The UK on Thursday vowed to speed up removals of Albanians illegally entering the country as official statistics showed they were now the largest single group making small-boat crossings of the Channel.
A total of 2,165 Albanians made the dangerous crossing from northern France during the first six months of 2022, compared with 815 during the whole of 2021.
In previous years, asylum seekers from war zones made up the vast bulk of small-boat arrivals.
The Home Office said it had reached an agreement with the government in Tirana to “expedite removals of Albanians from next week following growing numbers taking treacherous journey on small boats.”
Albania will send senior law enforcement officers to the UK to assist rapid removals.
“Those coming from Albania – a safe and prosperous country – are travelling through multiple countries to make the journey to the UK,” the Home Office said in a statement.
“Many then make spurious asylum claims when they arrive.”
“People coming through this route will have claims processed immediately, with those who have no right to be in the UK being removed as soon as possible.”
Home Secretary Priti Patel said Albanians making the journey “are being sold lies by ruthless people smugglers and vicious organized crime gangs.”
A total of 12,747 people were detected arriving in the UK by small boats in January to June, more than double the number in the same six months in 2021, the figures showed.
Of those, 2,066 were Afghans, 1,723 Iranians and 1,573 Iraqis.
There were notably higher numbers of arrivals in January, March and April.
The illegal crossing are a hot political topic in the UK, with both candidates to become the new prime minister promising to clamp down.
A single-day record of 1,295 migrants were detected making the crossing on Monday, as part of a huge spike in numbers in July and August due to good weather.
The government’s plans to send some of those arriving in the UK on small boats to Rwanda to claim asylum have so far been stymied by the courts.
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