(en) Albania Report - 03/19

Thur, 19 Mar 1997 17.22 GMT

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Note on Origin: The I-AFD (Initiative for an Anarchist Federation in Germany) is a small anarchist organisation in germany attempting to build an extensive structure of all anarchists regardless of theoretical differences to improve effectiveness, cooperation and discussion within the anarchist movement. It is organised internationally in the IFA (International of Anarchist Federations).

Robert (for the A-Infos Group in germany)


*I-AFD Group Hamburg I* (i-afd_2@anarch.free.de) ALBANIA REPORT from March the 19., 1997

News reports said the Albanian government has rejected the rebels' ultimatum regarding Berisha's resignation today (it was clearly said it was the government this time, not only Berisha refusing to step down). The situation in Tirana was said to be calm, but 14 people are reported dead by stray shots and ricochets during the last 24 hours. Reports pointed out that food was getting scarce by now.

Most news items concentrated on the situation in Italy today: Italy has declared a national state of emergency as they say they got more than 10,000 Albanian refugees now. The state of emergency is said to help in getting refugees housed etc in what was called an unbureaucratic way (but obviously it also enables Italy to send back people as quick as possible). Italian authorities claim that they cannot put up more refugees. On the other hand, more and more vessels not at all seaworthy have to be rescued by Italian coast guard - today's reports spoke of several hundred people being rescued just before their boat sank - and judging by earlier reports that about 80% of Albania's both naval and merchant fleet already moored in Italy, the number of refugees still to come must be limited anyway.

Furthermore, Italian authorities announce that they started to deport back Albanian criminals and other unwanted elements. Apparently all refugees have their fingerprints taken which are compared to fingerprints already recorded. It was not specified what these unwanted elements mentioned would be. According to some reports, Italian authorities claimed that the persons already deported were escaped criminals. Other reports said they were persons being convicted in Italy during previous stays.

Also those not going to be deported immediately will get limited stay permits. German TV stations spoke about stay permits valid for 60 days whereas BBC World said stay permits issued will be valid for three months at the most.

Italy prepares a shipment of humanitarian aid to Albania, thus stepping ahead of any decision by EU in this respect as EU has no come up with a decision on humanitarian help by now. Italy also mobilizes elite troops but the soldiers have been warned not to leak out where they are bound to go.

A European news channel called Euronews showed some uncommented pictures of a Greek naval vessel arriving in Saranda carrying humanitarian aid. The vessel was welcomed in the port of Saranda by the populace. The goods were unloaded from the vessel, and it all seemed to be pretty well organized judging by the pictures.

Another "no comment" showed the deportation of Albanians resp. their arrival in Tirana where armed soldiers (wearing combat dress) were awaiting them. They were brought in by Italian military helicopters, and from what it looked like they did not land at Tirana civil airport but at some air base in/near Tirana. The deportees were watched and guarded closely by the soldiers.

One report said that incoming vessels were now closely searched by Italian coast guard as "the mafia" was trying to smuggle guns and ammo into Italy. It was not mentioned whether they were talking about an Italian or Albanian mafia here; reports during the last days have quite frequently talked about an Albanian mafia at least in Tirana and Durres, so e.g. in connection with the criminals demanding passage fees in the port of Durres. It was quite obvious that these were armed gangs but as it seems to be pretty popular in our media to talk about mafias everywhere, I did not repeat that in these terms.

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