have been seized by Italian police.
Italy has reportedly offered to help finance the maintenance of the camps and to increase the admission quotas for Albanian immigrants in the country, a procedure used with many other countries of the Third World, which are either transit points or places of origin for illegal immigration towards the country.
"We cannot receive these illegal immigrants in Albania, and should return them to the countries they came from," said Godo.
Albania is now finding itself in a difficult position with scores of illegal immigrants targetting its coastline to take the illegal trip to Italy. The country has no special extradition agreement with either Greece or Macedonia, to turn back the illegal immigrants.
After the collapse of communism and its opening up to the world, Albania has become a departing place not only for Albanian would-be migrants, but for Kurdish and Chinese emigrants, who come into Albania via Greece or Macedonia.
According to press reports, the number of foreign illegal immigrants entering Italys southeastern region of Puglia last year was 47,000, of which only 15 percent were Albanians.
Kurds Using Kosovo Entry Points for Albania
Kurds have recently started to use another entry point into Albania, the north-eastern border crossing of Morina on the border with Kosovo, said local police officials in Kukes on Thursday.
An Albanian guide was detained for helping seven Kurds cross illegally into Albania at Morina, sources close to the Ministry of Order reported on Thursday.
He was cooperating with Albanian Kosovars, who accompanied the Kurds through Kosovo from Macedonia, along a new alternative route for illegal transit into the country. Albania has recently increased security against illegal immigration through its southern border crossings with Macedonia and Greece, and has turned back scores of illegal immigrants, mainly Kurds. Albania took strict measures after being criticised for allowing easy passage of illegal immigrants who used the country as a transit point for Western countries. Illegal immigrants had been using Rinas Airport, the Kakavija and Kapshtica border crossings as the main entry points into Albania, but are now seeking alternative routes, including Kosovo, to avoid capture.