Albanian Parliament approves controversial deal to hold migrants for Italy

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TIRANA, Albania (AP) — Albania’s Parliament on Thursday approved a deal for the country to hold thousands of migrants rescued in international waters by Italy while their asylum applications are processed, despite protests from opposition lawmakers and human rights groups.

The Parliament, dominated by Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama’s left-wing Socialist Party, voted 77 to zero to approve the deal, with no abstentions, as conservative opposition lawmakers tried to disrupt the vote with whistles. The president will also issue a decree as the final step of approval.

Conservative lawmakers have repeatedly disrupted voting since October to protest the Socialist government.

Under the five-year deal, Albania would hold up to 3,000 migrants at any one time in two processing centers while their asylum requests are processed, for periods of around a month.

The deal has worried many human rights activists, while the European Union sees the agreement as a possible future template.

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