Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 October 2017, 16:02 GMT

World Directory of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples - Greece : Albanians

Publisher Minority Rights Group International
Publication Date 2008
Cite as Minority Rights Group International, World Directory of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples - Greece : Albanians, 2008, available at: [accessed 18 October 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.


Greek government sources (in 2005) say that 634,000 Albanian citizens now reside legally in Greece. Migration experts say that is probably not the whole picture, as they believe another 150,000-200,000 Albanians may be in the country illegally. Little is known of their situation, since most of them work illegally in construction and farming and as domestic workers. Conflict between Greece and Albania, particularly over the Greek minority in Albania, has led to this group being subject to reprisals by the Greek government and to increasing popular hostility, fuelled by media stereotypes of Albanians as predatory criminals.

Historical context

In 1993, 20,000 Albanians were deported in one week in retaliation for Albania's deportation of a Greek Orthodox priest. The Albanian authorities complained that those expelled were badly beaten and that their belongings were destroyed. In 1994, a further 115,000 Albanians were deported over a six-month period, in response to the trial in Albania of members of the Greek minority organization Omonia. Greek landlords and employers were encouraged to report Albanians to the police. An attempt to reduce this tension was made in April 1995, when the Greek government agreed to legalize Albanian migrants with identity documents.

Current issues

According to the 2005 US Department of State Report, in August 2005 a new immigration law was passed that provides for legalization of undocumented migrants who could prove by a visa stamp or possession of a tax roll number that they entered the country before 31 December 2004. Immigrants and human rights organizations complained that, out of an estimated population of 450,000 undocumented immigrants, only a few thousand immigrants had been successfully legalized under the new law by the end of 2005 because many immigrants did not meet the qualification of legal entry into the country or due to stringent application requirements.

In 2006 the US Department of State Report noted that Albanian immigrants continue to face widespread societal discrimination, although Albanian community representatives said that it was slowly decreasing. Immigrants accused police of physical, verbal, and other mistreatment. They also reported the confiscation and destruction of personal documents, particularly during police sweeps to apprehend illegal immigrants. The media blamed Albanians and immigrants for a reported rise in crime in recent years. Amnesty International, Greek Helsinki Monitor, and the deputy ombudsman for human rights alleged that complaints of police ill-treatment of Albanians were rejected as unfounded, although the authenticity of the complaints was supported by documents such as certificates from state hospitals concerning recent injuries and issued shortly after the complainants' release from police stations. Albanian community leaders reported that it was difficult to be granted citizenship, even after all objective citizenship requirements had been met.

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