An Albanian teenager has warned others from his homeland not to settle in the UK. Florjan Dibra, 15, travelled through Europe and took the treacherous journey across the English Channel in search of a new life. But he was left "terrified and sad" by the experience and has told his fellow countrymen not to take the same risk.
Schoolboy Florjan told the Mail on Sunday that last August he told his parents he was going on a short holiday abroad.
Instead, he secured an EU Visa and travelled by bus to Belgium, from where he paid £4,500 to make the trip across the Channel.
He hoped to join one of the UK's thriving Albanian communities and earn money as a car mechanic.
Instead, he spent five miserable months in the UK, some of the loneliest of his life, he told the publication.
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According to the Mail, journalists discovered the teen's name on Albanian police files, with authorities suspecting his family deliberately sent him abroad to earn cash.
The family said that "99 percent" of Albanian teens who leave the country do so in search of a better life promised by "traffickers".
Florjan said many of his school friends had "already gone to England to find work", and he followed suit.
After arriving in the UK via a crammed dinghy from Dunkirk, he said he told police he was "not claiming asylum" and wanted a "proper education and earn the kind of money that is impossible in Albania".
After being processed by British authorities, he was found a foster home but escaped with unnamed family members after feeling overwhelmed at school.
Barely speaking a word of English, Florjan primarily communicated via Google Translate.
His father, Sulejman, said he was "scared to death" of returning to his foster family in Somerset and "of the loneliness".
He added his son "didn't want to go back to that school where he knew no one".DON'T MISS BBC goes to war with critics as Gary Lineker returns to TV - INSIGHTWoman's organs found 'stuck together' after 11 years of misdiagnosis left her infertile - REPORTCouple puts £2 million 'dream' home they won for £10 on the market after less than a year - PICTURES
The experience has left an enduring mark on Florjan, who said his hopes of working as a mechanic are dashed.
He warned other Albanians not to make the same journey after discovering he doesn't "have a future in your country".
While Florian didn't make the trip to the UK for asylum, other Albanians have travelled to the country due to their home nation's economic troubles.
Approximately 12,301 people travelled from the country in 2022 for "economic opportunities", according to experts.
Speaking to the Home Affairs Select Committee in December last year, Balkans expert Andi Hoxhaj said approximately 40 percent of people leave the country searching for more money.
The drive to leave follows enduring issues caused by the Enver Hoxha dictatorship, as Albanian borders only opened again in 1990.
Corruption, poor pay and working conditions and low quality of life remain despite it now being a democracy.
A Gallup poll found that roughly 60 percent of Albanian adults wanted to leave in 2018.2023-03-19T11:54:46Z dg43tfdfdgfd