10/14/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 10/14/2021 08:52
COPENHAGEN, 14 October 2021 - Dutch parliamentarian Farah Karimi, who serves as Vice-Chair of the OSCE PA's Ad Hoc Committee on Migration and as Special Representative on Youth Engagement, has been in Albania this week discussing the situation of Afghans sheltered in Albania under Temporary Protected Status with representatives of the international community and national authorities.
On Wednesday, Karimi conducted a field visit to Shengjin, Lezhe, to meet with Afghan refugees who are temporarily being housed there, and lauded the efforts of Albania, which has been one of the first countries to offer accommodation and assistance to a wave of Afghans leaving their country after the Taliban takeover on 15 August.
Karimi also held a meeting with Alma Mele, Director of the Directorate for Local Affairs and Prefectures within the Ministry of Interior, and was briefed on how the Directorate works in receiving, screening and sheltering evacuees in co-operation with international aid organizations."The Albanian authorities - both on the national and local levels - have shown exemplary leadership in dealing with this humanitarian emergency, agreeing to temporarily shelter up to 4,000 Afghans," Karimi said. "Although the national government is not financing evacuation, shelter, health care or education services, municipalities are making local health facilities accessible to the Afghan evacuees and other organizations have stepped up to meet other needs, showing a great capacity for co-operation and co-ordination among international organizations and civil society."
Karimi added that although the Afghan evacuees are uncertain about how long it will take before they will be allowed to travel to the United States, they are very grateful for the friendly welcome they have received by Albanian government and people.
As of today, approximately 1,400 Afghan evacuees are being temporarily housed in Albania - in Shengjin, Durres and Tirana, with the largest group - totaling 906 - staying at the Rafeal Resort in Shengjin. Under Albanian asylum law, the Afghan nationals have been granted "temporary protected status" which translates into national protection under Albanian law applicable for a year, and subject to renewal by a Council of Ministers decision.
Among the organizations that are working to evacuate local staff and families to Albania are National Endowment for Democracy, Yalda Hakim Foundation, Vital Voice, and Michigan University, which fully fund all services for their evacuees independently and separately. The evacuees are planned to be permanently relocated to the United States within a year.Earlier in the week, in her capacity as OSCE PA Special Representative on Youth Engagement, Karimi participated in the OSCE South East Europe Media Conference (SEEMC 2021) held in Tirana from 11-12 October.
The SEEMC 2021, organized by the office of the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media in co-operation with the OSCE Presence in Albania, focused on media freedom challenges by exploring opportunities, best practices and ways forward to advance the media environment in SEE bringing together journalists, relevant state actors, policymakers, media and legal experts, and researchers.
Special Representative Karimi moderated the panel "The future of journalism: Young perspectives on media," a session dedicated to young journalists' participation in the public sphere. Karimi was joined by the participants of the Youth Camp "Youth and Media in Focus," a flagship youth exchange programme organized by the OSCE Presence in Albania within the framework of the "YouthTrail: Promoting OSCE Values in the Western Balkans" initiative, which aims to promote regional peace and stability.
On the margins of the conference, Karimi held bilateral meetings with Ambassador Del Monaco, Head of Mission of the OSCE Presence in Albania, and Sihana Nebiu, Head of the Democratization Department of the OSCE Presence in Albania. Karimi was briefed on the work of the mission, particularly with regards to activities on youth and gender.