Italian Ambassador, Alberto Cutillo and the Mayor of Tirana, Erion Veliaj, inaugurated a homeless shelter in the Albanian capital city. The centre forms part of the “Tirana Shelter for Homeless” project, which is managed by the Municipality of Tirana and supported by the Italian-Albanian Debt for Development Swap Programme.
The Italian government is waiving repayment of subsidised loans granted twenty years ago to the Albanian government, with both governments agreeing to use the amounts corresponding to said repayments for social development programmes. As Ambassador Cutillo said at the opening ceremony, the shelter provides a safe refuge where homeless persons can find a bed, a hot meal and basic social assistance. It was developed by renovating abandoned spaces and revitalising an obsolete former industrial facility.
Cutillo added “the Municipality of Tirana is working on multiple fronts, often joining forces with leading Italian public partners, to make the city more liveable and improve conditions for its inhabitants. However, no city can race towards development while leaving behind its most vulnerable groups, those who need more help and assistance than others to get back on their feet after experiencing all sorts of adverse situations. Places like this, and the solidarity of the entire city, can certainly make a big difference. The Municipality of Tirana and all Albanian municipalities can count on Italian support in these areas to defend essential human rights and provide support to the most vulnerable”.
The first stage of the debt for development swap programme funded 57 projects for a total of about 20 million euros. The Programme is scheduled to end in the next few months.
Ambassador Cutillo believes that the results achieved can serve as an incentive for Italy to continue to support similar projects.
“I hope that the interest in taking part in such projects will remain unchanged also through the second stage of the Programme which will hopefully start this year. One of the priorities of the Italian Cooperation Service in Albania is to support the implementation of social policies. It also plays a major role at a bilateral level to promote a balanced, solid growth” concluded Ambassador Cutillo.