A Home Affairs select committee reports that there is “little evidence” Albanians are at risk and need asylum, as they come from a “seemingly peaceful country”, committee chairwoman and Labour MP Dame Diana Johnson stated.
They further cited the country’s status as a NATO ally and a candidate to join the EU as further evidence. As a result, the committee has come to the conclusion that it is unlikely that many of the Albanian migrants actually need asylum.
In a recent deal made between Albania and the UK, 1,800 “illegal migrants and foreign criminals” were sent back to Albania. This followed a rapid rise in the number of Albanian migrants entering the UK, with those arriving by small boat jumping from 800 people to nearly 12,300 people between 2021 and 2022.
Other MPs have suggested that many of the women seeking asylum have been trafficked and need protection. However, the report has proposed that the driving factor for others is likely better job opportunities and higher wages. As such MPs have recommended the government
promote seasonal work visas in agriculture and construction to allow Albanians the opportunities to enter the UK legally.
The MPs also recommended safeguards to be put in place before trafficking victims are returned to Albania.
‘Changes in migration will inevitably place strain on any system, but the government must do much more to ensure it can better handle these stresses,’ Dame Diana said. ‘While it is important that questions are asked and lessons are learnt, it is clear that the immigration picture is not static and will continue to evolve.’
In the past five months, the number of migrants from Albania has gone down by nearly 90% in comparison to last year. Part of this drop has been credited to its deal with the Albanian government. The Home Office has stated that now they accept 1 in 50 applicants rather than the 1 in 5 they previously accepted, which is in line with other European countries. The Home Office claims its “priority is stopping the boats” though it is looking for other ways to help improve the immigration process.