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Greece: Treatment of ethnic Albanians, including information on the Albanian community; whether blood feuds follow Albanians to Greece

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Publication Date 26 February 2014
Citation / Document Symbol GRC104756.E
Related Document(s) Grèce : information sur le traitement réservé aux Albanais de souche, y compris sur la communauté albanaise; information indiquant si les vendettas entre Albanais se poursuivent en Grèce lorsque ceux-ci s'y installent
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Greece: Treatment of ethnic Albanians, including information on the Albanian community; whether blood feuds follow Albanians to Greece, 26 February 2014, GRC104756.E , available at: [accessed 19 May 2023]
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.

1. Treatment of Ethnic Albanians in Greece

In correspondence with the Research Directorate, a professor of sociology at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, who has studied Albanian migration in Greece, stated that Albanians living in Greece face discrimination (Professor 4 Feb. 2014). The Professor explained that during the 1990s and early 2000s, "Albanians were subject to xenophobia, racism and discrimination" (ibid.). According to the Professor, Albanians faced discrimination in the housing market and faced institutional discrimination, particularly from the Greek police and border authorities, as well as from local immigration services (ibid.). The Professor expressed the view that since the mid-2000s, other migrant and refugee groups became victims of discrimination "more often" than Albanians (ibid.). However, in his opinion, "because Albanians constitute the largest migrant group in Greece and because the Greek immigration/integration policy framework is characterized by many shortcomings, Albanians may continue to face discrimination in Greece" (ibid.).

In correspondence with the Research Directorate, an assistant professor in the Department of Social Administration and Political Science at the Democritus University of Thrace, whose research focuses on welfare and local government in Greece, expressed the opinion that Albanians are the most "integrated immigration group, compared to other groups ... from European countries," however they face "informal discrimination" (Assistant Professor 29 Jan. 2014). Without providing details, the Assistant Professor stated that Albanians face "welfare marginalization as a result of informal classification and discrimination from front line officers" (ibid.). According to the Assistant Professor, Albanians "remain in low paid and low status jobs," such as construction for men and domestic work for women (ibid.). Media sources also report that many Albanians in Greece work in the construction sector (The Economist 14 Jan. 2012; Reuters 6 Apr. 2012).

Media estimates that there are between 500,000 and 1 million Albanians in Greece (Reuters 6 Apr. 2012; Balkan Insight 19 Jan. 2012). Several sources report that Albanian migrants who lived and worked in Greece were returning to Albania due to Greek economic crisis (The Economist 14 Jan. 2012; Balkan Insight 19 Jan. 2012; Greek Reporter 30 June 2013). The Greek Reporter, an English-language Greek newspaper, indicates in a June 2013 article that, according to the Albanian Center for Competitiveness and International Trade, approximately 18 to 22 percent of Albanian migrants (about 180,000 persons) returned to Albania (30 June 2013). Reuters reports that, "[r]eliable figures are hard to come by, but Albanian officials estimate that some 15 percent of the legal Albanian migrant community in Greece and the estimated 250,000 illegal migrants ha[ve] returned to Albania" (6 Apr. 2012).

According to the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network's publication Balkan Insight, the "Greek crisis has left large number of Albanian migrants unemployed and many are being forced" to return to Albania (19 Jan. 2012). Reuters reported in 2012 that the construction sector was down to 240,000 people from 400,000 in 2008 (Reuters 6 Apr. 2012). Moreover, "migrants can lose their legal status if they are jobless for long periods. Many are forced to accept work for lower pay or without social security benefits" (ibid.). Further or corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

1.1 Violence against Albanians

Sources report the following instances of violent attacks on Albanians in Greece:

In 2004, Albanian immigrants were attacked following victory of Albanian football team over Greece (Professor 4 Feb. 2014; MRG Oct. 2011). According to the Minority Rights Group International (MRG), one person was stabbed to death and "many others were injured" (ibid.). Le Monde similarly reports that the Albanian football team's victory over Greece caused a number of incidents, which resulted in one Albanian immigrant being stabbed on the Greek island of Zante (29 Mar. 2005).

Human Rights Watch indicates, in a report on xenophobic violence in Greece, that in May 2011, two Albanian nationals were attacked by a group of Greeks on the island of Crete (Human Rights Watch 2012, 67). As a result of the attack, one Albanian was hospitalized and another one suffered minor injuries (ibid.). According to the report, police were investigating whether the attack was racially-motivated (ibid.).

The Rights Equality and Diversity (RED) Network is an independent research network composed of 17 research and civil society organisations within European Union Member States, that reports on incidents of racist hate crime and discrimination (RED Network 2012). RED Network reported that in September 2011, an Albanian immigrant was injured in a machete attack in Kalyvia by individuals who reportedly spoke Greek (ibid. Mar. 2012, 27).

Without providing details, in an article about racist attacks against immigrants in Greece, Reuters reports that in May 2012, an Albanian national was stabbed on a street with a sword by a masked motorcycle rider (Reuters 14 Aug. 2012). The article noted that the attack may have been linked to right wing extremist vigilante groups (ibid.).

The RED Network reports that in June 2012, an Albanian and two Polish nationals were stabbed by individuals wearing motorbike helmets in Neos Kosmos in Athens (RED Network Jan. 2013, 12).

In July 2012, a British tourist of Albanian origin was verbally abused and beaten by police officers on duty at the Aghios Panteleimonas Police station, near Athens, when she went to the station to report the robbery of her cellular phone (ibid., 18).

Further or corroborating information on the incidents could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

2. Whether Blood Feuds Follow Albanians to Greece

In a telephone interview with the Research Directorate, a professor emeritus of history at the Indiana-Purdue University Fort Wayne, who has researched and written about Albanian blood feuds, stated that he "[did] not know of specific cases of blood feud violence in Greece, but [he] ha[s] read that blood feuds have been carried out by Albanians in Greece" (Professor Emeritus 3 Feb. 2014). The Professor Emeritus noted that he read about blood feuds in the Albanian press which occasionally referenced Greek articles (ibid. 22 Feb. 2014). Further information on whether blood feuds follow Albanians to Greece could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Assistant Professor, Democritus University of Thrace. 29 January 2014. Correspondence with the Research Directorate.

Balkan Insight. 19 January 2012. "Greek Crisis Turns Albanian Thoughts to Home." [Accessed 30 Jan. 2014]

The Economist. 14 January 2012. "Heading Home Again." [Accessed 20 Feb. 2014]

Greek Reporter. 30 June 2013. Margarita Papantouniou. "Albanians Giving up on Greece too." [Accessed 16 Jan. 2014]

Human Rights Watch. 2012. Hate on the Streets: Xenophobic Violence in Greece. [Accessed 26 Feb. 2014]

Minority Rights Group International (MRG). October 2011. "Greece: Overview." World Directory of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples. [Accessed 30 Jan. 2014]

Le Monde. 29 March 2005. Gilles Paris. "Les Israéliens craignent la fatigue face aux Bleus." [Accessed 20 Feb. 2014]

Professor, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. 4 February 2014. Correspondence with the Research Directorate.

Professor Emeritus, Indiana-Purdue University Fort Wayne. 22 February 2014. Correspondence with the Research Directorate.

_____. 3 February 2014. Telephone interview.

Reuters. 14 August 2012. Pheobe Fronista and Renee Maltezou. "Racist Attacks on the Rise in Greece - Migrants Group." [Accessed 26 Feb. 2014]

_____. 6 April 2012. Benet Koleka and Renee Maltezou. "FEATURE - For Albanians, Taste of Capitalism Turns Sour in Greece." [Accessed 20 Feb. 2014]

Rights Equality and Diversity (RED) Network. January 2013. Annual Report 2012. [Accessed 26 Feb. 2014]

_____. March 2012. Annual Report 2011. [Accessed 26 Feb.2014]

_____. 2012. "About the RED Network." [Accessed 26 Feb. 2014]

Additional Sources Consulted

Oral sources: Attempts to contact the following individuals and organizations were unsuccessful within the time constraints of this Response: an academic at the Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences; Albania - Albanian Embassy in Athens, General Consulate of Albania in Ioannina, General Consulate of Albania in Thessaloniki; Albanian Institute for International Studies; Albanian Roots, New York; Canada - Embassy of Canada to Greece in Athens; Greek Council of Refugees.

Internet sites, including: Albanian Institute for International Studies; Albanian National News Agency; Albpress; L'aménagement linguistique dans le monde; Amnesty International;; Athens News; Athens Times; The Balkan Chronicle; Balkan Human Rights Web; Constandinidou International Family Law; Council of Europe; Department of Balkan, Slavic and Oriental Studies, University of Macedonia;; EUR-lex; European Commission; European Council of Refugees and Exiles; European Court of Human Rights; Factiva; Fédération internationale des ligues des droits de l'homme; Freedom House; Greece - embassies of Greece in London, UK, Ottawa and Washington, DC,, Ministry of Interior, Ombudsman; Greek Council for Refugees; Greek Helsinki Monitor; Greek Herald; Greek Migrant Forum; Independent Balkan News Agency; Institute for Democracy and Mediation; Landinfo; Legislationline; Mediterranean Migration Observatory;;; Open Society Foundations; Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development; Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe; Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty; Research Center for Minority Groups; Research Institute for European and American Studies;; Small Arms Survey; South European Times; Tirana Times; United Nations - Integrated Regional Information Networks, Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights, Refworld, UN Development Program, UNHCR, UN Women; United States - Department of State, Embassy of the United States in Athens; World Council for Hellenes Abroad.

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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