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Spanish army
Ministry of Defence
Spanish army

Ejército de Tierra

OPERATION ALFA-ROMEO

In response to the request made by the Government of Albania to the Atlantic Alliance for aid to the huge numbers of refugees coming from Kosovo, this organisation undertook a humanitarian aid operation in Albania.

As part of the solidarity shown by Spain with regard to this humanitarian catastrophe, on 16th April 1999 the Prime Minister's Cabinet authorised the participation of Spanish military units in the NATO Multinational Force (AFOR) to deploy in Albania.

In consequence, the Defence Ministry detached to Albania an Army force that was transported on the Navy ships "Aragón" and "Pizarro" and put into harbour at Durres on 25th April, with the mission of constructing a refugee camp with the capacity to shelter up to 5,000 people.

This was the force organisation:

  • Command and Staff.
  • One light Infantry Co. (with 1 platoon in a wheeled armoured vehicle (BMR))
  • One communications unit
  • One engineer unit
  • One logistic support unit
  • One medical support unit
  • One CIMIC team
  • A transport helicopter unit (UHEL).

The camp was installed in Hamallaj, a locality near the Durres port. New modules capable of sheltering 4,920 people were constructed, in ten person conical tents, which each lodged a single family.

Helicopter support was also provided for the transport of people and cargo, for the benefit of both the CRF and AFOR. A total of 33 missions were carried out, transporting 1,225 passengers and 18,580 kg. of cargo, with a total flight time of 176.5 hours.

On 16th June the camp was transferred to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (ACNUR), which in turn transferred its management to the Spanish Red Cross and Spanish "Cáritas".

After the normalisation of the situation in Kosovo, the refugees gradually began leaving the camp and returning to their homes. On 13th June the facility was closed and the force returned to national territory.