A refugee from Albania who travelled in a dinghy across the English Channel has spoken to BBC’s Newsnight, sharing his story after he was deported back to his home country. Referred to as ‘Artan’, the man managed to film part of his journey across the water, despite threats from the people smugglers.
Artan chose not to claim asylum when he arrived in the UK, instead telling authorities that he had travelled as an economic migrant.
He was then deported back to Albania, where he met with Newsnight reporters.
Speaking about his passage to Dover, Artan said: “There were several traffickers, all armed with knives and pistols.
“They were repeatedly threatening us, saying not to film anything and not even to smoke.
“The money had been agreed in advance via a UK WhatsApp number – we paid £3500 each.”
He then showed video clips from his phone, which show rare footage of the dinghy crossing the Channel, although no one has been identified due to fear of reprisals from gang members.
Artan continued: “The journey across the Channel was torture, it was cold, stormy and incredibly scary.
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“They told us that they were coming to get us, that we mustn’t panic.
“They behaved well and seemed very welcoming and polite.
“We jumped to the UK police boat where we got life vests.”
Due to the economic situation in Albania, more than a third of those born in the country have now moved abroad.