Brussels / Rome, November 7, 2023 — The International Rescue Committee (IRC) warns that Italy’s new migration agreement with Albania is dehumanising and “strikes a further blow to the principle of EU solidarity” which is fundamental to the creation of a functioning European asylum system.
Susanna Zanfrini, IRC Italy Country Director, says:
"The Italian government's plan to build reception centres for asylum seekers in Albania is a testament to its disproportionate focus on preventing people from arriving in the EU, rather than creating safe and legal avenues for those seeking refuge. Big questions loom over the application of Italian jurisdiction in Albania, as it remains unclear how people on the move could access asylum and exercise their basic rights in a non-EU territory. The notion of 'processing migrants' used in the debate is also deeply dehumanising.
“While joint pan-European efforts for a more humane migration policy are urgently needed, Italy can choose to lead by example, expanding humanitarian admissions for refugees and establishing legal channels for people on the move. It's time to shift the focus from walls to welcome. Closing borders will not deter people from seeking safety; instead, it may force them to undertake even more perilous routes."
Imogen Sudbery, IRC Senior Director, Europe Advocacy, adds:
“Everyone has the fundamental right to apply for asylum - regardless of where they are from, or how they arrive. This latest decision by Italy is part of a concerning trend that undermines this right - focusing on preventing people from reaching Europe, rather than welcoming them with dignity and respect.
“This is not the first time a member state has looked into this possibility but there are fundamental reasons why these past proposals have not gone ahead: the process of offshoring is beset with numerous flaws on moral, legal and practical grounds.
“This decision also strikes a further blow to the principle of solidarity, which lies at the heart of a functioning European asylum system. It is not beyond the means of a wealthy and stable region like the EU to welcome people seeking safety in a humane and organised way, providing all member states are willing to do their bit. However, if individual countries go their own way, there is little chance of EU states forging a coherent approach that works for all - people seeking safety, and host communities alike.
“It is vital that EU states uphold and strengthen the right to claim asylum on their territory. Any migration partnerships struck with non-EU countries must be conditional on upholding the fundamental rights of people on the move. And the EU must expand existing and create more safe routes to protection in Europe, so people are not forced to risk their lives on dangerous routes in the first place.”