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The ever growing dilemma of immigration of young Albanians to the UK.

 In contrast to the problems of immigration rising around the world, two countries are in the spotlight of this crisis.

Image credit  Wikimedia

The challenge of immigration has been rising in the UK since 1970. In countries abroad, citizens are leaving on their own to find better benefits and economic stability in the UK. A rise in migrants are arriving in the UK, especially the younger generation from Albania. Making it a subject of tension between the UK and Albanian governments.  

People from Albania have multiple reasons for fleeing. Here’s why. 

On December 13th the British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak directed British border officials to the Albanian border to handle the situation with an addition to a new task force of 400 specialists to stop illegal immigration.

This is an important issue for Britain because they have received a large number of Albanians, many of whom are working illegally in the UK.

After the fall of Communism in 1991, Albania was in a state of economic crisis and social unrest broke out, leading out to its population to disperse from their homeland to countries nearby such as Greece, Italy, and other Western countries. In more severe actions over the several years was an Albanian civil war which led up to two thousand people to be killed and its government to be taken down for The Pyramid Crisis

As Albania headed into the 21st century, the country still faced riots and government backlash for corruption, as one anti-corruption organization in Europe labeled Albania as having the highest administrative corruption in the region. The Southeast European Leadership for Development and Integration claims that half the population was over half of the population reporting being asked for bribes.

Currently, Albania’s younger generation is leaving. One young Albanian immigrant was interviewed by the BBC and spoke out about the rampant corruption and poor work pay in Albania. An Albanian’s average pay is $560 US per month. Many parts of the country contain “ghost towns” in which at least 40% of the population left during the fall of communism. In 2022 a census about the population in Albania claimed that 2.8 million Albanians remain in their homeland but are declining each year at a small rate.

Most areas of Albania are experiencing high prices for staples such as food and gas, as 40% percent pay for food and 20% for gas and other essentials in a home. Gas in Albania is currently priced at $2.15 Cdn per liter. In a 2020 statistics of Albania’s wealth and employment rate including monthly wages, the unemployment rate in Albania arrived at 10% with especially youth unemployment rate to be 20%

The citizens in Albania are hindered constantly by high prices and even after the fall of communism, many towns depended on businesses such as fishing and mining which led a lot of the population in villages or towns to migrate. The Albanian government was included in playing a factor as there was no really heavy investment in small businesses.

Albania’s economy is growing by a little each year but yet it is still not enough for the country. The government during COVID-19 gave little support to its people in terms of healthcare and treatment. In one interview from another BBC interview, the interviewee was asked about the government. The woman replied that “as politicians it’s linked with high corruption in the north of the countries linked with the lack of opportunities.” This is one major reason why younger generations are pushed to migrate. 

The journey to the UK is difficult. People were on top of dinghies packed with at least 10-15 people in most cases. They describe it as a cold and a treacherous journey which takes several hours to cross the English Channel. People that try to get into the UK were forced to pay 3,000-15,000 euros ($4,000 to $21,000 Cdn). 

The process of migration starts out with the men with wives and children following once the man has secured work. Some Albanians work illegally in the UK to make money for their families in Albania so they can arrive in the UK but others work in gangs, smuggling, and drug deals. The Prime Minister, RIshi Sunak, made a 5 step plan to crack down on these operations.

In statistics and sources by UK news it is noted that at least 11,000-14,000 Albanians arrived to the UK and approximately 7,000 applied for asylum while many others work illegally in the UK in gangs, drugs, and other works of crime. Just in the first nine months, 11,281 Albanians migrated to the UK which caught the attention of the current Prime minister, Rishi Sunak. 

He issued a 5 step plan to tend to the immigration problem and late backlogs of asylum claims: Issuing a small task force of boats to intercept, enforce, and process migrants to the UK across the English channel;  increase the prevention of illegal working in the UK by up to 50 percent through raids; figuring out a solution for expense of asylum sites and hotels housing migrants; speeding up and doubling down on asylum applications due to the many applicants when they arrive; and lastly, taking on the large amount of migrants coming out of Albania as the increase of Albanian migrants grew in 3 years. 

As the UK prime minister issues his plan, he faces multiple problems in making this plan where he faces multiple political opposition parties and economic instability after the recent resignation of Liz Truss.

Sources used:  Euractiv                       Trading Economics

                         Reuters                       Spectator

                         BBC

                         NewYorkTimes

                         UCL News

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