Albania is party to the 1951 UN Convention on the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol. In compliance with these international legal instruments, the government approved Law 8432 'On Asylum in the Republic of Albania', passed at the end of 1998, prompted by the inflow of Albanian refugees from neighboring Kosovo.
In 2001, a multi-agency Task Force on Asylum was established, followed by the approval in 2003 of three by-laws on education, health care and employment. In 2003 the Office for Refugees (OfR) operational in the Ministry of Local Government since 2001 was renamed as the Directorate for Refugees and transferred to the Ministry of Public Order (now MoI). It was only in 2006 that UNHCR passed the management of asylum applications over to the Albanian government. Asylum seekers are sent to the national reception centre near Tirana, operational since 2003 and run by the MoI's Directorate for Refugees. The lack of experience and resources has meant that progress is very slow in the field of asylum. For example, the EU commission evaluations showed that Albania could not be considered a safe third country as recently as 2007 because 'no coherent single asylum strategy [was] yet in place', while its 'protection regime for those granted asylum [remained] weak'.
As for statistics, they remain insignificant. According to UNHCR data, the stock of recognized refugees in Albania between 1990 and 2010 is 46,246 persons, nearly half of which were recognized in 1998 alone. In fact, numbers in the 1990s were at a constant of around 3,000 persons with the exception of 1997 which had only 30 refugees. Throughout the 2000s, however, numbers are mostly in double digits, with an average of 65 from 2004 onwards.