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In the News

Albania to UK Migration - What Are the Numbers and Why?

Vicki Woolven

9th November 2022

Earlier this year immigration minister Robert Jenrick has highlighted the number of Albanian migrants arriving in the UK this year, asking why they were leaving what he called a 'safe country'.

Headline figures:

  • In 2020, 50 Albanian migrants arrived on small boats
  • In 2021, 800 made the crossing
  • In 2022, 12,000 have arrived so far

This highlights a rapid increase in migrants from Albania - with around 10,000 being single, adult men.

In the first half of 2022 7,267 Albanian migrants submitted asylum applications - twice last year's figure.

Around 53% claims for asylum from Albanian migrants are accepted - but most of these are for women and children. Many of these asylum claims are linked to human trafficking.

In the year to June 2022, 7,267 asylum applications were submitted by Albanian migrants, double the number the previous year.

Why has there been an increase?

In a poll conducted in 2018, 60% of adults in Albania wanted to leave the country, citing corruption, low salaries, poor working conditions and a low quality of life as their main reasons. The median net average household income is a tenth of that in the UK. Currently Albania is involved in negotiations to join the EU - currently, Albanian citizens can enter the EU visa-free and stay for up to 90 days in any 180-day period as tourists - but they do not have an automatic right to work, study or live there.

Criminal gangs

A National Crime Agency (NCA) report published earlier this year said criminal gangs from Albania were responsible for importing industrial-scale cannabis farming to the UK, as well as being leading players in the UK's £5bn cocaine market, the NCA says.

Linked to this has been been a rise in anonymous accounts on TikTok advertising transfers of people from Albania to the UK - offering to take people to the UK from France on boats or from Belgium in lorries, at a cost of £2,000-5,000 each. As a result there have been numerous arrests of Albanians suspected of people smuggling.

However, Albanian prime minister Edi Rama has hit out at the UK government for ‘fuelling xenophobia’ towards migrants...

This is an interesting update to tradition UK/Eastern Europe migration case studies that tend to focus on Poland, and a stark reminder of the lucrative industry set up to exploit people who are desperately trying to leave their own country to improve their quality of life.

Vicki Woolven

Vicki Woolven is Subject Lead for Key Stage 4 Humanities at tutor2u. Vicki previously worked as a Head of Geography and Sociology for many years, leading her department to be one of the GA's first Centres of Excellent, and has been a content writer, senior examiner and local authority Key Practitioner for Humanities.

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