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Migrants waiting in Tunisia react to Albania's controversial deal with Italy

A car exits from the port of Shengjin, northwestern Albania, Nov. 7, 2023.   -  
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Armando Babani/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.


Migrants and asylum seekers in Tunisia's capital on Thursday expressed divided opinions over Albania's controversial migration deal with Italy.

Albania’s parliament approved a deal for the country to hold thousands of asylum seekers for Italy in a vote on Thursday, despite protests from opposition lawmakers and human rights groups.

For some of the people currently sheltering at a camp in Tunis, Albania is not the destination of choice for them.

However, others said they were open to going to Albania, especially those fleeing war or repression in their own countries.

"We need safety and security because we don't know what will happen to us in Albania. If Europe's decision will help us, we support it and hope they will help us because we are already fleeing from war,” said Ahmed, a Sudanese refugee, who did not give his last name.

Under the five-year deal, Albania would shelter up to 3,000 migrants rescued from international waters at any one time.

With asylum requests expected to take around a month to process, the number of asylum seekers sent to Albania could reach up to 36,000 in a year.

Albania is not a European Union member, and the idea of sending asylum seekers outside the bloc is controversial.

The deal was endorsed by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen as an example of out-of-the-box thinking, but has been widely criticised by rights groups.

The agreement, signed in November between Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama and Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni, is part of Meloni’s efforts to share the burden of addressing migration with other European countries.

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