Italy to Help Albania Stop Refugee Influx
Worries that people smugglers may reactivate the 'Adriatic route' across Albania to Italy, Italian and Albanian are to work together on measures to prevent this from happening.
Italian police are to help their counterparts in Albania stop a feared influx of refugees after countries on the so-called Balkan route closed their borders, reports "BIRN".
Worried that refugees may divert their route to Western Europe through Albania and the Adriatic Sea - ending up in Puglia - Italian authorities have decided to invest in preventing such a situation.
Albanian Interior Ministry sources told BIRN that experts from the two countries' ministries are working on memorandum about setting up joint patrols among other measures.
Italy will help secure the Albanian maritime border so as to prevent the possible organisation of smuggling of refugees into Italy.
Another point of collaboration is expected to be intelligence, reflecting fears that terrorist elements could sneak into Albania and Italy along with the migrants and refugees.
The idea to collaborate emerged from a meeting in Rome on March 4 between the Albanian and Italian Interior Ministers, Saimir Tahiri and and Angelino Alfano.
Albania is already trying to deter a possible influx of refugees - but some 45,000 are now stuck in neighbouring Greece, following the closure of the so-called Balkan route through Macedonia and Serbia.
Genc Merepeza, director of Albanian Border Police, told BIRN that Albania lacks the capacity to handle a major influx.
"We are not going to open our doors as we don't have the capacity for it," he said.
No refugee camps have been made ready to host a possible influx coming from Greece.