Italy: Lower house ratifies Italy-Albania migrant deal

Rome: The Italian Chamber of Deputies (Italy’s lower house of parliament) approved the bill thus ratifying the agreement on migrants between Italy and Albania. Lawmakers approved the ratification bill with 155 votes in favor, 115 against and two abstentions. The bill will now head to the Senate for final approval.

Following the vote the majority applauded, while the opposition protested. They question the feasibility of the project, saying that it threatens to violate Italian and international human rights laws. They are also worried about the cost of the project.

The agreement foresees the opening of two repatriation centers on Albanian territory which could house a total of 3,000 migrants. The first is a center for the identification of migrants inland that will hold “a maximum of 3,000 persons”, and a smaller center will be built at the port of Shenjgjin, to allow Italian ships with migrants on board to dock.

The bill estimates that the centers will cost a total of €675 million to be spread over ten years, which is the planned duration of the protocol agreement. Planned payments start at €142 million in 2024, then €125 million in the years up to 2029, and lastly approximately €7.3 million per year in the final years of the agreement.

The detailed protocol goes as far as attaching maps and plans for the processing centers and how they should be built. In the plans, seen by ANSA, the center to be built at the port will have a perimeter of 240 meters, with a four-meter high external fence topped with barbed wire.