‘Refusal not an option’: Why Albania opened its doors to Afghan refugees


Albania was one of the first nations to throw open its doors to Afghans when the Taliban took over on August 15. Within hours, Prime Minister Edi Rama had announced to the world that the Balkan nation would serve as a “transit country” and host refugees, notes Amanda Coakley.

Rama’s government was first approached by two big NGOs from the US looking for safe shelter for their colleagues and their families and then by the Biden administration. Within 10 days two locations were confirmed in Shengjin and Durrës, another seaside town further down the coast, she writes for Al Jazeera:

A sense of being discarded by the West in their hour of need still haunts many Albanians. So when the announcement was made that Afghans would be housed in Shengjin and Durrës, most people were welcoming of the decision. “In some respects we have been in the position of Afghanistan today, passing the Adriatic [Sea] in Biblical scenes only three decades ago,” Remzi Lami, director of the Albanian Media Institute, told Al Jazeera from Tirana. “In this context refusal was not an option and it’s seen as fair by the Albanian public.”

But there are some tensions with “old guard” elements, says Mustafa Madzidiar, a former government adviser, who has taken on the role of community coordinator on behalf of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), which has helped more than 300 people get to Shengjin, Coakley adds. RTWT 


Print Friendly, PDF & Email