Channel migrants who reach Britain could be fast-tracked to an off-shore processing centre in Albania, it was reported last night.
Ministers are discussing opening an asylum centre in the eastern European country, which they believe would act as a deterrent for migrants crossing from northern France.
Anyone seeking asylum in Britain after arriving by illegal routes, such as in dinghies and small boats, would be flown out to the new centre within seven days, the Times said.
However, the project would cost the British taxpayer £100,000 per migrant for flights and accommodation.
‘Off shore processing is our best hope now, as nothing else is working,’ an unnamed minister told the newspaper.
Earlier reports of plans for offshore processing centres including using disused oil rigs in the North Sea – which were mooted last year – ultimately proved fruitless.
But the likelihood of sealing a deal with Tirana were now ‘looking good’, a UK government source said, despite Albanian foreign minister Olta Xhacka rubbishing the idea just last month.
The latest development in the migrant crisis comes after Home Secretary Priti Patel vowed earlier this week to stop ‘100 per cent’ of Channel crossings from France.
But her claim that she had agreed the plan with French counterpart Gerald Darmanin was then contradicted by Paris yesterday.
On Tuesday, around 80 migrants were pictured climbing into inflatable dinghies in northern France before they were pushed into the sea and began their journey to Britain.
A total of 1,185 people crossed the channel last Thursday, eclipsing the previous daily high of 853. Overall this year, there have been more than 20,000 crossings.
Channel migrants who reach Britain could be fast-tracked to an off-shore processing centre in Albania, it was reported last night. Above: Migrants arriving in Kent earlier this week
Ministers are discussing opening an asylum centre in the eastern European country, which they believe would act as a deterrent for migrants crossing from northern France
In response to news about the plan to open an asylum centre in Albania, a Home Office spokesman said: ‘Migrants making these dangerous crossings are putting their lives at risk and it is vital we do everything we can to prevent them and break the business model of the criminal gangs exploiting people.
What happens to migrants after they have arrived in the UK?
Migrants who have been picked up after landing or intercepted at sea are taken to a Border Force processing centre, such as Tug Haven near Dover.
Here arrivals are triaged to identify any medical needs or vulnerabilities, fed and checked to see if they have a criminal record. Adults have an initial interview before being sent to accommodation centres across Britain, paid for by UK taxpayers and provided by private contractors.
The migrants are given £37.75 per week for essentials like food, clothes and toiletries while they wait for a decision on their asylum application. If the claim is rejected they face deportation back to their home country.
Kent County Council normally takes unaccompanied children into its care, although other local authorities are also involved in this programme.
‘People should claim asylum in the first safe country they arrive in, and as part of our response it is important we have a maritime deterrent in the channel and work with international partners to put an end to these dangerous journeys.’
When the plans were first reported by The Sun last month, the Albanian prime minister’s official spokesman branded the reports as ‘absolutely untrue’.
The news comes after it was suggested in March that asylum seekers who cross the Channel illegally to reach Britain could be sent to a third country such as Turkey.
Other options on the table were islands off the coast of Scotland, the Isle of Man, or Gibraltar.
At the time, charities branded the proposals ‘inhumane’, while an immigration expert said that whilst there was no law prohibiting such a move, there was ‘bound to be a court case about it’.
On Wednesday, new research from the British Refugee Council revealed that nearly two thirds of migrants who cross the Channel to reach the UK are originally from the Middle East.
More than 61 per cent of those who make the dangerous journey across the 21 mile straight Calais to Dover are nationals from countries such as Iran and Iraq.
The highest number of migrants arriving in small boats are from Iran, with 3,187 Iranian nationals reaching UK shores from January last year to May this year.
This accounts for 26 per cent of all arrivals in small boats over this period.
Figures also show 2,185 people from Iraq crossed the Channel over the same period.
The figure makes up around 17 per cent of the 12,195 migrants who arrived in the UK in small boats in 2020 and at the start of this year.
A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, onboard the Dungeness Lifeboat following a small boat incident in the Channel
Other Middle Eastern nationalities in the top 10 countries of people who arrived in small boats include war-torn nations such as Syria and Yemen, along with oil rich Kuwait.
From non-Middle Eastern countries, the largest number of arrivals came from Sudan, in north-east Africa. Around eight per cent of small boat arrivals were from Vietnam, while around six per cent of people arrived from Eritrea and one per cent from Ethiopia.
All of the nations in the top 10, which make up 91 per cent of arrivals on UK shores, are countries were human rights abuses and persecution are common, according to the British Refugee Council.
The top ten nationalities of migrants arriving on small boats to the UK
According to figures obtained by the British Refugee council, migrants arriving in the UK in small boats between January 2020 and May 2021 were from:
Iran: 26 per cent
Iraq 17 per cent
Sudan 11 per cent
Syria: 10 per cent
Vietnam 8 per cent
Eritrea: 6 per cent
Afghanistan 5 per cent
Kuwait 5 per cent
Yemen 2 per cent
Ethiopia 1 per cent
Other: 9 per cent
The research came after MailOnline journalists witnessed the moment that two 50ft long inflatable dinghies loaded with up to 40 migrants each leave northern France on Tuesday morning.
At dawn. dog walkers and a jogger watched in amazement as the two separate groups, who had been hiding overnight in the sand dunes, ran to the water’s edge with their giant boats.
Smuggler minders waded in to the sea as the migrants climbed aboard for the dangerous trip to Britain but they did not make the journey with them.
Despite the ongoing crossings and the lack of progress in stopping them, Ms Patel had claimed she had agreed with French interior minister Gerald Darmanin agreed to work to prevent ‘100 per cent of crossings’ of the Channel.
The Home Office issued a joint statement from the pair which said they had agreed measures to ‘stop the dangerous crossings’ of the ‘deadly route’.
But the French embassy in London said the 100% figure ‘should not be presented as an agreed figure’.
Ms Patel and Mr Darmanin held talks on Monday night with the UK and France involved in a long-running row over how to address the problem of migrants seeking to cross the Channel.
The ‘joint statement’ issued afterwards said: ‘Both the Home Secretary and interior minister agreed to strengthen operational cooperation further.
‘More must be done to stop the dangerous crossings.
‘They agreed to accelerate the delivery of the commitments made in the joint agreement of July 2021 to deliver on their joint determination to prevent 100% of crossings and make this deadly route unviable.’
But the French embassy said on Twitter: ‘For the record, the 100% figure was not agreed between the Home Secretary and French interior minister @GDarmanin and should not be presented as an agreed commitment: it is not.
‘And it is not part of the joint statement.’
However, in a press conference on October 9, Mr Darmanin said that with the correct resources and the support of the British authorities, 100 per cent should be able to be reached.