Meloni: Meloni’s center for Albanian migrants to open in August

SHENGJIN (Albania) (Reuters) – The contested Italian migrant centre that is being built in Albania, will be operational by August, said Prime Minister Giorgia Meoni on Wednesday. She presented the “tool for deterrence”, during a trip to the Balkan nation.

Meloni, who wants to reduce migration to Italy by limiting the number of asylum seekers in Italy, signed an agreement with Albania last summer to send thousands there to process their applications at two specially-built centres run by Italian authorities.

The centres will be operational on August 1, 2024, a year later than originally planned.

Meloni, a reporter at the time, said that a goal such as this was worth the two-month delay. He added that the agreement could be replicated by many countries to help solve the EU’s migration crisis.

Last month, 15 European Union countries sent a letter to the EU Commission asking for new ways to facilitate the transfer of migrants to non EU countries. They cited the agreement between Italy & Albania as an instance.

Meloni stated that “the most useful aspect of this project can be an extraordinary deterrent for illegal migrants who are destined to enter Europe.”

Edi Rama and Meloni, the Albanian Prime minister, both rejected suggestions in the media that the centers could be vulnerable to organised crime infiltration. They also reiterated their full support for the project.

He said, “Italy has helped Albania numerous times. If we can be helpful to Italy even once, we will do so. We will do it with our hearts.”

Two leaders met at the Shengjin port in northern Albania, where the first centre of reception has been built.

The system will identify migrants rescued in international waters by Italian ships and give them the opportunity to request international protection at their first opportunity.

Meloni stated that “no vulnerable persons, such as minors, women and older, frail or elderly individuals, would be brought into Albania.”

The second facility is still under construction in Gjader.

According to the bilateral agreement, both facilities will eventually reach their full capacity of 3,000 seats.

Meloni estimated the funds required to implement the agreement will amount to 670 millions euros (727.22 million dollars) over five year, which is roughly the amount Italy would have spent on processing the asylum claims of migrants at home.

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