Minister of State for Relations with Parliament Elisa Spiropali stated that the operation to repatriate dozens of Albanian nationals from Syria has been suspended due to “the new geopolitical situation”.
Speaking in parliament yesterday she said that there are 28 Albanian children in Syria including Alvin Berisha. Spiropali claimed that the Al-Hawl camp he is interned in is safe and there is no danger to his life. She added that Albania is doing its best to return the women and children who are in the camp, despite, she claims, the fact that thee organisations that run the camps don’t want them to leave.
“Albania has always paid special attention to the Albanian fighters who participated in this conflict in Syria. The situation in Syria is complicated because it continues to be an area of conflict and the identification of Albanian nationals has been very difficult,” Spiropali said.
She added that many do not have documents, have changed their names, and have crossed borders illegally.
Then, Spiropali assured parliament that “institutions are doing their jobs professionally, quietly, and without fuss.”
Prime Minister Edi Rama was not present in Parliament to answer questions on the case, nor was acting Foreign Minister Gent Cakaj.
Five years ago, the child’s mother travelled to Syria to join ISIS, taking Alvin with her.
Afrim, the boy’s father has been searching for him and finally found him at the Al-Hawl camp in Syria. It was alleged that he had left the camp and his whereabouts are unknown, but it now appears the government know where he is. His father says he will travel to Syria to search for him.
The case came to light after investigative show “Le Iene” broadcast the story, alleging that his mother had died and he was being held with children and wives of ISIS fighters.
There was widespread outrage on social media, directed to the government and the Ambassador to Turkey, Gent Gazheli. According to some reports, Gazheli had agreed to help before telling Italian journalists he was unable to do so.
The day after the show was broadcast, Rama held a press conference regarding the setback in EU accession talks, but chose to address the matter of Alvin first. He said that neither Gazheli or the government was to blame as it is a complicated situation that is not under their control. He added that they had spoken to the child’s father and explained the situation, including the fact that it required negotiation to get them out.
The Albanian government is collaborating closely with the US and Turkey regarding the issue.