Albanian gangs offer migrants free bus rides to Channel in TikTok videos

A record number of 1,295 people arrived in UK on Monday after crossing from France in small boats

Migrants are brought ashore in southern England. Thousands of people are crossing the English Channel from launch points in northern France. AFP
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Albanian people-smuggling gangs are offering migrants free minibus rides from southern Europe to English Channel crossing points.

This comes as record 1,295 migrants arrived in the UK after crossing the Channel on Monday — the highest daily total since current records began in 2018.

The Albanian gangs claim their service is “100 per cent secure” in videos released on social media platform TikTok.

Would-be migrants are driven by minibus to northern France where they are met by largely Iraqi Kurdish groups who then send the migrants across the 35-kilometre crossing in small boats.

The traffickers typically charge migrants between £2,500 ($2,950) to £5,000 a person.

An Albanian immigration source told The Telegraph that poverty in the former Eastern bloc country was fuelling the trade.

“The Albanians are coming for economic reasons. There is huge poverty in Albania and they want to get to the UK for a better life and good employment. Most end up working in the black market, especially in construction,” the source said.

A leaked report from Britain’s military revealed that of the 2,863 migrants smuggled by nine separate gangs in the six weeks from the start of June, 1,075 — more than 37 per cent — were Albanian, three times more than any other nationality.

Monday's record number of 1,295 migrants arrived in 27 small boats, according to provisional Ministry of Defence data. This is an average of 48 people in each boat.

The previous highest daily number of migrants recorded crossing the Channel was 1,185, on November 11, 2021.

Good weather which encourages crossings and effective interception of boats at sea have been suggested as reasons behind the high numbers.

So far in 2022, more than 22,600 migrants have arrived in Britain after crossing the Channel, according to UK figures.

Four months ago, Home Secretary Priti Patel unveiled plans to send migrants to Rwanda in Central Africa, in a bid to curb Channel crossings.

Since then, 17,402 people have arrived in the UK after making the journey.

On April 14, Ms Patel signed what she described as a “world-first” agreement with Rwanda under which the east African nation will receive migrants deemed by the UK to have arrived “illegally” and therefore inadmissible under new immigration rules.

But the first deportation flight, due to take off on June 14, was grounded amid legal challenges.

Updated: August 24, 2022, 4:13 PM
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