Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Europe

Spike in Albanian nationals traveling to Britain on small boats

LONDON — Albanian nationals now make up more than half of all migrants who arrive in the U.K. on small boats across the English Channel, after a huge spike in numbers this summer.

Home Office figures released Thursday revealed 2,156 Albanians were recorded arriving in the U.K. in the first six months of 2022, out of a total of 12,747 people — compared with just 23 Albanians in the same period of the previous year.

But even those figures fail to capture the most recent summer spike. The department said the total number of Albanians to have arrived so far this year is now close to 6,000 and still rising quickly, with nearly six out of 10 migrants in small boats now holding Albanian nationality.

More than half of Albanian asylum applicants — 53 percent — were granted asylum by the Home Office in the year to June, suggesting many are genuine refugees. Those arriving during the huge spike in recent weeks have not yet had their applications processed.

The Home Office said the spike in the numbers of Albanians arriving in recent weeks could be explained by a combination of factors, including family pull and specific targeting by people smugglers.

After law enforcement officials launched a crackdown on people-smuggling routes across the Continent, organized crime gangs opened up a new Balkan way into Europe via Albania, which has itself experienced a leap in arrivals from those fleeing conflict or poverty in the Middle East, North Africa and Asia.

Unlike undocumented migrants from outside Europe, Albanian citizens benefit from freedom of movement throughout the EU, which facilitates their journey across the Continent toward various coastal locations in northern France.

“The significant increase of people making dangerous small boats crossings continues to pressurize the U.K.’s asylum system and our ability to make timely casework decisions,” said Simon Baynes, minister for illegal migration, insisting those traveling through countries deemed “safe” should claim asylum there.

As the data was released, Home Secretary Priti Patel announced a deal with the Albanian government to accelerate removals of Albanian nationals who do not have permission to stay in the U.K. A delegation of Albanian state police officers will visit the U.K. next week to boost joint working.

Albanians were rarely seen on small boats in previous years, the Home Office said, with only 898 arrivals in the three years between 2018 and 2021.

As happens every summer, the warm and dry weather has encouraged crossings throughout July and August — but this year arrivals are reaching new highs. Monday alone saw a record 1,295 people in 27 boats being intercepted by British authorities.

More than 22,560 people have crossed the Channel in small boats so far this year, and U.K. officials fear the annual figure will surpass last year’s total of 28,526 by a significant amount.

The boats are also now carrying more passengers, increasing their risk of capsizing, according to U.K. officials who said there were an average of 44 people per dinghy this summer — up from 28 last year.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You May Also Like

Europe

This week’s episode comes to you from the Albanian capital of Tirana where EU leaders met with Western Balkan hopefuls. And we dive into...

Europe

DUBLIN — If you’re a Northern Ireland Assembly member, the cost of political failure at Stormont will be around 800 quid a month. Secretary...

Europe

Belgium’s highest court on Thursday suspended a controversial treaty on prisoner exchanges which could allow an Iranian diplomat convicted of terrorism in Belgium to...

Europe

Croatia will join Europe’s Schengen visa-free travel zone on January 1. Romania and Bulgaria, however, will have to wait. The Council of the EU, which...

Europe

EU countries have become increasingly violent toward migrants and asylum seekers at their borders, a report by the Border Violence Monitoring Network launched this...

Industrial Policy

Press play to listen to this article Voiced by artificial intelligence. About 28 million people across Europe are doing platform work. It’s easy to...

Energy

This article is part of POLITICO’s Global Policy Lab: Living Cities, a collaborative journalism project exploring the future of cities. Chapter 3 of the project...

Technology

People in Europe can get Google to delete search results about them if you they prove the information is “manifestly inaccurate,” the EU’s top...