The numbers of migrants and refugees in Albania have risen in recent years. According to the Department of Border and Migration, 11,344 people were detained at the border between January 2019 and February 2020.
The Euro-Med Monitor called on the government of Albania ‘’to immediately undertake necessary measures to provide adequate housing and sufficient food supplies to refugees and migrants in its custody, in addition to ensuring their safety from gang violence.’’
The imposition of a curfew on 16 March has impacted undocumented migrants across the country. Refugee centres have been closed, and migrants and asylum seekers left outside, looking for food.
There were 876 confirmed cases of Covid-19 as of 13 May in the country.
On 4 March, the Albanian government announced the temporary release of around 600 prisoners for 3 months. This measure concerns inmates held for minor offences, as well as the elderly and individuals suffering from chronic diseases. There is an estimate of 5,500 prisoners in Albania, whose penitentiaries are overcrowded.
On 10 April, a group of more than 30 human rights organisations issued an open letter to the government protesting a plan to imprison individuals who disobey quarantine orders. The penal code was indeed amended on 16 April to impose two to eight years of jail time for rule-breakers.
19 inmates tested positive to Covid-19 on 20 April, and were isolated immediately. The Tirana penitentiary hospital had been dedicated exclusively to inmates who tested positive to the coronavirus.
- KPMG, “Government and institution measures in response to COVID-19”, 11 May 2020, https://home.kpmg/xx/en/home/insights/2020/04/albania-government-and-institution-measures-in-response-to-covid.html
- G. Erebara, “Albania to Free 600 Prisoners as Pandemic Precaution”, Balkan Insight, 24 March 2020, https://balkaninsight.com/2020/03/24/albania-to-free-600-prisoners-as-pandemic-precaution/
- G. Erebara, “Albania’s Planned Jail Terms for Curfew Breakers Spark Protests,” Balkan Insight, 10 April 2020, https://balkaninsight.com/2020/04/10/rights-organizations-protests-albanias-anti-covid-proposals/
- B. Koleka, “Albania To Impose 2-8 Year Jail Terms On Coronavirus Quarantine Rule-Breakers,” Reuters, 16 April 2020, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-albania-prison/albania-to-impose-2-8-year-jail-terms-on-coronavirus-quarantine-rule-breakers-idUSKBN21Y3BH
- V. Karaj, “Violence and Hunger Stalk Refugees and Migrants in Albania,” Balkan Insight, 6 May 2020, https://balkaninsight.com/2020/05/06/violence-and-hunger-stalk-refugees-and-migrants-in-albania/
- Euro-Med Monitor, “Albania Should End Refugees’ Suffering of Hunger and Violence,” 10 May 2020, https://reliefweb.int/report/albania/albania-should-end-refugees-suffering-hunger-and-violence
- Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2019, Albania, https://www.state.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/ALBANIA-2019-HUMAN-RIGHTS-REPORT.pdf
- A. E. Taylor, “Refugees in Balkans at Higher Risk from Coronavirus,” Exit News, 23 March 2020, https://exit.al/en/2020/03/23/refugees-in-balkans-at-higher-risk-from-coronavirus/
- The Gates of the National Centre for Asylum Seekers in Babrru, Tirana, (Vladimir Karaj, “Violence and Hunger Stalk: Refugees and Migrants in Albania,” Balkan Insight, 6 May 2020, https://balkaninsight.com/2020/05/06/violence-and-hunger-stalk-refugees-and-migrants-in-albania/)