Stop crossing the English Channel, Albanian Prime Minister tells his people

Asked this weekend about the exodus across the Channel, Mr Rama told reporters: “First of all, I would like to appeal to everyone not to take this path because it will be more and more difficult, it will become more and more expensive and most will fail.

He admitted that Albania could not offer Albanians the same “conditions” as the UK or Germany. “We are not magicians,” he said. But he insisted Albania had “plenty of opportunities” for those who “really want to achieve their own success through hard work”.

Mr Rama suggested that the £20,000 or £30,000 people were paying traffickers to get to the UK could, with government support, allow them to set up ‘agritourism’ businesses based on smallholdings of their parents or grandparents.

“You can make a lot more money than you can with a regular job in the UK, unless you get involved in criminal networks which can lure you in with stories of more income but ultimately lead to hell,” he said.

Criminal gangs and cocaine trafficking

Law enforcement is concerned about the influx of Albanians, whose criminal gangs dominate the cocaine trade in southern England and have expanded into cannabis cultivation by adapting agriponic techniques developed in Albania to grow plants.

It is estimated that by the end of this month, up to 9,000 Albanians may have reached the UK. A total of almost 4,700 migrants have already crossed the Channel this month, bringing the total so far this year to 29,716, compared to 28,526 for the whole of 2021 and 8,400 in 2020.

Analysis of TikTok, used by smugglers to advertise their services, suggests they are changing tactics, doing more pre-dawn launches to evade detection by French gendarmes and putting younger men in charge boats as skippers to counter new laws imposing life sentences on those who pilot them.