NEWS

Some 180,000 Albanians left Greece for home in five years, report says

Some 180,000 Albanians, or about 20 percent of the Albanian population in Greece, returned to the neighboring Balkan nation between 2007-2012, a report by the Tirana branch of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) was cited by local media as saying.

The report by the American agency quoted in Tirana daily Shekulli suggests that Albanian authorities are concerned about the strain the wave of returning guest workers fleeing from the Greek economic crisis may have on the struggling country's welfare system, and particularly on education and healthcare - two sectors in which the government has been trying to limit costs.

The report suggests that the influx of returning migrants "may turn into a social bomb," though it concedes that in the long term it may bring multiple benefits to the property market, consumption and investments, among other areas of the economy.

According to Shekulli, USAID reported that of the around 180,000 guest workers who returned to Albania from Greece in the past five years, only 5 percent have registered for social security benefits, though it adds that the low number may be attributed to the fact that many are not informed about their social welfare rights in Albania.

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