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Albania ready to temporarily house Afghan refugees, PM Rama says

Albanian PM and leader of the Socialist Party Edi Rama celebrates party's election victory, in Tirana
FILE PHOTO: Albanian Prime Minister and leader of the Socialist Party Edi Rama speaks at a rally celebrating the party’s election victory, at Skanderbeg Square in Tirana, Albania April 27, 2021. REUTERS/Florion Goga

August 15, 2021

PRISTINA (Reuters) -Albania has accepted a U.S. request to temporarily take in Afghan refugees seeking visas to enter the United States, Prime Minister Edi Rama said on Sunday, as Taliban forces entered the Afghan capital Kabul.

Rama said U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration had recently asked fellow NATO member Albania to assess whether it could serve as a transit country for a number of Afghan refugees whose final destination is the United States.

“We will not say ‘No’, not just because our great allies ask us to, but because we are Albania,” Rama said on his Facebook account.

This week, sources told Reuters that Biden’s administration had held discussions with such countries as Kosovo and Albania about protecting U.S.-affiliated Afghans from Taliban reprisals until they complete the process of approval of their U.S. visas.

In Kosovo, Luan Dalipi, Prime Minister Albin Kurti’s chief of staff, said his government has been in contact with the U.S. authorities about housing Afghan refugees since mid-July.

“There’s a lot of logistical, technical, security and social work that we are handling carefully,” Dalipi said in a statement.

Hundreds of U.S. troops are still stationed in Kosovo as peacekeepers more than two decades after the 1998-99 war with the then-Yugoslav security forces.

In 2014, Albania accepted some 3,000 members of the People’s Mujahideen Organization of Iran, also known by its Farsi name Mujahideen-e-Khalq, and they have settled in a camp near Durres, the country’s main port.

(Reporting by Fatos Bytyci; Editing by Aleksandar Vasovic and Hugh Lawson)

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