July 15. 2024. 7:12

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Albania extends protection for Ukrainian, Afghan refugees

Albania has decided to extend the protection deadline for Afghan refugees in the country until 24 August, and Ukrainian refugees until September of this year.

In the summer of 2021, Albania opened its borders to more than 2,000 Afghans fleeing their country after the Taliban seized control. They were put up firstly in university dormitories and then hotels while their visas for other countries, such as the US and Canada, were processed.

Most of the refugees were working for international organisations, local NGOs, academics, journalists, or those working with links to NATO.

Then, after Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, Albania welcomed hundreds of Ukrainian women and children, predominantly in the Plazh area of Durres, the biggest coastal city.

On Thursday, the government approved the extension of the deadline for both decisions facilitating the refugees’ stay. It is not clear at this stage if it will be extended again.

In June 2022, EURACTIV interviewed Afghan refugees staying in the coastal city of Shengjin, who, almost a year later, were still waiting for their visas to be processed. Many have sought jobs in the local area, including in security and hospitality in a bid to have a semblance of normalcy while they wait.

Figures on exactly how many remain in Albania are currently unavailable.

(Alice Taylor | Exit.al)