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'Live like a worm, or risk your life': Desperate Albanians plot escape to the UK | UK News

In the backstreets of Albania’s capital, Tirana, there is a little less light and less hope.

The alleyways we navigate are home to some of
the poorest people.
 

Here Inglita Vera lives with her children and extended family.

The house consists of two small rooms where they cook, eat and sleep.

She points to an outside tap where they get the water and explains that it often doesn’t work.
 
Enquilita’s husband is in jail for stealing minerals to make money on the black market, and her kids are rummaging through the city bins every day for cans they can sell.The deprivation experienced by the family is palpable, and the despair overwhelming.

Mrs. Vera cries: “I want to see my children in an orphanage.” “I don’t want to see them on the streets.

“I want to live well, just like everyone else. I don’t want them hanging around in garbage cans and begging.”

Her son, a 16-year-old slugger, appears to me nearby.

It doesn’t take long—one bedroom sleeps seven people, he says.

On the table is a homemade tattoo pen that he put out of the trash he collected.

He dreams of being a tattoo artist, but mostly dreams of escaping abroad to countries like the UK Thousands of others already have it.

“Why do you want to go to the UK?” I ask.

“It’s different than here. There are jobs there. Everything is better there. Life is different. It’s not like here. It’s very poor here. There are no jobs,” he says.

Albania is one of the poorest countries in Europe.

Six percent of people are malnourished and one in ten Albanians live in poverty, according to data from the German government.

This poverty fuels migration – legal and illegal.

More than 12,000 came to the UK in small boats

More than 12,000 Albanians crossed the Channel in small boats to England this year, about 10,000 of them men.

“We hear every day that people are trying to move out of the country,” says Arber Hajdari, executive director of the charity Fundjave Ndryshe.

“One family needs to go for a better life. One needs to go to a better school. One for a better health center, one family for a better job. They pay three or four times what they pay in Albania.”

The charity supports around 17,000 families across Albania with food boxes, supplies and housing.

Its employees regularly hear stories of people paying smugglers to help them get to the UK.

“In my opinion, young people are the problem. They have a very large community outside Albania, also in England, and they try to work together,” says Hajdari.

“Guys who live in England, for example, invite their friends to go there because of the salaries. They are [earn] Lots of money out there compared to here.

“It’s a very big risk and I think the risk is because they can’t get a work visa like normal people.”

Arbir Heidari
picture: Arbir Heidari


£20,000 to send her son to England

At a café in Tirana, we meet Maria, who has negotiated with smugglers to send her son to the UK.

It’s not her real name – she changed it to avoid being identified by the authorities or traffickers.

She said she looked for legal ways first, but they were all blocked.

“I chose another path to deal with some people who used to smuggle people in boats,” says Maria.

Some asked me £14,000, then increased to £16,000, and lately went to £20,000… To send my son’s family to England I must sell the house, that I may be homeless. “

In the end, she could not afford the fee and on this occasion, the trip was cancelled.

Others we interviewed who made it to the UK said that some smugglers offer deals where people can work off their debts illegally once in England.

The & # 39; Fundjave Ndryshe & # 39; The charity supports 17,000 families
Fundjave Ndryshe supports 17,000 families


Debt bondage agreements

Debt bondage pacts are extremely risky, exposing people to exploitation and extortion and all after a perilous journey in a rickety canoe or hidden in the back of a truck.

But many say it was worth it for the chance of a different future.

“You only live once,” says Maria. “Live like a worm or drown, because there is no other choice, that’s the way it is. Live like a worm, or you risk your life. You have to put yourself in danger.”

On Monday, the UK and France signed a new deal To try to prevent people from crossing the canal.

It included a 40% increase in the number of officers on French beaches, an additional £8m in funding, and a new task force focused on reversing the recent rise in the number of Albanian citizens and organized crime groups controlling the roads.

Why do Albanians come to the UK?

It looks promising but from our conversations in Albania, it may not be enough.

While a crackdown on smugglers could cripple boats crossing the canal, without hope and opportunity at home, Albania’s illegal immigrants are likely to keep coming.

 

EYES ON TRAFFICKING

This “Eyes on Trafficking” story is reprinted from its original location.

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EYES ON TRAFFICKING

This “Eyes on Trafficking” story is reprinted from its original online location.

ABOUT PBJ LEARNING

PBJ Learning is a leading provider of online human trafficking training, focusing on awareness and prevention education. Their interactive Human Trafficking Essentials online course is used worldwide to educate professionals and individuals how to recognize human trafficking and how to respond to potential victims. Learn on any web browser (even your mobile phone) at any time.

More stories like this can be found in your PBJ Learning Knowledge Vault.