Home Office Stats Highlight How Puzzling No.10's Focus On Albanian Refugees Is

Home secretary Suella Braverman called some of the migrants "Albanian criminals".
Migrants at the Manston processing centre
Migrants at the Manston processing centre
Gareth Fuller - PA Images via Getty Images

New statistics from the Home Office prove that there’s only a small difference between the number of Albanians and Afghans who travel across the English Channel to the UK.

Breaking down the number of small boat arrivals by nationality between January and June this year, the Home Office found there were 2,165 Albanian refugees compared to 2,066 Afghans.

When taken as a percentage, those from Afghanistan and those from Albania work out to be 18% of the total number of migrant arrivals.

However, the government has been fixed on criticising the Albanian refugees recently in its bid to tackle the asylum seekers coming to British shores.

So people on Twitter are asking: why?

As media outlet Novara Media’s Ash Sarkar pointed out, there’s not a “huge difference” in the numbers.

She tweeted: “But the coverage of this past fornight has focused exclusively on people from Albania and not people from the country we invaded and then abandoned to the Taliban. Why?”

The Secret Tory, a popular but anonymous Twitter account which critiques the Conservatives, also asked “If 101 more Afghans than Albanians had arrived on small boats last year”, would the conversation have revolved around the country currently ruled by the Taliban?

Afghanistan has been ruled by the Taliban ever since the US and its allies – including the UK – pulled its forces out of the country last August, after 20 years.

The evacuation left a vacuum of power which the militant group quickly filled, prompting thousands of Afghans to try to leave their home country to escape the Taliban’s oppressive regime.

Amid the withdrawal of troops, many people who had aided the West were left behind, meaning they may have been targeted by the Taliban.

The UK officially opened its Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme in January this year, meant to prioritise those who have assisted the UK in Afghanistan and stood up for democratic values.

In August 2022, the UK had officially taken nearly 21,500 Afghans through the official routes.

Despite there only being 100 more migrants coming from Albania than Afghanistan during the first half of 2022, Albanians have faced the most criticism in recent weeks.

Home secretary Suella Braverman has considering a “bespoke route” with Albania to get failed asylum seekers removed from the UK faster.

Braverman also told MPs last week the UK has seen a “surge in the number of Albanian arrivals” and said that “many of them I am afraid to say abusing our modern slavery laws”.

In October, MPs were told that 12,000 Albanians had arrived in the UK after crossing the Channel so far this year, compared to 50 in 2020.

But, according to migrant charity Refugee Council, “for the vast majority of refugees, there is no safe way for them to seek asylum in the UK” – meaning they may be forced to enter the UK illegally.

Immigration minister Robert Jenrick defended the government’s focus on Albania, telling Sky News’ The Take with Sophy Ridge: “I want to have a constructive and productive relationship with our Albanian friends. That’s extremely important.

“But it is correct that a quarter of people who’ve come in small boats have come from Albania this year, and the NCA, our national crime organisation, has said that a very significant proportion of serious organised crime is emanating from those individuals.”

As Albania is a European country and part of Nato, and applying to join the EU, critics have cast doubt over how much refugees need to leave the country.

However, anyone fleeing home for a range of reasons is considered an asylum seeker. As Amnesty International points out, that this does not have to be because of war, but persecution, serious human rights violations and risks to their safety.


What's Hot