Albania on Thursday scorned reports that the country may be preparing to host an offshore center to detain those seeking asylum in the UK, in the latest blow to London’s efforts to find a solution to an increase in illegal immigration in small boats.
Albanian Foreign Minister Olta XhaÃ§ka criticized a story on the issue in The Times – which wrongly called her a man – âfake newsâ. The country’s prime minister, Edi Rama, told reporters that the country will “never” be a country where rich countries can set up camps for their refugees.
UK Home Secretary Priti Patel is under heavy pressure from Prime Minister Boris Johnson and some Tory MPs to end the influx people on small boats, which they insist is a bigger political issue than the “dirt” scandal on the second jobs of deputies.
Johnson’s advisers have warned him that the issue of migrants will hit the Tories at the polls unless it is addressed.
Groups representing refugees point out that while the number of people arriving in the UK by boat has increased dramatically, a drop in the number of arrivals via other routes means that overall arrivals have declined. The UK has received asylum applications from 37,235 people in the year to June, a decrease of 4 percent from the same period a year earlier.
The Times reported that “low-key talks” were underway between London and Tirana over the possible establishment of a hub there for migrants to be detained there while their applications were considered.
Media reports earlier this year suggested offshore centers could be established in Morocco, Turkey, Rwanda, Gibraltar or the Isle of Man. The authorities of all these territories refuse being open to hosting such a center. Interior Ministry officials considered last year establishment a treatment center on Ascension Island or St Helena, British South Atlantic territories, although plans were scrapped.
Albania became the first European country to sign in July a deal with the UK to take back its own citizens who had made unsuccessful asylum claims in the UK, as well as its nationals who were at risk of deportation as foreign offenders and Albanians who had exceeded their visa term British.
The Nationality and Borders Bill, currently under consideration in Parliament, would limit for the first time the rights of people who have successfully applied for asylum in the UK after breaking immigration rules for enter the country. British courts have generally interpreted the United Nations Refugee Convention of 1951 as prohibiting the country from discriminating against people who have broken immigration law to seek asylum in the United Kingdom.
Rama told reporters: âAlbania will never be a country where very rich countries have set up camps for their refugees – never!
XhaÃ§ka wrote on Twitter: âThe same old fake news this time on the front page of a respected newspaper like The Times! And besides, I am not a âheâ but a âsheâ who has always admired the quality of the British media. Sad.”
Some 23,500 people have reached the UK in small boats so far this year, more than double the number for all of 2020. On some days more than 1,000 people have arrived as part of a tactic apparent smugglers to crush France’s efforts to stop shipping.
The Home Office said migrants making the crossings put their lives at risk and that it was “vital” to do everything possible to “break the business model” of smuggling gangs. He reiterated his view that migrants should seek asylum in the first safe country they reach.
“As part of our response, it is important that we have maritime deterrence in the Channel and that we work with international partners to end these dangerous voyages,” he said.