Channel boat crossings: 6 charts explaining the migrant crisis - including how many Albanians are arriving

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The majority of Albanian asylum seekers have their applications approved - we explain the key figures on refugees and English channel boat crossings.

Almost 40,000 people have crossed the Channel this year in small boats, including a record high number of Albanians, the latest government figures show.

The UK’s migrant crisis intensified last week (Sunday 30 October) when a man launched two or three petrol bombs at a migrant processing centre in Dover, Kent, before taking his own life. Counter-terrorism police have now launched an investigation.

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Since the attack, reports have exposed and highlighted vast failings within the UK’s immigration system with dangerously overcrowded immigration centres and lengthy processing times.It has also brought the Home Secretary’s view on migration into the spotlight. Suella Braverman said earlier this week that the UK’s immigration system was “broken” and that “illegal immigration” was “out of control”.

She also questioned the intention of those risking their lives to travel to the UK on a small boat, dismissing the idea that many Albanians coming to the UK have been trafficked as victims of modern slavery. She said people coming to the UK illegally from ‘safe’ Eastern European countries like Albania were “not welcome and should not expect to stay”.

Thousands of Albanians crossed the English Channel in small boats in the six months to June 2022.Thousands of Albanians crossed the English Channel in small boats in the six months to June 2022.
Thousands of Albanians crossed the English Channel in small boats in the six months to June 2022. | NationalWorld

How many Albanians are coming to the UK on small boats and importantly, why has there been a surge in people arriving from Albania? NationalWorld has crunched the numbers from the Home Office and Ministry of Defence to reveal everything you need to know about the Channel crossing crisis and why more Albanians than ever before are travelling to the UK on a small boat.

How many migrants have crossed the Channel?

Analysis of Home Office and Ministry of Defence figures show just under 80,000 migrants have crossed the English Channel since 2018 – more than enough people to fill Manchester United’s Old Trafford stadium. The number peaked in August of this year when more than 8,600 people made the crossing, followed by September when just under 8,000 people were detected.

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Is the situation getting worse?

Despite firm commitments to send migrants to Rwanda, not a single person has been sent to the Central Africa country since the controversial policy was first announced back in April. The crisis is getting significantly worse, with figures showing the Rwanda policy has had no impact on Channel crossings. From January to October almost 40,000 people crossed the Channel, more than double the number that made the journey during the same months last year when just under 20,000 made the crossing.


The figures for 2022 do not include crossings potentially made on 31 October.

Who is crossing the Channel?

In the first six months of this year there was a surge in Albanians crossing the Channel in small boats with over 2,150 making the journey – a 166% increase on 2021’s figures when just over 800 crossed all year , according to Home Office figures. Last year almost 8,320 Irainians made the crossing, more than any other nationality, followed by over 6,100 Iraqis.


Why are more Albanians crossing the Channel?

Analysis by NationalWorld can also reveal the greatest proportion of modern slavery victims in the first six months of 2022 were Albanians. The Home Office’s National Referral Mechanism (NRM), which records cases of modern slavery across the UK, shows a potential link between modern slavery and the rise in Albanian crossings. The latest data for the first three months of 2022 shows more Albanians were identified as being potential victims of modern slavery or trafficking than any other nationality.

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In total, more than 4,000 people were identified as being potential victims in the three months to April, of which more than a quarter (27%) were found to be from Albania. Of the Albanian victims, 10% (117) were exploited as children. The NRM does not just capture new arrivals, but victims who have been discovered being exploited within the UK too - although the agency that referred the most Albanians was Immigration Enforcement. Albanian referrals for modern slavery were most common for labour exploitation, then labour and criminal, then criminal. You can read the full story on how Albanians are becoming victims of mordern slavery here.

How many Albanians are given asylum in the UK?

Despite saying how people from ‘safe’ countries like Albanian are ‘unwelcome’ in the UK, figures from the Home Office show a greater proportion of Albanians are being granted asylum than ever before – suggesting that many Albanians in the UK have been forcibly displaced.


There has been an upward trend in the number of Albanians seeking asylum in the UK, according to the Home Office. In 2021 more than 5,100 Albanians sought asylum in the UK, the highest number since records began 22 years ago. Figures for 2022 only cover the six months to June but this was already the second highest on record with more than 4,700 seeking asylum.


The UK has given a greater proportion of asylum seekers from Albania Grant of Protection or other grants of leave (permission to stay in the country) than in previous years. Home Office figures show more than half (56%) of applications in the six months to June 2022 were successful, compared to 46% in 2021 and 36% in 2020, excluding those who withdrew their applications.

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