The government has been asked why so many asylum applications have been approved for people entering the UK from Albania, a safe country. Members of the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee said they would understand approval being given in “specific cases,” such as those relating to trafficking, but that grant rates for Albanians of up to 51% do not make sense.
In a report released this week, the political body described Albania as “a safe European country. It is not at war, and it is a signatory to European conventions relating to, among other things, human trafficking, and it is a candidate country to join the European Union. Several European countries recognise and accept few, if any, asylum applications from Albanian nationals.” It added that
We have seen little evidence that its citizens should need to seek political asylum in the UK or elsewhere as a result of the actions of its Government. We saw no reason why the UK should routinely accept asylum applications from Albanian citizens, as is the case with many EU countries, other than in specific cases such as those that arise from trafficking.
Despite this safe country status, more than a quarter of those who crossed the Channel to enter Britain last year came from Albania. In the year to September 2022, 85% of these illegal migrants lodged asylum claims. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has made stopping illegal crossings one of his top priorities, but after years of indifference on this topic, there is more than a small degree of scepticism around this promise. Alp Mehmet, chairman of Migration Watch UK, told The European Conservative that “sadly, there’s scant evidence that Rishi Sunak’s government is up to the task.” Responding to the routine acceptance of asylum claims from Albanian migrants, he also said:
This really is the height of absurdity and yet another sign that the system is a shambles and in need of fundamental reform.
The Home Affairs Committee advised that the government could “alter Albania’s status further to enable the Home Secretary to declare all claims from Albania inadmissible, allowing instant dismissal of claims without their being considered.” It also suggested “supporting such countries [as Albania] to become wealthier”—that is, the British government should spend its resources on decreasing the push factor experienced by Albanian (and presumably other) migrants wanting to leave rather than solely on increasing the deterrent against making the life-threatening trip across the Channel.