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90 Percent of Undocumented Immigrants Enter Europe Through Greece

90 Percent of Undocumented Immigrants Enter Europe Through Greece
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The world was alarmed by scenes of violent clashes between protesters and police in the central Syntagma Square earlier this year. Protests and strikes in Greece are generally peaceful and frequent. But lawlessness and crime are on the rise in Greece’s capital, Athens. The debt crisis means that revenues for the city are down 20 percent, though Athens is actually in better shape than the rest of the country. According to a Guardian article; Athens’ mayor Giorgos Kaminis says that a “mass influx of often desperate refugees” has only exacerbated the rise in crimes including robberies in the city:

…. a little further up the road [from Athens' city hall] Somalian prostitutes proposition pedestrians at all hours; a little further down, … beggars … cry “I’m hungry”, young men crouch in doorways doubled over with needles in hand.

“Where to begin?” asks Kaminis, sitting back in a low leather chair in his sparse sixth-floor office. “There is a flagrant lack of respect for the law, be it prostitution, human trafficking, drug dealing or organised crime. Some 7,000 addicts are on waiting lists for hospital care. Around Patission [a central avenue] there are areas that are so lawless you cannot even go after 6pm.”

Positioned on the edge of Europe and sharing a land border with Turkey, Greece is, like it or not, a gateway for migrants. 90 percent of the 128,000 people who entered the European Union illegally in 2010 came via Greece. People come from Asia, Africa, Iraq and Afghanistan; immigrants currently comprise 15 percent of Greece’s 11 million people (and half of Greece’s population lives in Athens). But with $413.6 billion (€300 billion) worth of debt — 150 percent of Greece’s GDP — and a government propped up by international bailouts and about to make drastic cuts to jobs and pensions for state workers, Greece is ill-equipped to assist undocumented immigrants.

In March, 300 migrant workers went on a hunger strike to protest the Greek government’s denying them legal status. After six weeks, the Greek government offered them temporary residence permits that will be automatically renewed every six months; individual cases will also be investigated, says the BBC.

The New York Times‘s magazine has some photos of an Athens the tour buses don’t take you to, of a police drug raid and a right-wing anti-immigrant group called the Golden Dawn. Where this photo of “one of the most affected neighborhoods in the center of Athens” was taken is not noted,  but I think it might be Omonia, an area that tour guides informed my students (I’ve taken students from my college to Greece for the past three years) to avoid.

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Photo of migrant strawberry pickers in Ilia by noborder network

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3:16AM PDT on Oct 18, 2011


9:25PM PDT on Sep 18, 2011


1:54AM PDT on Aug 7, 2011

Thanks for the info.

9:24PM PDT on Aug 5, 2011

noted, thanks

7:15PM PDT on Aug 5, 2011

Illegal immigration is mostly people running from problems.. what happens when there is no where to run?

11:54AM PDT on Aug 5, 2011

Worsening poverty provokes violence even more than bigotry does. The bigots are more inclined to invoke whatever it is that they are bigoted about as an excuse for their jealousy of their neighbors including those much less fortunate than themselves.

10:45AM PDT on Aug 5, 2011

I don't know why Greece should have a problem. They are getting so much of that wonderful diversity that we in North America prize so highly and find so important to our well being..

10:23AM PDT on Aug 5, 2011

Jez W.. They are in the UK. of course. You didn’t fond any in your kitchen ?

8:13AM PDT on Aug 5, 2011

How many times must I say this?? There is no such thing as an "undocumented" immigrant; of course and unless they lost their citizenship papers. And even then, they are not "undocumented" as they can get a copy of their documentation. An undocumented immigrant is an person who has immigrated illegally. There are in the country illegally. When will you wake up to the doublespeak of "political correctness"?. My mother was a housewife. She worked her butt off in the 50's and 60's from 6 AM to Midnight. I suppose in the doublespeak of political correctness we would call her a "domestic engineer" today. And those who wash windows could be called "transparency maintenance experts"...Come on, get real people.

6:35AM PDT on Aug 5, 2011

They have many of the same illegal alien problems as the US and I use alien because an immigrant is someone you legally let in. Greece has a big problem its economic problems this will only make thing worse for them I wish them luck.

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