- Title: ALBANIA: ITALY REPATRIATES 290 ALBANIANS.
- Date: 19th March 1997
- Summary: TIRANA, ALBANIA (MARCH 19, 1997) (RTV - ACCESS ALL) 1. LV: WIDE OF AIRPORT/ SECURITY (2 SHOTS) 0.03 2. MV/GV: VARIOUS OF SECURITY AT AIRPORT INCLUDING ARMED SOLDIERS AND ARMOURED PERSONNEL CARRIER (APC) (3 SHOTS) 0.25 3. LV: ITALIAN HELICOPTERS APPROACHING AIRPORT (2 SHOTS) 0.33 4. GV: VARIOUS OF HELICOPTERS LANDING (3 SHOTS) 0.49 5. SV: ITALIAN SPECIAL FORCES ON TARMAC/ VARIOUS OF REFUGEES GETTING OFF HELICOPTERS AND BEING ESCORTED AWAY BY ARMED GUARDS (7 SHOTS) 1.28 6. GV/MV/MCU: HEAD OF EUROPEAN MISSION JAN DE MARCHANT ET D'ANSEMBOURG SPEAKING AS NOTED (ENGLISH) (7 SHOTS) 2.36 7. GV: DELEGATION LEAVES BY CAR AFTER NEWS CONFERENCE (3 SHOTS) 3.00 Initials s.3 - p.3 Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.
- Embargoed: 3rd April 1997 13:00
- Location: TIRANA, ALBANIA
- Country: Albania
- Reuters ID: LVABKZSCCV3RR13JUKNVVBRBZJR7
- Story Text: INTRO: Hundreds of Albanian refugees have been accused of being criminals and escorted back to Albania by the Italian authorities.
-------------------------------------------------------------------- Italy's repatriation of "undesirables" began on Wednesday morning (March 19), as 290 Albanians were returned to their country.
Three giant Chinook helicopters, with paratroops on board, carried the refugees from the southeast Italian port of Brindisi into Tirana airport.
They were met by armed, uniformed police, while Italian special forces secured the airport, but were allowed to go free once they had been escorted from the airport.
Italy announced the emergency measures to cope with the flood of Albanian refugees.
They were adopted at a two-hour cabinet meeting on how to confront the crisis as a motley armada of decrepit boats continued to limp into southeastern ports carrying Albanians escaping the turmoil in their Balkan homeland.
The meeting confirmed that Italy would grant temporary shelter to genuine refugees but the statement said a cabinet decree law on the influx also contained provisions to repatriate "persons deemed to be a danger to public security".
Several escaped prisoners from jails stormed in Albania's unrest and suspected mobsters have used the latest exodus to slip into Italy, according to ministers.
Ministers said they had strong evidence that racketeers in the Albanian port of Durres had taken control of the exodus. Albanians say they have been charged up to 600 U.S. dollars each for a place on a boat.
The head of a European mission to Albania said on Wednesday the authorities in the troubled Balkan country had to improve the security situation before outside help could be offered.
Dutch diplomat Jan de Marchant et d'Ansembourg, heading the 11-strong European Union team, said they had discussed humanitarian aid, financial issues and the security situation, adding that they considered the last to be the most important.
"Our aim is to get aid in as quickly as possible, and we will make a priority list of things that can be done right away," he told a news conference, adding that he could not go into detail.
"A number of things are dependent on the security situation, so we need to concentrate on that as a matter of priority." Thousands of weapons are in private hands across Albania after the wholesale looting of weapons from army barracks, and the south is under the control of rebels seeking the removal of right-wing President Sali Berisha.
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