The Parliament of Albania votes today on housing migrants waiting for asylum in Italy

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Albania's parliament is voting Thursday on a deal with Italy to keep thousands of migrants rescued in international waters by Italian authorities while their asylum claims are processed.

Under the five-year agreement, Albania will host up to 3,000 migrants at any one time. With the asylum request expected to take about a month to process, the number of asylum seekers sent to Albania could reach up to 36,000 in a year, AP reports.

Two processing centers will be set up in Albania at a cost to Italy of more than 600 million euros over five years.

With the Socialist Party of the Albanian Prime Minister, Edi Rama, which holds 74 of the 140 seats in the Parliament, the agreement is expected to pass. The president will then issue a decree as the final step of approval.

Italy's lower house of parliament approved the deal in January, followed by the Senate earlier this month.

The agreement, signed in November last year between Rama and Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, is part of Meloni's efforts to share the burden of handling migration with other European countries. It was approved by the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, but has been widely criticized by human rights groups.

The two facilities in Albania will be fully run by Italy, while this would speed up their asylum claims. Meloni has said he expects them to be operational by the spring of 2024. Italy will remain legally responsible for the migrants throughout the process.

Italy has asked for more solidarity from other European Union countries to help it cope with the growing number of migrants. The number of them arriving in Italy by boat had almost doubled to around 160,000 compared to the same period a year earlier.