UK’s Sunak vows to clear asylum backlog, return Albanians

Dec 12, 2022, 4:20 PM | Updated: Dec 13, 2022, 10:44 am
Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak speaks to Small Boats Operational Command, Border Force offici...

Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak speaks to Small Boats Operational Command, Border Force officials at Border Force facility in central London, Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2022. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant, Pool)

(AP Photo/Alastair Grant, Pool)

LONDON (AP) — British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak pledged Tuesday to clear a backlog of asylum-seeker applications as he announced new measures aimed at curbing the number of migrants reaching the U.K. by crossing the English Channel on small boats.

Sunak, who has faced mounting pressure to limit the growing numbers of migrants arriving by small boats, said also he planned to introduce new legislation early next year to ensure people who arrive illegally cannot remain in the country.

The prime minister said he was adding hundreds of workers to process asylum claims and to clear the backlog, estimated at more than 143,000 pending applications, by the end of 2023. The extra staff will also focus on the swift removal of Albanian migrants who have arrived via the Channel in increasing numbers, Sunak said.

More than 10,000 Albanians have arrived by that route to seek asylum this year, making up nearly a fourth of the record 44,000 people who made the dangerous journey across the busy waterway on small boats and made it to the U.K.

Britain recorded the arrival of only a few dozen Albanian asylum-seekers in 2020. British officials have said the large increase may be due to increased organization by Albanian criminals working in northern France.

Sunak and others have insisted that Albania is a “fundamentally safe country” and that most asylum claims from its citizens are unfounded. The country in the Western Balkans is seeking European Union membership.

“Over the coming months, thousands of Albanians will be returned home, and we will keep going with weekly flights until all the Albanians in our backlog have been removed,” Sunak told Parliament.

He said Britain received formal assurances from Albania’s government that “they will protect genuine victims and people at risk of re-trafficking, allowing us to detain and return people to Albania with confidence.”

The British government’s focus on Albanian migrants recently angered Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, who said the U.K. should “stop discriminating” against people from his country to excuse its own migration policy failures.

Sunak added that new laws would be introduced next year to ensure only those entering the U.K. through “safe and legal” routes have the right to claim asylum.

That drew criticism from the U.N. refugee agency, which said the plans would “undermine the global refugee system at large” and violate international refugee law.

“In limiting access to asylum to those arriving through ‘safe, legal routes’, today’s proposals go against the basic principles of international solidarity and responsibility-sharing upon which the 1951 Refugee Convention was founded.,” the UNHCR said in a statement.

Sunak’s approach “would close down access to asylum in the U.K. for all but a few,” the UNHCR’s assistant high commissioner for protection, Gillian Triggs, said. “This would likely result in refugees having no means to establish their status and place them at risk of forced return to unsafe countries, in breach of the Refugee Convention.”


Follow AP’s coverage of global migration at

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


FILE - Bryan Kohberger, who is accused of killing four University of Idaho students in Nov. 2022, a...
Associated Press

News groups ask Idaho Supreme Court to reject University slayer gag order

Thirty news organizations have asked the Idaho Supreme Court to overturn a gag order in a case against a man accused of stabbing four students to death.
16 hours ago
Nathan Chasing Horse stands in court. Monday, Feb. 6, 2023, in North Las Vegas, Nev. Nathan Chasing...
Associated Press

‘Dances With Wolves’ actor charged in 2018 rape in PNW

Canadian police confirmed Tuesday they are pursuing a criminal case against a former "Dances With Wolves" actor who was arrested last week and charged in Nevada with sexually abusing and trafficking Indigenous women and girls.
16 hours ago
Associated Press

Driver in strange Tesla crash apparently moved to rear seat

DETROIT (AP) — Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board apparently have solved the mystery of why no one was found behind the steering wheel of a Tesla that crashed in a Texas two years ago, killing two men. The agency said in an investigative report released Wednesday on the fiery April 17, 2021 crash […]
16 hours ago
FILE - The exterior of the Pennsylvania Judicial Center, home to the Commonwealth Court in Harrisbu...
Associated Press

Major schools ruling in Pa. can’t guarantee more funding

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania is the latest state where the public school funding system was found to be unconstitutional, but the experience in other states suggests there’s no guarantee of swift, significant or longstanding change for the poorer school districts that sued in hopes of getting billions of dollars more for their budgets. Tuesday’s […]
16 hours ago
Sen. John Horhn, D-Jackson, stands with members of the Mississippi Legislative Black Caucus, and ex...
Associated Press

Lawmaker: Power struggle is ‘decapitation’ of Black-run city

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Black lawmakers in Mississippi are denouncing efforts by the majority-white and Republican-led state Legislature to grab power from the majority-Black and Democratic-led capital city of Jackson. “The actions being taken by our legislative leadership amount to a symbolic decapitation of Black elected leadership,” Democratic Sen. John Horhn of Jackson said Wednesday […]
16 hours ago
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a news conference at MVP Appliances in Ocala, Fla. Wednesda...
Associated Press

Florida GOP advances Disney district, migrant flight bills

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida lawmakers advanced proposals on Wednesday to strip Disney of its self-governing status, expand a controversial migrant transportation program and strengthen prosecutions tied to the state’s election police unit. The bills, part of a hastily called special legislative session in the GOP-controlled statehouse, are key priorities of Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis […]
16 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
UK’s Sunak vows to clear asylum backlog, return Albanians