Migrant crossings: Record number of people enter country
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This comes as part of a crackdown by Home Secretary Priti Patel, after a surge in arrivals from Albania. The plan, which has been agreed upon by Ms Patel and her Albanian counterpart, is expected to speed up the removal of migrants from the Balkan state. According to a recently published UK intelligence report, Albanians now account for between 40 and 60 percent of migrants crossing the Channel in small boats.
Ms Patel said: “Large numbers of Albanians are being sold lies by ruthless people smugglers and vicious organised crime gangs, leading them to take treacherous journeys in flimsy boats to the UK.
“This abuse of our immigration system and people risking their lives cannot go on.
“Thanks to our excellent levels of co-operation with Albania, we will take every opportunity to speed up removals of Albanians with no right to be in the UK.”
An advertising campaign is being launched in Albania today by the Home Office to warn migrants in their own language that they can face up to four years in jail and deportation if they enter the UK illegally.
Ms Patel has also begun an overhaul of anti-slavery laws, claiming they are being used by Albanians to avoid deportation by claiming to be victims of trafficking.
Albanians are now the top nationality claiming to be victims of modern slavery, overtaking UK nationals, according to Government data.
Albanian Interior Minister Bledi Çuçi said the country “discouraged” such “illegal and dangerous practices” by migrants.
He confirmed he had discussed “mid-term” solutions with Ms Patel for legal migration routes for skilled professionals and other workers.
A record 1,295 migrants crossed the Channel on Monday, beating the previous daily high by more than 100 the Ministry of Defence (MoD) reported.
But human rights organisation Amnesty International has said that the high numbers of channel crossings are occurring as a result of a lack of safe and legal routes to reach the UK, calling on the Government to open up safer routes for those seeking asylum.
Steve Valdez-Symonds, Amnesty International UK’s Refugee and Migrant Rights Director, said: “It’s been chilling to see ministers coldly blaming desperate people simply for trying to reach safety.
“With there currently being no safe means of reaching the UK, those fleeing war and persecution have had no choice but to attempt these perilous crossings even though many people have died.
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“In global terms, the UK receives and provides safety to comparatively few refugees, yet the Home Secretary and her officials have tried to give the entirely false impression that the Channel crossings are some sort of national emergency.
“Instead of plans to criminalise people for seeking safety, the Government should be opening up safer routes for those seeking asylum – not raising the drawbridge and driving vulnerable people further into the hands of people-smugglers.”
Earlier this week, it was revealed that Albanian gangs have been offering migrants free minibus rides to the Channel in order to help them cross.
The gangs, advertising their services on social media platform TikTok, showed images of the minibuses and invited people to message the page to sign up.
Once passengers have signed up, the gangs then drive the migrants from Albania to trafficking gangs in France, where they can pay up to £5,000 per person to make the 22-mile journey across the Channel in a small boat, Albanian immigration sources told the Telegraph.
The TikTok advertisements promise “bargain” prices and Channel crossings that have “never been cheaper”.
Speaking to the Telegraph, an Albanian immigration source said: “The Albanian gangs provide the people and link up with the Kurds, who provide the boats and the logistics.”
They added: “There is huge poverty in Albania and they want to get to the UK for a better life and good employment.
“Most end up working in the black market, especially in construction.”
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