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

The Interior Ministry confirmed that 11 Albanians were sent home on a charter plane last week as part of a pilot programme.  Pictured: Migrants crossing the English Channel

Albanian boat migrants are being sent home within days as authorities confirm 11 have been flown back as part of a pilot program

  • Albanian migrants were turned back days after crossing the English Channel
  • The Interior Ministry confirmed that 11 Albanians were sent home on a charter plane
  • It is understood the group refused to seek asylum after arriving from France
  • Decision comes after Priti Patel reached ‘rapid dismissal’ deal with Albania

Albanian migrants in small boats were quickly evacuated from Britain just days after crossing the English Channel.

The Interior Ministry confirmed that 11 Albanians were sent home on a charter plane last week as part of a pilot programme.

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

It is understood that they refused to seek asylum and as a result immigration officials told them they faced immediate removal.

The 11 people were taken to Stansted Airport, where they boarded a charter flight to Tirana, sources said.

The development – which could mark a major breakthrough in the fight against the Channel crisis – came seven weeks after former Home Secretary Priti Patel reached a landmark agreement with her Albanian counterpart for a program of “prompt referral”.

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

The number of Albanians arriving across the Channel exploded at the start of the summer. They now represent 60% of arrivals from the north of France.

A total of almost 37,000 small boat migrants have reached British soil since the start of the year – and at least 10,000 of them are believed to be Albanian.

Before the summer, about nine out of ten Albanians were seeking asylum – despite there having been no conflict for more than 25 years in the Balkan state, a NATO ally aspiring to join the ‘European Union.

Rwanda gets another £20m for stalled asylum deal

Britain has paid the Rwandan government an additional £20m for the stalled asylum deal – although not a single migrant has yet been deported.

Immigration Minister Tom Pursglove said the sum was for “initial settlement costs”, in addition to £120million in April. The new sum will cover social workers, translators and other costs, including accommodation. Under the plan, some migrants will receive a one-way ticket to Rwanda to seek asylum there.

However, the project is in a legal vacuum. Interior Minister Suella Braverman said the first flight would 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 of asylum seekers is believed to have declined as they are deterred by the government’s plan to send asylum seekers one-way to Rwanda.

When Miss Patel launched the fast-track scheme in August, sources suggested that in some cases Albanians could be removed “within hours”. Senior police officers from the Balkan country have come to Britain to assess how they could work alongside British immigration officers.

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

Separately, Tirana officials have 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 of Albania is a safe country.

The Home Office has also launched a campaign to dissuade Albanians from traveling to the UK illegally.

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

The announcement appears on social media as Albanian-language speakers pass through parts of northern France and Belgium, before migrants attempt to cross the English Channel.

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

Last month, UK government lawyers confirmed that the fast-track plans would not apply to Albanians making asylum claims here.

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