Defending Migrants Rights and Dignity in Albania for 25 Years

International Migrants Day

Tirana – International Migrants Day (18 December) in Albania was celebrated with a high-level function attended by the country’s President, senior ministers and diplomats, who joined Regional Director Argentina Szabados to mark 25 years of IOM’s presence in the Balkan country.

President Ilir Meta led over 300 guests at a red-carpet reception in the centre of the capital Tirana, where a new three-year national migration strategy, elaborated with technical assistance from IOM, was launched.

“Migration is the defining trend in today’s world,” declared Szabados, noting the ongoing and complex population movements in the Western Balkans. “While Albania has not been as affected by the migration crisis as its neighbours, migration is still a dominant theme, with one third of your population living outside your borders, remitting more than 600 million Euro every year.”

She congratulated the Government and its partners on their constructive focus on the issue of migration, which she said reflected the spirit of cooperation and multilateralism which brought the Global Compact for Migration into existence.

Addressing the gathering, President Meta revisited themes he addressed in his speech to the special United Nations meeting in Marrakesh, Morocco earlier this month, when the Global Compact for Migration was formally adopted.

“All countries, whether origin, transit or destination, are touched by migration,” he said, adding that Albania’s experience showed that “we can only treat this phenomenon in partnership, because it is a very difficult and complex process. It is about human rights, children's rights, border management, financial costs, social cohesion, and sovereignty.”

The President cautioned against “allowing ourselves to be weakened by human mobility. Rather, we need to be empowered by creating a more humane, more dignified and secure mechanism to govern migration.”

IOM Albania’s Head of Office, Alma Jani, presented partners, including the EU, government officials, UN and NGOs with commemorative plaques.

Closing the event, Regional Director Szabados stressed the theme of International Migrants Day:

“Migrants rights are the same as ours, and on International Migrants Day we are calling for all migrants to be treated with dignity and respect for their human rights.”

For more information please contact Joe Lowry at the IOM Regional Office in Vienna, Tel: +43 660 377640, Email:

  • President Ilir Meta with IOM Albania head of office Alma Jani and Regional Director Argentina Szabados at a reception in Tirana on Tuesday night to commemorate 25 years of IOM presence in Albania. Photo: IOM