NEWS

Crisis forcing migrants home

Thousands of immigrants who have lived in Greece for years, chiefly Albanians, are moving back to their homelands as the impact of the financial crisis bites into their incomes, Kathimerini has learned. Travel agencies across the capital are reporting a significant increase among migrants buying coach tickets to their native countries for themselves and their families. «My office is reserving tickets for about 10 families every month,» said Petros Matzaris, who runs an agency in central Athens that organizes coach trips to Albania. He said the exodus began about two years ago and has peaked in recent months. «We are expecting another big wave of departures now that schools are closing for summer,» Matzaris said. He said many families are leaving earlier than usual for their summer vacations as work has dried up. Many have no intention of returning while some will send back their wives and children so the youngsters can finish school, he added. Nikita Tsiprian, who works in another travel agency on central Acharnon Street, reported the same trend. «Some construction workers tell me that they have hardly had any work at all for the past six months,» he said. Most of the migrants leaving Greece are Albanians, with smaller numbers from Bulgaria and the countries of the former Soviet bloc.