More than 40 Albanian migrants who tried to enter Britain across the English Channel have arrived back in their home country after being deported from the UK.
A Home Office removal flight containing 42 people was seen landing at Tirana International Airport Mother Teresa in the Albanian capital, after leaving the UK earlier today.
Photographs taken at Tirana airport on Thursday showed British Border Force officials unloading people from a plane. The Home Office did not immediately respond toThe Independent‘s request for comment.
Rishi Sunak said last week announced the government would fast-track removals of Albanian asylum seekers from Britain to their home country.
The new deportation deal with Albania is part of a five-point plan to try and reduce small boat crossings across the English Channel, which has doubled in two years.
Upwards of 10,000 Albanians have arrived through this route to seek asylum this year, making up nearly a quarter of the record 44,000 people who made the dangerous journey across the busy waterway.
More than half of Albanian asylum claims in the UK were granted in the year up to September, a Home Office minister told parliament last week.
Analysis revealed by The Independent found 86 per cent of Albanians granted asylum in Britain in the year to June 2022 were women, whose leave to remain was given on the basis that they were likely to have been trafficked and in genuine need of protection.
Mr Sunak said in his announcement: “Over the coming months, thousands of Albanians will be returned home, and we will keep going with weekly flights until all the Albanians in our backlog have been removed”.
He added that the “vast majority” of Albanian nationals arriving in the UK without visas will be removed immediately to their homeland, which is a designated “safe country”.
After Thursday’s removal, a source from the Home Office told MailOnline: “These Albanian criminals are back where they belong – in their home country. They committed serious crimes in the UK and therefore have no right to remain here. The government makes no apologies for their removal.
“We will continue to crack down on foreign criminals and those who should no longer be here.”
The government has been pushing attempts to prosecute more asylum seekers for piloting small boats, despite mounting calls for safe and legal alternatives to the dangerous crossings.
The High Court this week ruled that asylum seekers could be prosecuted for steering their own dinghies across the Channel, following an earlier ruling that the government’s plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda was lawful.