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Albanian small boat migrants fast-tracked out of Britain just days after crossing the Channel

Albanian boat migrants are fast-tracked home in days as officials confirm 11 were flown back in pilot scheme

  • Albanian migrants have been turned away days after crossing the Channel
  • The Home Office confirmed 11 Albanians were sent home on a charter plane 
  • It’s understood the group refused to claim asylum after arriving from France 
  • The decision comes after Priti Patel secured a ‘rapid removal’ deal with Albania 

Albanian small boat migrants have been fast-tracked out of Britain just days after crossing the Channel.

The Home Office confirmed 11 Albanians were sent home on a charter plane last week as part of a pilot scheme.

When the migrants arrived from northern France earlier this month they were taken to a former RAF airbase at Manston, Kent, which is being used to process Channel migrants.

It is understood they refused to claim asylum and, as a result, were told by immigration officers that they were liable for immediate removal.

The 11 were driven to Stansted airport, where they boarded a charter flight to Tirana, sources said.

The Home Office confirmed 11 Albanians were sent home on a charter plane last week as part of a pilot scheme. Pictured: Migrants crossing the Channel

The development – which could mark a major breakthrough in tackling the Channel crisis – came seven weeks after former home secretary Priti Patel secured a landmark deal with her Albanian counterpart for a ‘rapid removal’ scheme.

Although that project has not yet been finally ratified it is believed renewed cooperation with the Tirana government played a role in the removal of the 11 Albanians.

The number of Albanians arriving across the Channel surged at the start of the summer. They now make up 60 per cent of arrivals from northern France.

In all, nearly 37,000 small boat migrants have reached British soil since the start of the year – and at least 10,000 of those are believed to be Albanian.

Before the summer, around nine out of ten Albanians were claiming asylum – even though there has been no conflict for more than 25 years in the Balkan state, a Nato ally which aspires to join the European Union.

The number of Albanians arriving across the Channel surged at the start of the summer. They now make up 60 per cent of arrivals from northern France. Pictured: Migrants waiting for assistance as they tried to cross the Channel

The number of Albanians arriving across the Channel surged at the start of the summer. They now make up 60 per cent of arrivals from northern France. Pictured: Migrants waiting for assistance as they tried to cross the Channel

Rwanda gets extra £20m for stalled asylum deal 

Britain has paid the Rwandan government an extra £20million for the stalled asylum deal – even though not a single migrant has yet been deported.

Immigration minister Tom Pursglove said the sum was for ‘initial set-up costs’, on top of £120million in April. The new sum will pay for caseworkers, translators and other costs including accommodation. Under the plan, some migrants will be given a one-way ticket to Rwanda to claim asylum there.

However, the project is in legal limbo. Home Secretary Suella Braverman has said the first flight will not leave for at least a year.

A Home Office spokesman said: ‘Doing nothing is not an option when people are dying and a radical new approach is needed.’

But the proportion applying for asylum is thought to have fallen, as they are deterred by the Government’s scheme to send claimants on a one-way trip to Rwanda.

When Miss Patel launched the fast-track scheme in August sources suggested that in some cases Albanians could be sent back ‘within hours’. Senior police officers from the Balkan country came to Britain to assess how they could work alongside UK immigration officials.

The deal also involves more sharing of forensics and biometrics, as well as ‘covert and overt operational tactics’.

Separately, officials in Tirana agreed to receive planes at short notice. Miss Patel said at the time of the announcement: ‘It is shameful and absurd that so many Albanian nationals are entering the UK via small boats when their home country, Albania, is a safe country.’

The Home Office has also launched a campaign to deter Albanians travelling illegally to the UK.

A poster shows migrants in a dinghy with the words, in Albanian: ‘You could face up to four years in jail and deportation for coming to the UK illegally.’

The advert pops up on social media feeds as Albanian-language speakers pass through parts of northern France and Belgium, before migrants attempt a Channel crossing.

A Home Office spokesman said: ‘We urge anyone who is thinking about leaving a safe country and risking their lives at the hands of people smugglers to urgently reconsider. Despite the lies they have been sold, they will not be allowed to start a new life here.’

Last month it was confirmed by UK government lawyers that the fast-track plans will not apply to Albanians who lodge asylum claims here.

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