Thousands of Albanians seeking asylum in the UK this year have likely absconded from their holding accommodation, according to official figures.
The UK Home Office said more than 6,000 asylum claims were withdrawn in the months of January to March, with nearly 4,400 of them related to Albanians who had crossed the English Channel in small boats.
This was a stark increase from the same period in 2022, when 1,229 withdrawals were recorded by the Home Office, of which 292 were Albanian asylum claims.
A report in The Times quoted senior Home Office sources as saying the department had “lost track” of the claims related to asylum-seekers because they had “disappeared from hotels or other asylum accommodation” or simply “not turned up for interviews.”
UK charities who work with asylum-seekers have warned the government that not all individuals will have absconded, with some who withdrew their applications likely to be victims of exploitation.
“There are real risks when we allow people to fall between the cracks in this way. We cannot let people who have come to our country to find safety become victims of trafficking and exploitation or suffer from destitution,” said Enver Solomon, CEO of the Refugee Council.
“Every effort should be taken by the Home Office to ensure people are not left to disappear in order to address an asylum backlog problem that the government itself is responsible for creating.”
The number of migrants who have arrived in June was higher than the same month last year, which goes against Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s claim three weeks ago that his government’s plan to stop the boats is “starting to work.”
A Home Office spokesperson told The Times: “The unacceptable number of people risking their lives by making these dangerous crossings is placing an unprecedented strain on our asylum system.”
The spokesperson added: “Asylum-seekers may withdraw their claim for a variety of reasons, for example because they want to leave the UK or pursue another application for permission to stay.
“Asylum claims may also be withdrawn where individuals abscond before a decision is made on their asylum claim.”
Source: Arab News