‘Live like a worm, or risk your life’: Desperate Albanians plot escape to the UK

Growing numbers of Albanians are risking their lives to reach the UK. Without hope at home, they will keep coming and risking their lives for better opportunities.
In the backstreets of Albania’s capital city, Tirana, there is little light and even less hope.
The warren of alleyways we are being guided along is home to some of Albania’s poorest people.
It is here Enkileta Ferra lives with her children and extended family.
The house is made up of two small rooms where they cook, eat and sleep.
She points to an outside tap where they get their water and explains it often doesn’t work.
Enkileta’s husband is in prison for stealing metal to earn money on the black market and her children pick through the city’s bins every day looking for cans they can sell.
The deprivation the family lives in is clear, the desperation is overwhelming.
“I want to see my children sheltered,” Ms Ferra sobs. “I don’t want to see them on the streets.
“I want to live well, just like everybody else. I don’t want them to hang around the bins and beg.”

RELATED: The beautiful Albanian border region where gun-runners and people smugglers enter the EU

Europe’s specialist border force agency patrols the southern border of Albania as the country desperately tries to escape its own reputation as a nexus of crime.

There are places in Albania that are breathtakingly beautiful, blessed with soaring peaks, turquoise water or lush forests.
And sometimes, all three at once.
On this day, we are walking across a dried river bed, the sun beating down and the mountains ahead of us.
On the other side of the ridge is the line where Albania stops and Greece begins.
And, of course, when you reach Greece, you’ve also entered the European Union, where visitors can roam fairly freely.
That’s why this border region, of concealed paths and dense forests, has long been associated with smuggling, gun-running, people trafficking and all the other types of grim cross-border crime.
Just within sight, coming closer all the time, are a cluster of battered tents.


RELATED: Albanian migrant: ‘I wish I’d never tried to enter the UK illegally’

“I didn’t seek asylum. I told them I was an economic migrant,” said Artan. “They gave us plastic bags with our belongings; I was told tomorrow morning you will arrive in Tirana.”
Unlike other Albanians who have entered the UK illegally on small boats and claimed asylum he was quickly sent home.
He had paid Kurdish people smugglers around £3,500 ($4,169) for the perilous trip across the English Channel, borrowing the money from friends and family.
We met Artan in an industrial suburb of the Albanian capital. It isn’t his real name as his identity needs protecting for fear of reprisals. In his early 30s, he cut a downbeat figure.



By: Miss Cherry May Timbol – Independent Reporter

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