Albanian Irregular Migration to Greece: A New Typology of Crisis
[04/07/2013] [Griechenland] [Forschungsarbeit] [Mehrsprachig]
Beitrag von : Country Coordinator Greece
Autoren : Eda Gemi
Since the 1990’s, Albania has witnessed one of the greatest and most dramatic migration flows of its history. Today, over a million Albanians - about 27,5% of the total Albanian population and 35% of the active population (RoA, 2010) - have migrated abroad; by far the highest proportion amongst the Central and East European countries.
In the second decade of the twenty-first century Albanian migration continued, albeit at a lower scale, thus marking the end of highly intense mass migrations from the previous decade (Migrant Remittances, 2010:7). In the meantime, the phenomenon of voluntary return migration has emerged, mainly due the irregular or insecure situation of migrants and the on-going economic crisis.
In Greece, Albanians constitute by far the largest migrant community. The literature suggests that more than half of the migrant population in Greece is Albanians, with estimates referring to the pre-2005 period as high as 57.5% or even 65% of the total (Cavounidis & Chatzaki 2000, Kasimis 2004).
Τhe migratory movements of Albanians to Greece throughout the 1990s were temporary, predominantly irregular and involved semi-skilled, low-skilled, or unskilled migrants. They were generally employed on a seasonal or temporary basis, in labour intensive sectors noted for informal activity: agriculture, construction, tourism, small scale family factories and housekeeping. It is estimated that over 550,000 unauthorised migrants were working in Greece by the late 1990s, and most of them were employed in seasonal work, returning home in the off-season (Reyneri, 2001).
However, in the early 2000s, most of these irregular movements and employment evolved into permanent settlement. This was mainly due to the legalization procedures that were first introduced in 1998 and set the Greek state’s requirements for social insurance contribution in order to prove legal work and obtain/renew one’s residence permit (Maroukis and Gemi, 2011). Little is known of the segment of irregular Albanian migrants living in Greece today. The annual apprehensions data issued by the Greek Police are the main data source indicating numbers of irregular Albanian migrants.
While the land border between Greece and Albania used to be one of the main entry points of irregular migrants, the detections of illegal border-crossing reported at this border section dropped considerably over 85% (5,269) in 2011 comparing to 40,250 in 2009 (FRONTEX, 2012). This decrease follows the introduction of a visa free regime for Albanians as of 21 December 2010. However, reports suggest that Albanians are still irregular circular migrants in Greece but their irregularity, this time, is mainly related to their employment in the informal economy.
Evidence refer to the regular migrants losing the legal status and lapsing back into irregularity due to the high unemployment rates, which has been estimated to reach 36% for the third quarter of 2012 (Labour Force Survey, 2012c). Journalist sources, citing data provided by the Ministry of Interior, refer to about 130,000 to 140,000 Albanian migrant workers losing their stay permits because they were unable to secure the required number of social insurance stamps (IKA) in order to renew their documents in Greece. Yet, it is suggested that over 180,000 Albanians have returned to Albania in search of better employment prospects there (Interview no.1, ACIT, 2012).
Source : IRMA ELIAMEP