One in three migrants crossing English Channel in small boats is Albanian
Albanians accounted for just over a third of people detected crossing the English Channel in small boats in the first nine months of the year, new figures have shown. They also made up nearly half of those detected in July to September.It is a sharp increase on previous years, with only 3% of arrivals in 2021 being of Albanian nationality, and just 1% in 2020.The figures, which have been published by the Home Office, show there were 33,029 small boat arrivals in the UK from January to September this year.Of this total, 11,241 (35%) were Albanian nationals.Almost all of these have arrived since May.
Albanians have shed light on how easy it is to enter the UK illegally for a better life with higher pay, with one explaining how he thwarted the visa system to be able to live in Britain for three years. It comes as the Home Secretary admitted to a parliamentary committee yesterday that the Government had failed to control the country's borders amid a massive influx of undocumented migrants.
While honest about the economic pull factor of coming to the UK, local politicians said it was the UK Government's visa system that was pushing workers to make the treacherous channel crossing, as well as the ease through which Albanians are able to travel through EU countries.
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Ilirian Zeqaj (pictured), 50, allegedly shot two men in the Albanian village of Cakran in 1999, but slipped into the UK in the back of a lorry five months later.Ilirian Zeqaj, 50, allegedly shot two men in the Albanian village of Cakran in 1999, but slipped into the UK in the back of a lorry five months later and claimed asylum under the name Klemend Zeqaj after falsely telling officials he was a Kosovan refugee.
Geri Bucr, a resident of Burrel, in central Albania, was able to use a string of cunning lies to dupe immigration officers, he claimed.
He reportedly paid £4,000 to organised criminals to obtain a "genuine" Italian passport, despite not speaking the language, and was able to fly straight to the UK.
Rather than fly directly from Milan - where his confected passport may arouse suspicions - he flew from Croatia to London.
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He said: "I knew people were using trucks and boats were just starting to be the new way across but they were expensive and they are also dangerous so my way was cheaper and safer.
"Once in London I told the UK officials that my life was in danger and I was the victim of a feud, with people trying to kill me. It was just rubbish and they let me in for three years.
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"I used the false Italian passport to get into the country and then claimed asylum in my own name. I lived in Ealing Broadway and I got work there in some restaurants and building sites, I had a good time and I was earning good money."
The 25-year-old told the Mail that in the UK he was able to earn ten times the amount he is able to in his Albanian hometown, provided there is work available.
Mr Bucr would not say how he became known to the UK Border Force, but it was suggested he became involved in crime while in Britain, something for which he expressed remorse.
As a candidate country for EU membership, Albanians are already granted free travel across member states without hindrance.
Another Albanian in the town, who did not wish to disclose his name, said he had also travelled to the UK for work, using a smuggler across the Channel, before being deported in a raid by immigration officers in Oxford.
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An Albanian illegal migrant who forced his way into the Dover home of Sue Doyle, 59, contacted Rezart Balesi, 40, an Albanian living in Greater Manchester, who has been convicted of violent affray.The boy had entered the house shortly after arriving on Dover Beach among about 40 asylum seekers on a flimsy dinghy which had crossed the Channel.
He said: "I can get to France easily because there are no visa requirements because Albania is applying to join the European Union.
Yesterday, Ms Braverman admitted to the Home Affairs Select Committee that the Government had failed to control the UK's borders.
Ralf Gjoni, a former MP in Albania who now manages a firm that provides legal workers to the UK, said the British visa system was to blame for the soaring number of people from his country who were travelling to Britain's shores through illegal means.
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Home Secretary Suella Braverman vowed to bring down migration after overall numbers hit a record high of 504,000.After the number of residents who left the country is taken into account, the population has risen by 504,000, a record hike from a high that outstrips the high of 330,000 recorded in 2016.
He commented: "It is unfair to blame the Albanians for the current situation. Britain has failed to handle Brexit properly and now there are shortages in the workforce for drivers, nurses, IT people and care workers and they don't have the people to fill these vacancies.
"If the work visa [regime] was better handled then the result would be much better, but the Home Office has failed to liberalise it and so you get an increase in the numbers crossing illegally."
A Home Office spokesperson said: "We value our Albanian community in the UK, and continue to welcome Albanians who travel to the UK legally and contribute to British society.
"However, this year we are seeing large numbers of Albanians risking their lives and making dangerous and unnecessary journeys to the UK through illegal means, and this is placing further strain on our asylum system.
"With co-operation from the Government of Albania, we are taking every opportunity to intercept the work of organised criminal gangs and people smugglers, and speeding up the removal of Albanians with no right to be in the UK."