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Albanian prisoners paid by UK government to return home

17th May, 2023 04:02:15

Albanian authorities have confirmed that most of its citizens forcibly sent back home from the UK this year were convicted of crimes there. The BBC has spoken to those men sent home, and learnt that some prisoners were offered £1,500 to leave - and some plan to come back.

Each week, a small crowd gathers at the razor-wire fence tucked around the back of Albania's Tirana airport.

The narrow runway beyond it, pinched between jagged black mountains and the high grey walls of the border police unit, is where UK deportation flights land - closely watched by the families waiting at the fence.

It takes hours for the deportees to appear, trickling slowly through the gate to be met with hugs, shy smiles and tears.

Deportation flights to Albania have increased since the country signed a joint co-operation agreement with the UK last December, to "deter and disrupt illegal migration".

The UK government's Home Office says more than 1,000 people have been returned since then: around half of them voluntary, the rest a combination of failed asylum seekers and foreign offenders.


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