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Italy migrant pact with Albania not same as UK/Rwanda deal— Italy’s FM

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Italy’s foreign minister, Antonio Tajani has insisted that his country’s recent plan to build migrant camps in Albania cannot be compared to Britain’s controversial bid to send irregular asylum seekers to Rwanda.

The minister maintained that requests would be handled to fully protect refugees’ rights. Italy will construct two camps in Albania to receive and detain up to 3,000 migrants at a time. This is the first time that a non-EU country has agreed to accept migrants on behalf of a member state.

“Migrants will be treated according to Italian and European standards,” Tajani told a session of the lower house of parliament dedicated to the deal, which sparked criticism among the leftist opposition and human right groups.

“This Protocol is not comparable to the agreement between the United Kingdom and Rwanda,” Tajani said, referring to the British initiative, which UK’s top judges have declared unlawful.

Like Britain, Italy is also facing growing pressure from migrants crossing the Mediterranean, with a surge in arrivals compared to 2022. Almost 150,000 people have landed in Italy so far in 2023, against around 10,200 in the same period last year.

Britain had announced its plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda at 169,000 pounds ($215,035) per person. The cost of deporting each person to Rwanda would include an average payment to Rwanda of 105,000 pounds for holding each asylum seeker, 22,000 pounds for travel and accompanying, and 18,000 pounds for processing and legal charges. But its apex court ruled the plan as illegal earlier this week.

Only migrants who are illegally in Italy would be sent to Albania, Tajani informed lawmakers, provided that the coast guard or navy picks them up in international waters and verifies that no minors or expectant mothers will be allowed to stay there. He says that up to 18 months could pass while someone is waiting to be returned home.

He further revealed that Italy would pay 16.5 million euros ($18.00 million) for the initial costs and would cover all other costs, including those associated with constructing and maintaining the centres.

“We hope it can be approved in a time frame that is consistent with the urgency of tackling the management of growing migration flows,” he said.

Musings From Abroad

US keen on expanding bilateral trade with Nigeria

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According to the US Consulate in Nigeria, it is looking for ways to guarantee prosperity for Nigeria by increasing bilateral trade and investment.

 

The Consulate, in a statement, maintained it was looking for ways to develop bilateral investment and trade as well as guarantee prosperity between the US and Nigeria.

 

Mike Ervin, the chief of the Political and Economic Section of the US Consulate in Lagos made this statement on Wednesday during a working visit to the governor of Abia State, Alex Otti, on Wednesday,

 

He noted that the consulate covers the 17 southern states of Nigeria; hence its mission “to expand bilateral trade and investment and ensure prosperity between the United States and Nigeria”.

 

“In the US consulate in Lagos, we cover the 17 southern states and our top job more than any other is to seek ways to expand bilateral trade and investment and expand shared prosperity between our people.

 

“Our people share a long history of partnership and that was highlighted by the visit of our Secretary of State, Anthony Blinkin, in Nigeria a couple of weeks ago, where he spoke eloquently and strongly on the significance and importance of US-Nigeria bilateral relationship. And our desire is to seek ways of expanding that relationship to build prosperity for our people,” he stated.

 

The petroleum/mining and wholesale trade industries account for the majority of foreign direct investment from the United States, which is the country that invests in Nigeria the most. The value of goods traded both ways in 2022 between the US and Nigeria exceeded $8.1 billion.

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Musings From Abroad

UN sanctions six Congolese rebels over crisis in its eastern region

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Six members of five armed organisations in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have been sanctioned by the United Nations Security Council as violence between the Congolese army and M23 Tutsi-led rebels, who are backed by Rwanda, has escalated.

 

The fighting in this decades-long battle has made it more likely that Rwanda and Congo could go to war, which might draw in armies from nearby countries like South Africa, Burundi, Uganda, Tanzania, and Malawi.

 

The Deputy U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Robert Wood, told a meeting of the 15-member Security Council that “The United States firmly supports the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the DRC and lasting peace for all Congolese people. Rwanda and the DRC must walk back from the brink of war.”

A travel ban, asset freeze, and arms embargo were placed on two leaders of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), one commander of the Twirwaneho armed organisation, and one leader of the National People’s Coalition for the Sovereignty of Congo (CNPSC) rebels by the Security Council’s DRC sanctions committee.

The military spokesman for the M23 Tutsi-led rebels, allegedly backed by Rwanda, and a leader of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), an organisation started by Hutus who left Rwanda after participating in the 1994 genocide that killed over 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus, were also placed on the UN list.

“These individuals are responsible for numerous abuses,” Wood said of the six sanctioned individuals.

After replacing a previous U.N. operation in 2010 to aid in reducing insecurity in the country’s east, Congo has been home to a UN peacekeeping force known as MONUSCO for more than 13 years.

Felix Tshisekedi, the president of the Congo, requested in September that the peacekeepers’ withdrawal be expedited, and the UN Security Council granted his request, allowing the deployment to terminate in December.

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