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Non-legal migrants in Greece flirting half million

Δημοσίευση 15 Ιανουαρίου 2011, 12:16 / Ανανεώθηκε 27 Ιουνίου 2013, 14:55
Non-legal migrants in Greece flirting  half million
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The number of non-legal migrants in Greece has risen some 60 percent to 470,000 in the last two years, according to estimates released by the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP). This represents a huge jump since the last estimates released by ELIAMEP two years ago in the framework of the EU's Clandestino programme, which then placed their numbers at around 280,000.

The number of non-legal migrants in Greece has risen some 60 percent to 470,000 in the last two years, according to estimates released by the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP). This represents a huge jump since the last estimates released by ELIAMEP two years ago in the framework of the EU's Clandestino programme, which then placed their numbers at around 280,000.

During a discussion on "Migration and the Economic Crisis" organised by ELIAMEP at the Ianos bookshop on Thursday night, researcher Thanos Maroukis said that 280,000 of the non-legal migrants were Albanians and other Europeans while the rest were from Asia and Africa.

Presenting the data from research conducted with fellow-ELIAMEP researcher Anna Triantafyllidou concerning the movements of migrants and refugees from Asia and Africa to Greece, Maroukis predicted that migration flow would not halt unless the EU and the United States changed their policies toward these countries.

As key factors encouraging migration he cited political instability and huge inequality in these countries and he predicted that the only change would be to the specific routes taken by migrants, which were proliferating along the EU's eastern borders.

"Traffic through the islands was not reduced because of FRONTEX but because the mines were removed from Evros and the cheaper prices for passage from there (3,000 euro for passage using the Aegean and just 300 euro via Evros)," he said.
Concerning government plans to erect a 12.5-kilometre fence along the Evros border, Maroukis predicted that this would not make any great difference.

"What difference will a fence make when for the past 10 years authorities at the border of Turkey and Iran have been shooting indiscriminately when they locate the presence of non-legal migrants? What difference will it make to people who don't even believe their own relations when they describe the 'hell of the West'?"

Among non-legal migrants in Greece, Maroukis distinguished between the communities that have been living in Greece for several years and "newly-formed" communities. Those belonging to the first group included Albanians, Pakistanis, Georgians and Bangladeshis.

He said non-legal Albanians tended to find work in the same sectors as legally resident Albanians and faced similar problems as a result of the crisis. Among the legal migrants, a large number lost their legal status as a result of being unemployed and had been forced to return.

An equivalent number of non-legal migrants went back to Albania and returned illegally to Greece for short-term seasonal work.
Following the crisis in Greece's construction sector, Albanians have been forced out of the construction jobs where they were "traditionally" employed in Greece and the majority are now employed in agricultural work.

Non-legal Pakistanis are chiefly employed in agricultural work but incidents of exploitation by employers are rampant and daily wages have dropped from 25-30 euro during the previous year to just 6-15 euro at present.
Bangladeshis live mainly by working in the fields or as street hawkers and beggars at traffic lights. According to Maroukis, he found no evidence that they were being exploited by gangs.

The second group of newly arrived migrant communities consists mainly of Afghans, Somalis, Algerians and Moroccans and people from the countries of West and sub-Saharan Africa. These groups mainly hope to reach other countries of western Europe and scrape a living while in Greece through occasional agricultural work or by offering cheap manual labour in cities, money borrowed from friends, credit extended by shops run by other migrants or money sent by relatives. Still others work in street markets, with other migrants as their main customers.

Maroukis noted that living conditions among the second group were often extremely bad, with neither proper food or shelter. Two or more families were often forced to share single rooms in winter or lived outdoors in summer and ate