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

Present situation
In November, we did not report any cases attributable to the blood feuds phenomenon. However, at the beginning of the month, the Albanian TV program “Fiks fare” had a great relevance in the media, showing the interview of a man who is moving to Germany by bus in order to apply for the asylum because of blood feud reasons. The unrecognizable passenger from Lezha affirms that he had to pay a significant amount of money to the prosecutor’s office, the judges and an association which deals with reconciliation, in order to obtain the documents attesting he is a blood feud victim.
On November 26th, a terrible and strong earthquake (magnitude 6.4 on the Richter scale) struck Albania, causing 51 victims and more than 750 injured. The Durrës area was the epicentre of the earthquake and the town of Thumanë was arshly hit. Albania, poorly equipped to deal with such a natural disaster, found itself in serious difficulty. The international solidarity of neighboring Countries – including Italy, Greece and Turkey, as well as all the Countries in the Balkan area – intervened quickly, sending human and economic resources. Furthermore, Kosovo genuinely offered hospitality for Albanian displaced people to reciprocate the hospitality offered by Albanian families to the Kosovar refugees during the 1999 war.
Immediately after the earthquake, Operazione Colomba volunteers worried about the families and friends who live in the most affected areas of Thumanë, Tirana and Durrës. Fortunately, despite several damages to homes and buildings, no victims are registered among the people we know, but all of them are very frightened and upset by the earthquake and the subsequent earthquake swarm.
Independence Day and Flag Day are celebrated in Albania on 28 and 29 November. Unfortunately this year they were celebrated quietly due to the earthquake that struck the Country.

In November, many home visits were made to families involved in the blood feuds phenomenon, mainly in Shkodër area. During the monitoring visits, the staff found that the conditions and the situations of many families have improved in several aspects in the last years: some families decide to abandon the purpose to avange and to overcome the stalemate to which the perpetuation of this social plague had forced them to live.
A difficult situation was found in a family that suffered serious grief last year. The victim’s brother resists with his parents the call for vendetta in a background where negative social pressure often pushes people to take revenge. He told us his troubles, also talking about his desire to be comforted and to stop undergoing pressure to avenge his brother’s death. Our presence, in these cases, offers the necessary neutral space for a young man to abandon the traditional role imposed by society and to share his worries and weakness with someone.
In November, two civil escorts were carried out in prison to allow two wives to meet their husbands, detained for murder committed for blood feuds reasons.
The activities of these months have been carried out also thanks to the support of the Bergamo Missionary Center.

Relationship with institutions and civil society
During this month, in Tirana we met a researcher from the London School of Economics interested in opening some lines of academic research related to the protection of the blood feuds victims. In addition, we carried on the collaboration with the Professor Brunilda Zenelaga, met at the Side Event in Geneva, who would like to involve university students attending her Social Science courses in a common project to monitor the Albanian media dealing with the blood feuds phenomenon.