SEMAN (Albania) (AFP) – Communist-era Albanian bunkers were supposed to withstand a nuclear strike, but decades later the fortifications are devoured by sea as the country’s coastline is battered by erosion.
<p>Les rives du pays des Balkans sont parmi les plus touchées d'Europe par l'érosion, selon les experts, qui accusent le changement climatique et l'urbanisation incontrôlée d'être le fléau.
Along the shores of Seman in central Albania, numerous bunkers built under the leadership of former dictator Enver Hoxha – who feared an imminent invasion by the United States, the Soviet Union and China, between others – are now underwater.
The same goes for the police station, a sports field and an oil well.
On the beaches, tree trunks have been torn off, while collapsed roofs testify to the powerlessness of the population facing the ever-moving sea.
“The bunkers were supposed to withstand anything but they failed in their one and only battle,” Ilir Zani, 80, told AFP.
According to locals, the Adriatic has advanced 800 meters (half a mile) through this area in the past three decades alone.
Izmir Mernica, 47, a resident of Seman, fears his coffee will be next.
“We are worried, the sea is swallowing everything up,” he said, pointing to a water tower now stranded in the middle of the Adriatic.
“The waves will swallow us up”
In 2009, authorities relied on military tanks to remove seven submerged bunkers from the sea following a series of drownings caused by eddies created by the currents around the structures.
More than a decade later, the bunkers are back underwater.
The sea “took them back,” says Mernica.
</div>Selon des experts en changement climatique travaillant pour le Programme des Nations Unies pour le développement (PNUD), plus d'un tiers des 427 kilomètres de côtes albanaises (265 milles) sont touchés par l'érosion, à un taux d'environ un à deux mètres (trois à sept pieds ) par an.
Abdulla Diku, an environmental specialist, said that for every hectare of land, around 27 tonnes of soil are lost each year by rising tides, which is around 11 times the average for other European countries.
In Qerret, in central Albania, Vlash Moci still maintains his bunker, which once housed anti-aircraft guns and is now a bar that attracts foreign tourists.
Moci, 64, fears rising tides will soon claim his belongings, with the nearby bunker – a pale green structure that resembles a flying saucer – already on the verge of being consumed.
“We are afraid that one day big waves will engulf us. It’s terrible, ”he told AFP.
In response, owners of neighboring villas and hotels in Qerret have started building illegal jetties perpendicular to the sea.
But experts say the measures only exacerbate the situation.
“Hot spot of erosion”
“These are individual solutions that worsen the problem and harm biodiversity and marine ecosystems,” warns Mirela Kamberi, an expert at UNDP.
</div>Avec peu d'efforts pour arrêter les marées montantes, la mer semble être irrésistible dans un avenir prévisible.
Due to climate change, experts predict that the sea level in Albania will rise by 40 to 105 centimeters (16 to 41 inches) by 2100, compared to the changes recorded between 1986 and 2005.
To add to the country’s woes, deforestation has also taken its toll, as unregulated dredging of sand from rivers has accelerated their course and uncontrolled urban development along the coast has damaged the region’s natural defenses.
“The problem is, people have cut down almost all the trees to build buildings, damaging natural systems,” says Besnik Zara, 66, as he throws a fishing rod into the sea.
And in the Shupal Mountains near Tirana, it’s easy to see the erosion damage further inland, most of which has been caused by deforestation and the rivers that feed a nearby reservoir.
This lake, which supplies the capital with drinking water, “is already considered a hot spot for erosion,” says Diku.
To cope, authorities banned the cutting of more trees in the region’s forests in 2016.
They also pledged to implement promises made at the United Nations climate conferences in Paris and Glasgow and began to pass new legislation.
</div>"Le crime environnemental sera traité par le code pénal comme un crime contre la vie, la propriété ou au même titre que le crime organisé", a prévenu le ministre de l'Intérieur Bledi Cuci. <p class="t-copyright">© 2021 AFP</p> </div>