NEWS:Italian PM says Albanian immigration intolerable

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Jyothi Kanics---Global Survival Network (jkanics@igc.apc.org)
Thu, 29 Oct 1998 07:49:37 -0800 (PST)


Italian PM says Albanian immigration intolerable

ROME, Oct 28 (Reuters) - Italian Prime Minister Massimo D'Alema said on
Wednesday Italy could no longer tolerate illegal Albanian immigration and
was ready to step up efforts to help the Balkan country counter the exodus.

"We are convinced the situation is no longer tolerable," D'Alema told
reporters.

"If Albanian authorities think it necessary, we are ready to offer a
greater commitment to operations to counter and prevent illegal
immigration...which have to be focused over there, on the Albanian side of
the Adriatic," he said.

D'Alema, who has been in office for one week, said Italy's new Interior
Minister Rosa Russo Jervolino was in Tirana to discuss the matter with
Albanian authorities.

Italy has been hit by large-scale immigration since the beginning of last
year when boatloads of North Africans and Kurdish immigrants from Turkey
and Iraq washed up on its shores.

Albanian traffickers have regularly ferried groups of desperate kinsmen
across the Adriatic Sea -- often braving treacherous waters in rubber
dinghies -- since communism was toppled in 1990.

Thousands have landed on Italy's southern shores in the last year alone,
sparking fear among European countries that the immigrants would pour
across their borders.

In an effort to stop the exodus, Italy and Albania last year agreed to
police the Adriatic Sea jointly. The Italian parliament also passed a new
law ordering immediate repatriation of immigrants without proper papers or
asylum status.

But, faced with immigrants in shelters who threaten to set fire to
themselves or go on hunger strikes to avoid being sent back, Italy is
having trouble enforcing the law.

"We have to make Albanian citizens understand that it is possible to enter
Italy according to set rules," D'Alema said.

"It is not right that they risk their lives by putting their safety in the
hands of unscrupulous traffickers," he added.


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