Operazione Colomba – monthly report of activities in Albania – August 2019

Present situation
Albania is still in a political situation of strong instability. Due to the ongoing party rivalries and the low representativeness of the last local elections in which only about 20% of the population went to the polls, the newly elected mayors are facing different difficulties. Especially in municipalities like Shkodër, where the incoming representatives belong to a party which is different from the one of the outgoing mayors, the takeover process is undergoing slowdowns and setbacks.
This month, a wound and two murders hit the public opinion. In Vlorë, 3 members of a family were wounded by gunfire from a man and his son because of a dispute for trivial reasons. In Fier, a 23-year-old man from Tropoja, was stabbed and killed by two peers for trivial reasons. In the center of Rreshen, a 48-year-old man was shot to death in front of his children. The reasons for the crime still remain to be clarified, but at the moment the police investigations follow two leads: blood feud, because the victim’s family is involved in a long-running conflict; or a mafia-type attack caused by drug trafficking in which the man was involved and for which he had just served a sentence of about a year.

In August, the arrival of Fabrizio, former project coordinator, and Giulia, the current project coordinator, enriched the group of volunteers, allowing to visit all the families in blood feud known and assisted by Operazione Colomba, since the opening of its presence in Albania. During the monitoring and greetings visits, several touching moments happened. Many families remembered when the volunteers entered their home for the first time. In that period, the situations were really tense and difficult, but the volunteers have always stood by them as victims of this social plague. “You arrived when I had just lost my daughter because of a feud: how many times you have been by my side in the darkest moments”, these are the words of gratitude from Monika. While visiting a lady involved in an intra-family feud, we listened to her speech: “you came into my house the moment I needed it most. Even during the night I couldn’t sleep for all the thoughts and worries caused by the problem of vendetta. I prayed and entrusted the Lord and the Lord answered me by sending all of you. Through your words, you have always nourished my spirit, supporting me and giving me hope”.
Furthermore, this month some visits were aimed at supporting those who have lost a loved one, because of the blood feud phenomenon, and are doing their utmost within their own family to avoid a vendetta. In particular, our words have brought comfort to the family of Gjergji, who recently lost a brother beacuse of a murder committed for trivial reasons. Our visits allow him, on the one hand, to take his mind off the surrounding context where social pressure is negative and, on the other, to nourish his will to build a peaceful future. Furthermore, we went to see Mirela, a lady who suffered a lot in her life, mainly because of her son’s murder. Our presence helps her to have a pressure valve to channel and express her emotions positively.
In August, the visits showed that these families see emigration abroad as one of the main solutions and escape routes from the stalemate in which the Country continues to find itself because of the Albanian political and economic crisis.
This month, some civil escorts were also carried out to allow two women to meet their husbands, who are detained in prison for committing crimes related to the phenomenon.
At the end of the month, we warmly greeted and thanked Pietro who concluded 6 months of civil service in Albania, supporting all the project activities. We also said goodbye to Margherita, who brought creativity and great participation in the project this month.

Relationship with institutions and civil society
In August, we carried on the dialogue with the local representative of the Association Trentino con i Balcani. In this way, it was possible to share ideas in order to plan the realization of a series of meetings with local institutions where Operazione Colomba will spread the good practice gained in these years of activity, dedicated to fight the blood feud phenomenon. Furthermore, this month we kept in touch with a Spanish journalist interested in getting information about the consequences of the use of Kanun law on the life of those involved in it. Finally, we had a meeting about the current Albanian socio-political situation with Nicola Pedrazzi, a journalist of Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso Transeuropa.