Albanian migrants who enter the UK illegally on small boats are being deported back to their homeland within a record 48 hours, the Home Office has revealed.
As Robert Jenrick, the Immigration Minister landed in Tirana for talks with his counterparts, his department revealed how five Albanians who arrived in the UK illegally on September 5 were put on flights back to their homeland on September 7.
The five deported Albanians were aged between 22 and 28 and ruled to have no right to remain in the UK as economic migrants.
The fast-track deportation deal was negotiated last year after a surge in the number of Albanians crossing the Channel. Last year, they accounted for more than a quarter of the 45,774 who reached the UK in small boats.
This year, however, the number of Albanian migrants has fallen by more than 90 per cent after the returns deal was signed in December last year and the Home Office instituted a crackdown on Albanians claiming to be victims of modern slavery.
More than 23,000 migrants have so far crossed the Channel this year, as increasing numbers of Afghans, Indians and Turks attempt to come to the UK on small boats. Overall, however, the crossings are still down by 20 per cent.
Mr Jenrick said: “Since we signed our returns deal with Albania in December last year, we have returned more than 3,500 immigration offenders on weekly flights. And as I saw today, Albanians crossing illegally in small boat are being returned back to Tirana in a matter of days.
“As we’ve done so, we have seen a more than 90 per cent reduction in the number of Albanians arriving illegally, and overall small boat arrivals are down by 20 per cent despite significant increases in illegal arrivals into Europe.
“It shows that swift returns deliver the deterrent effect that is so vitally needed to stop the boats - and it reinforces why delivering on our partnership with Rwanda is critical to securing our borders.
“We will continue to press our European partners to seize small boat equipment on the continent. These consignments are directly linked to deadly organised immigration crime and these flimsy dinghies are also clear breaches of EU directives on safety.
“Nobody is using these death traps for recreational purposes.”