Hundreds of migrants among those who began coming to Greece in the early 1990 in order to seek a better life for themselves and their families, are packing up their belongings, vacating their homes, mustering their courage and setting off for the one-way journey back home, compelled by the economic crisis.
The biggest outflow has been noted among the Albanian community in Greece, which has felt the effect of the slump, especially in the construction sector. In many neighborhoods around the capital you will see Albanian men taking their kids to the nearby playground or wiling away time in the local cafe because they no longer have a job to go to. The women, moreover, many of whom work as household help, are seeing more cancellations than new jobs.
“Many have been thinking about moving back home since last year, but their children, many of whom go to Greek school and do not speak Albanian, are the reason why they’re hesitating,” one member of the community told Kathimerini.
It is estimated that of the some 500,000 Albanians that lived in Greece, 50,000 have returned home since 2004. Others, meanwhile, are looking further afield. “A great percentage of our compatriots are planning to migrate West, to Canada or the USA,” noted journalist Frida Bedaj.
It is not just Albanians, however, who are finding fewer reasons to stay in Greece. Romanians, Bulgarians and Poles, now citizens of the European Union, are also returning to their own countries, which have been experiencing a significant boost in growth since their accession to the EU.
“It has become abundantly clear that they will find much better job opportunities there,” said Antypas.
“At first they used to visit their families once every year or so and stay for a month,” said Antypas. “Now, 30 percent left on their usual summer vacation, but they have not purchased a return ticket.”
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