Albania protests to UK over 'language of hatred' over migrants

FILE PHOTO: Britain's cabinet meeting at Number 10 Downing Street, London

TIRANA (Reuters) - Albania on Monday handed a note of protest to the British ambassador over comments by immigration minister Robert Jenrick about illegal Albanian immigrants that the foreign ministry said used the "language of hatred".

In the past year there has been a significant increase in the number of Albanians trying to reach Britain in small boats arriving on the south coast.

Some British politicians say migrants from Albania - a European Union candidate and NATO ally - have not suffered persecution but are moving for economic reasons.

Albania's protest came after Jenrick published a video on Facebook on Jan. 13, when he was visiting a deportation centre, in which he praised staff working "to find the Albanians, to detain them, to put them onto coaches, to take them to the airport and get them back to Tirana".

The Albanian ministry statement said that "this language of hatred and discrimination" should be avoided.

"Through this note the Foreign Ministry expressed concern about the latest statements with discriminatory language against Albanians," the statement said.

Albanians made up 42% of people heading to Britain on small boats between May and September last year, according to British government.

In November, Albania's Prime Minister Edi Rama said a comment from Britain's government to single out a community "sounds more like screams from a madhouse."

Rama and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak had a phone call in mid-December on the same issue.

(Reporting by Florion Goga; Writing by Fatos Bytyci; Editing by Alison Williams)