Albanian navy extends help for EU‘s maritime border mission

By – Associated Press – Wednesday, December 26, 2018

TIRANA, Albania (AP) – ’s Defense Ministry has extended for a year its navy’s participation in the search-and-rescue operations of border control force .

Defense Minister Olta Xhacka on Wednesday said the mission, mainly in the Aegean Sea, will continue in 2019. ’s navy contributes one warship to the operations.

Xhacka said Albanian sailors have “saved thousands of human lives” during the last two years when refugees have tried to cross from Turkey to Greece.

It’s the first time , a NATO member since 2009, has taken part in the Western military alliance’s maritime missions.

Local media reported Wednesday that six Palestinian and three Syrian refugees were detained a day earlier while trying to cross on foot into southeastern , coming from neighboring Greece. They were questioned and sent to a shelter near the capital, Tirana.

Earlier in December, 18 other refugees from Syria, Morocco and Afghanistan were taken into the custody in the same location, all aiming to reach wealthier member countries.

Though not a preferred route, many migrants try to enter to move toward Northern Europe.

has signed an agreement allowing border guards to enter and help the Balkan country control illegal migration.

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