NEWS: Italy and Albania sign accord to help fight illegal immigration

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Jyothi Kanics---Global Survival Network (jkanics@igc.apc.org)
Thu, 12 Nov 1998 09:03:28 -0800 (PST)


Italy and Albania sign accord to help fight illegal immigration
November 10, 1998

ROME (AP) - Italy and Albania pledged Tuesday to work together to stop
criminal gangs who smuggle illegal immigrants across the Adriatic, often
leaving them stranded at sea.

Premier Miasma D'Alema said Italian police would ``advise and assist''
Albanian authorities in fighting organized crime. He said the biggest aim
of the accord signed with Albanian Premier Pandeli Majko was to save lives.

Boats carrying would-be immigrants arrive on Italy's long coastline from
Albania or northern Africa almost daily.

Smugglers usually demand large fees for the voyage and then frequently
leave the immigrants at sea aboard rickety boats, forcing them to swim
ashore. Dozens of people have died trying to reach the coast.

``We are trying to hit the smugglers, not the immigrants,'' D'Alema said.

Under the accord, Italy also promised to promote democracy in Albania and
help the country forge closer ties with the European Union. Italy also
agreed to encourage Italian businesses to invest in Albania.


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