Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama has criticised the British government for allegedly “discriminating” against Albanians, after a top UK official singled out the nationality for their role in illicit migration to the country.
Small-boat crossings of the English Channel from mainland Europe have become a political headache for UK ministers, who promised that Brexit would lead to tighter immigration controls.
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Official statistics in the UK have said that Albanians are now the largest single group making small-boat crossings of the Channel.
In a series of messages posted on his personal Twitter account on Wednesday, Rama said UK officials have been actively “discriminating” against Albanians.
“Targeting Albanians (as some shamefully did when fighting for Brexit) as the cause of Britain’s crime and border problems makes for easy rhetoric but ignores hard fact,” Rama tweeted.
“Albanians in the UK work hard and pay tax. UK should fight the crime gangs of all nationalities and stop discriminating … to excuse policy failures,” he added.
Britain’s Home Secretary Suella Braverman was recently criticised for her choice of language during a heated Commons debate, when she alleged that there is an “invasion” of England by migrants.
Braverman has also pointed the finger at Albanian asylum seekers, saying that many Albanian adult males who seek asylum in the UK have posed as children, a practice she intended to “clamp down” on.
British MPs were told recently that 12,000 Albanians had arrived in the country after crossing the Channel so far this year, compared with only 50 in 2020.
The number of migrant arrivals have reached record levels, causing delays in asylum applications and increasing costs in terms of housing and other social services.
Albanian organised crime gang groups are believed to be among the main players in smuggling migrants across the Channel to Britain from northern Europe.
Earlier this week, British and Belgian law enforcement officers said they had arrested three people suspected of being part of an Albanian people-smuggling ring.