The Albanian ambassador to the UK has told MPs that his countrymen are being forced to cross the Channel illegally because they have no other legal options.
Albanians made up 42% of migrants crossing by small boat from May to September this year, with over 11,000 Albanians arriving during that time.
Ambassador Qirjako Qirko defended the illegal migrants’ actions, but was chastised by Home Affairs committee member Lee Anderson.
He repeatedly told MPs that his government has “no information” about an increase in Balkan migrants to the UK, and that the Home Office has not provided details.
Mr Qirko told the committee that Albanian migrants “don’t have the possibility” to apply for legal migration.
Pressed on the matter by Mr Anderson, who questioned: “Why can’t they just visit the country for £28 and then claim asylum?
“Why can’t they claim? Why can’t they travel on the plane for £28, ie, on a holiday, then claim asylum?”
Responding to the question, Mr Qirko said “I don’t have this information”.
Between January and September, 11,241 (35%) of the 33,029 arrivals in the UK were Albanians. This is a significant increase over the 3% recorded for the entire year of 2021.
When asked why the number of Albanians crossing the Channel has risen so dramatically this year, Mr Qirko responded, “Officially, my embassy, my government… have no information regarding this number.”
He insisted repeatedly that Albania is a “safe country,” telling MPs, “The problem appears to be that the people arriving here… they pretend to be victims of modern slavery.”
When asked if he believed all Albanians arriving were acting, he replied, “I don’t know.”