Refugee attitudes - Greece

Due to its location, Greece has been a crucial migration destination for migration to Europe through the Mediterranean. The record of arrival was registered in 2015, when over 850,000 people arrived in Greece to seek asylum. In comparison, only 6,233 arrival have been registered since the beginning of 2021. Despite the number of arrival has dramatically decreased since 2015, it seems that Greek citizens are developing a neatly negative attitude towards migrants due to the tensions deriving from migration management in the country, and in particular due to the consequences of the dramatic condition of overcrowded refugees camps on Greeks islands.

A neat change in citizens’ attitude has followed the EU-Turkey Statement from 18th March 2016, which reinforced the practice of expelling irregular migrants from Greece to Turkey. A 2016 survey by Pew Research Center showed that the majority of Greeks thought that refugees posed a major threat to their country. The Eurobarometer Survey conducted in the same year confirmed that 70% of Greeks had negative feeling towards immigrants. This narrative has grown stronger over the years, as in a 2018 survey (Pew) 82% of people said they wanted fewer or no additional migrants in their country. In 2019, another survey revealed that 74% of citizens considered refugees as a burden, while the number of respondents who thought they can bring some relevant contribution to the Greek society has lowered from 19% in 2014 to 10% in 2019. Not by chance, 92% of Greeks showed deep dissatisfaction the EU’s migration policy.

Studies has showed that older and less educated people are more likely to develop anti-migrant feelings. This also applies to Greece, where the negative attitude among the older population rate reaches the 80% (Winkler, 2015). Conversely, an interesting study on Greek university students’ attitude towards their refugee colleagues demonstrates that more educated youngsters tends to be more conscious and empathic about the complexity of the refugee experience, when they have a possibility to actually be “in contact” with refugees.

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