Traffickers 'Back to Business' After UK Rwanda Deal, Says Albanian Journalist

Traffickers 'Back to Business' After UK Rwanda Deal, Says Albanian Journalist
A view of one of two areas being used for boats intercepted in the English Channel by the UK's Border Force at a warehouse facility in Dover, Kent, on July 27, 2021. (Gareth Fuller/PA)
Chris Summers
An Albanian journalist has told The Epoch Times the impact of Priti Patel's deal with Rwanda has already worn off and traffickers are telling illegal immigrants they will not end up in the African country.

Muhamed Veliu, a political correspondent with Top Channel in Albania, said: "When the Rwanda deal was done we reported it in Albania and there was a concern for a month but it has not stopped traffickers. They have been advertising on TikTok and saying 'hurry up, no one will send you to Rwanda.'"

More than 18,000 illegal immigrants have crossed the channel this year and a large percentage are from Albania.

A former director general of the UK Border Force, Tony Smith, told the Telegraph increasing numbers of Albanian illegal immigrants are being told to say they have been trafficked in a bid to stay longer in Britain.

Smith told the Telegraph: "They know they cannot get visas or get past the Border Forces officers at Calais but if they can get to the UK and log these claims of being trafficked, it is another loophole that is being exploited in the system. They know they cannot claim asylum but they are using this ploy that they have been trafficked."

Last week it was reported traffickers were advertising their services to Albanians on TikTok.
Veliu said Kurdish gangs controlled most of the people trafficking from France to Britain and he said the Albanians were "middlemen" whose job was to recruit passengers and then get a commission for everyone who boards the boats.

Albanian Gangs Advertising 'Aggressively' on TikTok

He said Albanian gangs were advertising "aggressively" on TikTok and said: "It's like ISIS. It's like propaganda, with the same intensity. TikTok closes one of these accounts down and they instantly open a new one up. It's dead easy to open a TikTok account."

Veliu: "But it's the Kurds who buy the boats in China and bring them from Germany. The Albanians are just recruiting passengers."

He said many of the Albanian illegal immigrants came from impoverished parts of northern Albania and hoped to join relatives who came to Britain "in the first wave" in 1998.

Many Albanians came to Britain posing as Kosovans—who are ethnically Albanian —and saying they had suffered in the 1998–99 conflict in Kosovo.

"Now we have a new wave because the price is very cheap—£5,000 each, sometimes less—and there is an aggressive marketing campaign on TikTok. Now they are not just from northern Albania but from other parts of Albania too. The economy is generally better in southern Albania but in some villages there is high unemployment," said Veliu.

He said Britain was "paying the price of Brexit" because now that it is not in the Dublin Treaty—which says asylum seekers must claim asylum in the first EU country they arrive in—it cannot just send illegal immigrants back to France and Belgium.

A government spokesman said, in a statement to the Telegraph: "The UK government works with the Albanian government on a range of issues, including signing a historic agreement to remove Albanian nationals with no right to be in the UK in 2021. Since then we have removed over 1,000 Albanian foreign national offenders, including some who crossed the Channel illegally to come to the UK."