[:en]Albanians in Italy[:]


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[:en]A large part of the Albanian immigrants is in Italy, a land dreamed by many Albanians in the early 90s. But what story is behind this immigration flow? The Albani were an aristocratic Roman family, members of which attained the highest dignities in the Roman Catholic Church, one, Clement XI, having been Pope. They were ethnic Albanians who originally moved to Urbino from the region of Malësi e Madhe in Albania and had been soldiers of Scanderbeg against the Ottoman Empire. Though eventually assimilated in their Italian environment, Clement XI's Albanian antecedents were evident in his having commissioned, during his reign as a Pope, the famous Illyricum Sacrum. Today it is one of the main sources of the field of Albanology, with over 5000 pages divided in several volumes written by Daniele Farlati and Dom. Coletti. There is an Albanian community in southern Italy, known as Arbëreshë, who had settled in the country starting with the 15th and the 16th century and later, displaced by the changes brought about by the expansion of the Ottoman Empire. Some managed to escape and were offered refuge from the repression by the Kingdom of Naples and Kingdom of Sicily (both under Aragonese rule), where the Arbëreshë were given their own villages and protected. The Arbëreshë were estimated as numbering at a quarter million in the 1976.[3] After the breakdown of the communist regime in Albania in 1990, Italy had been the main immigration target for Albanians leaving their country. This exodus was fueled mainly by socio-economic instability, a looming fear of civil war, and lack of confidence in the democratization process in Albania. Around 3 weeks after the overturning of the regime, in March 1991, around 25,700 Albanians crossed the Strait of Otranto into Italy. Subsequently, in August 1991, another 20,000 migrants arrived in Bari Harbour aboard the Vlora. The Italian government classified such Albanians as “illegal economic migrants” and started repatriated them after a period of detention in special camps in Southern Italy. Albanian attempts to immigrate by sea caused the Italian government to deploy a considerable number of Italian soldiers along the coast of Puglia - directly facing Albania. Italy had been a symbol of the West for many Albanians during the communist period, because of its geographic proximity. Additionally, Albania past status as an Italian colony might have fueled immigration efforts into Italy specifically. Italy reacted to this migration pressure by introducing the "Martelli" law, stipulating that any immigrant who could prove that he or she had come into the country before the end of 1989 be granted a two-year residency permit. From March 1997, Italy instituted a strict patrol of the Adriatic in an attempt to curb Albanian immigration. As a result, many Albanian immigrants in Italy do not have a legal status. Out of an estimated 150,000 Albanian immigrants in Italy in 1998, only some 82,000 were registered with authorities. In total there are 800,000 Albanians in Italy. Italy also took efforts to alleviate the plight of Albanians in Albania. As a response to the Albanian political and refugee crisis in April 1997, in association with the United Nations, Italy led Operation Alba. This was a military-humanitarian mission involving 6000 Italian personnel. It was undertaken in order to deliver aid to the Albanian people. The Italian Government has housed significant numbers of Albanians from Kosovo in the Arbëresh settlements, most notably in Piana degli Albanesi in Sicily.[:]

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