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Letter: Crime and chaos are undermining Albanian society

Sir: Andrew Gumbel's reporting from Albania yet again highlights the seriousness of the situation facing the country ("Albania heads back to chaos", 21 May).

I have just returned from a visit to Oxfam's projects in Albania, where "relative calm" may prevail, but at what cost and for how long? Parts of the country are now under the control of organised criminals with clear links to the international mafia. The chaotic and lawless situation has facilitated the rapid expansion of drug production and trafficking, the gains of which can be traded easily for guns. State benefits have been frozen for months and children sell bullets at the roadside.

In the north, families have set up night vigils to protect their lives and in one rural area criminals have taken refuge, making it impossible for Oxfam to operate.

This is not a time for the international peace force to withdraw but for its mandate to be better defined so that it is of real use to this fragile country.


Regional manager, East Europe