Women frontline pioneers working with migrants, asylum-seekers and refugees in Albania

- Stories of strong women in Albania

“Being a woman is not always easy. A lot is expected of us, in the family, in society and at work. Loving your job, treating the people you serve with dignity, putting passion and heart there makes the difference.”

Those are the words of Klara, who has been working with Albanian State Police since 2015.

Klara mother of eight-year-old boy has been working with Albanian State Police since 2015

 

The mother of an eight-year-old boy works at the Border Crossing Point, Kakavija, Gjirokastra, in the south of Albania where a Temporary Reception Center has been established by IOM in 2020 with EU support

Despite COVID – 19 she must perform her daily tasks in compliance with the required standards: processing travelers, including vulnerable migrants, victims of trafficking, and unaccompanied children. These people are then referred by Klara to receive appropriate services and protection.

The pandemic has posed challenges to all, and in particular to frontline staff, receiving and processing migrants. “We are there to quickly process, identify vulnerabilities and evaluate the situation to decide the best referral path to protection here in Albania”, she says.

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“Focus on the Solution”

 “Focus on the solution not the problem”. That’s the mantra of Eneda, a medical officer in the emergency department of the Regional Hospital in Gjirokastra.

She’s has been working there for five years, providing medical screening and health services to migrants at the Kakavija Border Crossing Point and in the temporary reception centre for migrants in Gerhot.

Eneda, a medical staff from Regional Health Hospital in Gjirokastra, working in the Emergency Department

“Assisting to refugees and asylum seekers is challenging in pandemic conditions, but the challenges are manageable when the team comes together and focuses on protection efforts for vulnerable individuals,” adds Eneda.

“We are challenged every day, and at the same time we are encouraged every day, by having the opportunity to help people in need, but being there to listen, offer information and basic needs to them. Our biggest reward is when we receive a smile back from other children, women and men, and elderly people. Every day I remind to myself that everyone could be in their place: me, my children, my family”.

Impact of project support and value of partnership

IOM has been supporting the Albanian authorities by  provided with clear Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) on detection, screening and management of ill travelers for Points of Entry approved by Albanian State Police; 62,000 pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE) have been donated to Albanian Government to ensure safe continuity of the activities;  installed and equipped medical ambulatory/COVID-19 isolation ward containers in the border crossing point; installation of accommodation containers and sanitary facilities for 18 people to align the facility with COVID-19 protocols in place in Albania followed with hand-washing stations were established and TV screens installed to continuously display information on COVID-19 measures. 

These actions aimed to protect migrants, asylum seekers, refugees and other vulnerable persons by ensuring that systems and services in place are supported, reinforced and can be quickly adapted to the measures that must be implemented in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.  Partnership and joint efforts are of significant importance while providing protection to vulnerable categories. Health, social services, civil society actors, NGOs and IOs all are coordinated through local mechanisms established at Prefecture level to ensure effective coordination and mobilization of resources. 

Written by
Author
Alketa Gaxha
Project Coordinator, IOM Albania
IOM
UN entities involved in this initiative
IOM
International Organization for Migration