NEWS

Immigrants become part of Greece

Despite the problems they face, the overwhelming majority of immigrants believe they made the right decision in coming to Greece, with 36 percent saying they want to stay here for ever. Another 27 percent say they want to stay in Greece for between six and 10 years, a detailed poll conducted among immigrants has found. Over the past decade, Greece has changed from a country that traditionally sent people abroad in search of a better life into a recipient country. These people have come to Greece mostly in search of work and have had to overcome problems such as the lack of a fixed immigration policy and racism, slowly becoming assimilated into Greek society. They have provided new impetus to the labor force and helped ease Greece’s demographic problem. The MRB company conducted a poll among 500 foreign-born people, who, in detailed personal interviews, revealed what the various groups among economic immigrants and political refugees feel about Greece. The poll was conducted in the Greater Athens area in June last year. Among its findings was that 92 percent of those polled said they had made the right decision in coming to Greece. Their biggest problems, they said, were racism and a sense of discrimination (according to 25.1 percent of those polled, with 29 percent of Albanians giving this response, as did 30.9 percent of those from Arab and African countries). Economic problems were a close second (24.9 percent), followed by unemployment (20.1 percent) and the fear of future deportation (17.9 percent). Difficulties in the procedure for getting residence permits, which came to a head this summer, was fifth on the list of migrants’ problems last year, with 9.1 percent citing this as the greatest problem they face in Greece. Last year, officials said some 700,000 migrants were in Greece legally. According to the MRB poll, about 51 percent are Albanians, some 22 percent are from other Eastern European and Balkan countries and more than 12 percent are Arabs and Africans. The overwhelming majority of Albanians live here with their families (81.5 percent), while, at the other extreme, 70.3 percent of Asian immigrants are here without their families. About half of those polled have been in Greece for between six and 10 years, with Albanians forming the majority of this group. One in six migrants has been here for more than 10 years, with most in this group being Arabs and Africans. The poll found 83 percent have adapted well or quite well, depending on knowledge of the language (with 62 percent of the total and 70 percent of migrants’ children speaking Greek well), years of residence, age and family status. Again, the best adapted appeared to be the Albanians, followed by those from other Balkans and Eastern European countries.