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Religion and Forced Displacement in Greece

Article by Georgios E. Trantas and Eleni D. Tseligka

July 23, 2020

Religion and Forced Displacement in Greece

After the fall of the Iron Curtain, Greece, until then a country of emigration, became a receiving country for immigrants primarily from the Balkan region. This migratory inflow diversified in the 2000s, with an increase in irregular migrants from Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Yet the country was met with the most notable humanitarian challenge in 2015, during the largest migration and refugee crisis in Europe since the end of the Second World War. The Orthodox Church of Greece (OCG) and its non-governmental organisations (NGOs) made a significant contribution to dealing with the increased arrivals of refugees, asylum seekers and irregular immigrants. The influx, albeit fluctuant, still constitutes a challenge today as the numbers continue to rise. Moreover, all institutions involved must be sure to provide relief while improving their efficiency, which requires the solidarity of the European Union (EU) and its Member States. At the same time, Greece is called upon to respond to the challenges while taking into account both the humanitarian aspect, and its obligation to safeguard the external borders of the EU in light of Europe’s populist resurgence. This report suggests that within the framework of deeper European collaboration, Greece will on the one hand have to prioritise the needs of refugees and other vulnerable groups, by definition a task for the OCG, while on the other hand effectively controlling irregular migration.


Religion, ethnicity and population

The latest census conducted in Greece in 2011 by the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) found that the country’s total resident population is 10,816,286, of which 91.6 per cent are Greek citizens, 1.8 per cent are citizens of another EU state, 6.5 per cent come from third countries, and 0.04 per cent are of unspecified citizenship or stateless persons.[1] The census did not collect data on religious affiliation amongst Greek residents, but according to a PEW Forum quantitative study in 2016 on the Religious Landscape of Central and Eastern Europe, 90 per cent of Greeks identify as Orthodox Christians, four per cent identify with one of the other Christian denominations including Catholicism, two per cent identify as Muslims, while another four per cent were recorded as unaffiliated.[2] However, in another report of the PEW Forum, also in 2016, the percentage of Muslims in Greece appears to be 5.7 per cent, following the 2015 peak of the refugee crisis.[3] The United States’ government estimates that the percentage of Orthodox Christians in Greece ranges between 81 per cent and 90 per cent percent, while four per cent to 15 per cent are atheists and two per cent are Muslims. A remaining three per cent to five per cent of Greece’s total population, includes Orthodox Old Calendarists, Catholics, Protestants, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Jews, members of Ancient Greek polytheistic religions, Scientologists, Bahá’í, Mormons, Sikhs, Buddhists and members of the Hare Krishna movement.[4]


The lack of concrete, reliable quantitative data on the size of all religious communities that comprise the entirety of Greece’s population makes the study of corresponding social groups difficult. This issue also concerns the lack of qualitative data on what constitute essentially unknown parts of the general population, which hinders the drafting of necessary policies. It follows, that because Greece is not a destination but rather a transit country for refugees and immigrants – although it is not uncommon for them to remain in host structures, reception centres and hotspots indefinitely – the numbers concerning their demographic data are merely estimates. Keeping a tally of migrants is particularly difficult since they tend to move around the country in their search for ways out of Greece and into Central and Northern Europe via the Balkan Route, or because of the poor living conditions in host structures. Furthermore, when their applications for asylum are rejected, they tend to disappear under the radar of the authorities. Limitations also apply because the capacity of the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and International Organization for Migration (IOM) tracking systems does not always measure up to the size of the migratory movement. Furthermore, the relevant authorities have inadequate access to and information about routes taken by migrants, who do not always cooperate with efforts to count and register them. Data collection can be particularly challenging when dealing with clandestine irregular migration that occurs alongside refugee movement.[5] In sum, any census and statistical study can only account for the permanent, registered and traceable residents of the country. Moreover, the last census took place in 2011, well before the refugee and migrant crisis that peaked in 2015 and continues to date, while the inflows fluctuate in terms of their volume and demographic composition. Indicatively, according to the UNHCR, since 2015 a significant drop has occurred, with the number of arrivals falling from 861,630 in 2015, 177,234 in 2016 and 36,310 in 2017. Yet, a rise in numbers was observed in 2018 with 50,508 arrivals, followed by 71,368 by December 15th 2019.[6]


Religion-state relations

The centrality of religion for the Orthodox communities of Southeastern Europe predates the notion of the nation-state itself, whereby, with the emergence of national entities in the region, Orthodoxy was identified with the Greek nation and its psyche, and ultimately became part of its self-image as a collectively perceived constituent element of identity within the context of the Helleno-Christian construct, as part of the nation-building process. It follows that the Greek state has been closely linked to the Orthodox Church of Greece (OCG) ever since the founding of the latter (1833), and abides by this special relationship to date, notwithstanding the ideological orientation of consecutive governments.


In turn, the OCG considers its close relationship with the state a sine qua non and as legitimated, both by history and by its own formative contribution to the Greek-Orthodox particularity. Moreover, the well-being of the state and its people, the safeguarding of the national interest and the preservation of the Hellenic-Orthodox identity is for the OCG a raison d’être.[7] It enjoys, directly or indirectly, the widespread social acceptance and sway required to have a role and a say in the socio-political affairs of the state.


One year after the fall of the junta regime (1974), the 1952 constitution, which was adopted as an interim solution, was replaced by that of 1975. Within its broader context of reviews, revisions and amendments, it repositioned church–state relations, inclining them towards a more secularist direction. For example, the prerequisite that the president be Orthodox and swear to safeguard the creed was removed. Reference to proselytism was omitted from Article 3 and was inserted in Article 13 as a prohibition of ‘proselytism against any faith’ instead. The revised Article 3 guaranteed freedom of worship while acknowledging Orthodoxy as the ‘prevailing faith’, thus constitutionally rendering the OCG an established church instead of a state institution.[8]


The constitution of 1975 is of particular significance as it marked the ushering in of the Third Hellenic Republic and the shift to a democratic polity, and it is still in force. It has been amended three times since its adoption; in 1986, 2001 and 2008. Although no changes have been made as regards religious affairs, it is worth noting that the amendment of 2001 was adopted with extensive parliamentary consensus – four fifths of the Members of Parliament – and introduced new fundamental individual rights. Namely, it is stated that ‘everyone has the right…to the protection of one’s genetic identity’, as well as to ‘participation in the Information Community’ and to the electronically produced, exchanged and disseminated information thereof (Article 5 and 5A).[9] As regards church–state relations, Article 3 still defines Eastern Orthodoxy as the prevailing faith by declaring that the ‘predominant religion in Greece is the religion of the Eastern Orthodox Church of Christ’, while Article 13 on religious freedom, guarantees that ‘the freedom of religious conscience is inviolable’ and that ‘every known religion is free’ and its worship is ‘practiced unobstructed under the protection of the law’, while ‘proselytism is forbidden’.[10]


Recent discussions and suggestions at parliamentary level regarding the constitutional amendment and revision of Article 3, leading to the separation of church and state, have not yielded fruit so far. Any expectations that the required parliamentary consensus might be reached to that end in the foreseeable future would be misplaced, considering how unpopular such an initiative would likely be, particularly in light of the pronounced linkage between Orthodoxy and the broadly perceived notions of Modern Greek identity and particularity. Indeed, the amendment proposal of SYRIZA in late 2018, when the party was still in government under Alexis Tsipras, suggested that Article 3, among others, should be revised in order to explicitly declare the neutrality of the state towards religion while acknowledging Orthodoxy as the predominant faith, albeit without that constituting its recognition as an official state religion.[11] However, constitutional amendments require the vote of at least 180 of the 300 Members of Parliament, and a consensus as such was not reached as regards Articles 3, 13, 33 and 59, which pertain to the religious neutrality of the state, the religious oath and the discrete separation between church and state. These proposed amendments failed to gain, in particular, the support of New Democracy, the current ruling party, which countered that the constitution is already equipped to guarantee all those principles. [12]


Religion and forced displacement

Concerning incoming refugees, there were no formal or regular structures to administer the necessary services to the forcefully displaced Greek population of Asia Minor, with the involvement of the Refugee Relief Fund (RRF), Save the Children Fund and the Red Cross, being merely an ad hoc arrangement following the Greek Catastrophe in Asia Minor (1922) and the subsequent Lausanne Convention of January 30th 1923.[13] The aftermath of the defeat of Greek forces in Asia Minor caused an unprecedented refugee flight from Turkey. Their exact number is difficult to estimate; their volume, combined with the hasty nature of their displacement and ensuing lack of coordination did not allow them to be properly registered upon arrival. However, according to the general population census of May 5th 1928, they amounted to 1,221,849 persons, in a population of approximately five million in total. According to the League of Nations the number of refugees who entered Greece at the time was much higher, probably 1,4 million, but between 1922 and 1928 75,000 died due to extreme poverty and a further 66,000 managed to emigrate to Egypt, parts of Western Europe and the United States.[14]


The Second World War brought forth another catastrophe, via the displacement of the Jewish Greeks and the Holocaust that eradicated Greek Jewry almost in its entirety. Although the demographic information is not precise, there is a scholarly consensus as regards the estimates. Before the Nazi occupation, the Greek-Jewish population amounted to approximately 80,000 people; during the Nazi occupation, between 60,000 and 65,000 Greek Jews were deported to Auschwitz, with only 2,500 surviving the ordeal. The Jewish community of Thessaloniki, for instance, which numbered approximately 56,000 in 1939, was almost completely obliterated along with its social and cultural life, with only 500 surviving, primarily due to their Spanish citizenship. This tragedy was slightly mitigated in Athens, where Archbishop Damaskinos and the Chief of Police, Angelos Evert, provided several members of the Jewish community with false certificates of baptism and identity cards. Moreover, the community there had an Athenian accent and could thus blend in more with the local population, which also tended to be more sympathetic as compared with that of Thessaloniki, hence, 45 per cent of Athenian Jews, i.e. 3,500 people, survived.[15] Greece’s post-WWII Jewish population was estimated at approximately 10,000.[16]


Up until the fall of the Iron Curtain, Greece was predominantly a country of emigration, particularly since the late 19th century, and then during the interwar period, followed by a peak in emigration in the post-WWII era, which lasted until the mid-1970s. It is estimated that between 1961 and 1974 two million people emigrated from Greece to seek employment abroad; this number corresponds to one fifth of the country’s total population in 1974.[17] The main destinations were the USA, Australia and Germany. With the repatriation of the Greek Gastarbeiter (guest-workers), and the lack of reintegration provisions on the part of the state, the OCG established the Integration Centre for Migrant Workers (ICMW) in 1978, with the aim of supporting returnees from German-speaking countries.[18]


Post 1989, the migratory paradigm shifted and western-aligned Greece became a refuge for ethnic Greeks from the former Soviet Union, with Kazakhstan and Georgia being the main countries of origin. Approximately 160,000 Pontic Greeks entered the country between 1990 and 1993.[19] To exempt the diasporic repatriates from the restrictions on work and residency imposed by law on immigrants of foreign descent, they were acknowledged with the term omogeneis (people of the same lineage) – also known as palinnostountes i.e. ‘returnees of Greek descent’ – and thus differentiated from the allogeneis (people of different lineage), under a law passed in 1991.[20] State structures proved inadequate in dealing with this humanitarian crisis. In addition, irregular migration from Albania in the 1990s constituted the most notable population movement, with the estimates amounting to approximately 600,000 people. The fall of the communist regime in Albania brought forth an interruption in industrial production and the loss of thousands of jobs in the public sector. In 1989, 20 per cent of the Albanian population was between the ages of 15 and 24 and the increased unemployment and economic instability of the state made emigration to the West very attractive for many young Albanians. Greece, as a member of the European Economic Community and later the EU, was the first country of choice for Albanian migrants due to the shared land border, which made crossing safer compared to passage to Italy that required travelling by sea.[21] Furthermore, Greece maintained an open door policy for ethnic Greeks of Albanian nationality, who were treated as omogeneis under the above-mentioned 1991 law, and became the first links of chain migration from Albania.[22] The integration of such numbers, albeit not unproblematic due to the initial lack of social and institutional preparation and planning, happened organically and successfully, which is attested by how inconspicuous the Albanian community is among the general population, regardless of religious creed.[23]


The character of migratory trends has gradually shifted since the beginning of the 2000s, when an increase in arrivals from Africa, Asia and the Middle East has been observable, alongside an influx from the Balkans. By 2005, the total number of international migrants in Greece amounted to approximately one million, with 200,000 being undocumented.[24] A significant increase in the number of asylum seekers and irregular migrants, particularly from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iraq and Afghanistan was noted from 2007 onwards, with most arrivals coming by boat through the Aegean Sea. A shift in that pattern was observed from 2010, demonstrated by an increased inflow of irregular migrants from Asia and Africa seeking passage to other EU destinations, and crossing into Greek territory via the land border with Turkey, especially at the river Evros border and constituting approximately 85 per cent of all detected illegal border crossings at EU level. The shift to entry by land resulted from the assistance Greece received from FRONTEX, the EU border and coastguard agency, in patrolling its sea borders.


Greece sought to cope with the large influx of immigrants with new legislation. Law 3536/2007, ‘Determining matters in migration policy and other issues falling into the competence of the Ministry of Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization’ was introduced as a revision of the main legislative instrument on migration, Law 3386/2005, on the ‘Entry, residence and social integration of third country nationals into the Greek territory’, regulating the unification of residence and work permits, as well as introducing the ‘reflection period’ for victims of trafficking. However, according to data from FRONTEX, Greece remained the major gateway of undocumented migrants and asylum seekers from Africa and Asia. In 2011, the European Court of Justice found that 90 per cent of all irregular entries into the EU had passed through Greek borders. Law 3907/2011 represents a further attempt by the Greek state to establish a realistic migration management system through the independent Asylum Service, the operation of First Reception Centres and the adaptation of Greek legislation to Community Directive 2008/115/EC on the return of irregular migrants.[25]


In 2015, as the first country of entry to the EU for the majority of these incomers, Greece became the epicentre of the biggest migration and refugee crisis in Europe since the end of the Second World War. According to the National Authorities of IOM in Greece, the total number of entries from January 1st 2015 to November 26th 2019 was 1,181,827 persons.[26] While for many migrants Greece remains a transit country en route to Central and Northern Europe, there is still a significant percentage for which Greece is the destination country. In 2018, 11 per cent of EUs total first-time applications for asylum were submitted in Greece, making the country the third most popular destination in the EU after Germany and France. Syrian nationals remain the largest population group of asylum seekers in Europe since 2013. In 2018, asylum applications submitted by Syrians in the EU constituted 13.9 per cent of total applications, followed by those submitted by Afghan (7.1 per cent), Iraqi (6.8 per cent) and Pakistani (4.3 per cent) citizens. In 2018, Greece received nearly 65,000 new applications, of which 13,145 were submitted by Syrians, 11,820 by Afghans, 9,640 by Iraqis, 7,185 by Pakistanis and the remaining by various other nationalities.[27] The emergent pattern from the yearly sum of new arrivals to Greece between 2014 and 2019 shows a gradual increase since 2017 when the numbers were significantly down on the previous years (see Table 1 below).[28] A new peak, like that of 2015-16, can prove immensely challenging from a humanitarian and logistical perspective, not to mention the political dimension for all actors involved, directly and indirectly, including the EU.


 Table 1. Refugee numbers in Greece, 2014-19


The OCG, through its own NGOs, has been heavily involved in dealing with the humanitarian aspect of the problem, even before the peak of the Syrian refugee crisis. It did so initially through its existing organisation and structures, which were intended to serve other purposes. For instance, the ICMW, which has been active since 1978 to assist former Greek guest-workers, and Apostoli, (‘Mission’), founded in 2010 to deal with the social problems of the Greek debt crisis.[29] Notably, Apostoli collaborates with the UNHCR within the framework of the ESTIA accommodation scheme and mostly focuses on unaccompanied minors and the vulnerable.[30] Initially its main purposes related to dealing with social problems pertaining to poverty, but its resources and foci were diverted in order to deal with the mounting issues of migrants. In 2012, the OCG founded a new structure, which succeeded the ICMW, under the name Integration Centre for Migrant Workers – Ecumenical Refugee Programme (ICMW-ERP), and focuses on asylum seekers, refugees and immigrants.[31] It is funded, among other sources, by the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church of Greece, the UNHCR and Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe.[32] In summary, its services range from legal assistance, translation, social support, family reunification to international collaborative initiatives, including inter-ecclesiastical programmes.[33]


As of 2002 the ICMW has been involved in combating human trafficking via its participation in a programme led by the Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe (CCME) and in cooperation with Caritas Europe. It also took part in the STOP programme, as well as in the actions that succeeded it, known as Christian Action and Networking against Trafficking (CAT). [34] In this framework, the ICWM focused on the collaboration with state structures in combatting trafficking and slavery, supporting the victims of and forced prostitution.[35] Notably, the ICMW identified the inadequacy of knowledge and insight on the part of the state with regard to Muslim immigrants in Athens, and criticised this as a root cause of the lack of policies and integration strategies. Moreover, it conducted its own research in order to identify and document informal places of worship as well as the denominational, linguistic, ethnic, national and other qualitative characteristics therein.[36]


However, following its restructure and rebranding in 2012, which coincided chronologically with the outbreak of the Syrian civil war, as stated above, the ICMW-ERP repositioned its purposes and scope. Although special emphasis is placed on the vulnerable groups eligible for international protection and the socially vulnerable, i.e. unaccompanied minors, single-parent families, pregnant women, and persons of poor health etc.[37] According to its statute, its primary target groups are, besides Greek migrant returnees, refugees, asylum seekers and those groups that adhere to a humanitarian legal regime and are eligible for international protection, and those eligible for legalisation.[38]


Recent examples of the involvement of ICMW-ERP initiatives and cooperation include the programme ‘Rebuild our Lives – Legal Aid for Refugees in Athens’, with the support of Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe, the purpose of which was to provide legal and social support to those eligible for international protection.[39] Also, with the support of the UNHCR, the programme ‘Bringing Families Together 2018 – Legal Counselling / Assistance for Family Reunification of Persons of Concern with Specific Needs’ was realised. Its main purpose was to provide information, legal advice and assistance, translation services, as well as psychological and social support to asylum seekers who wish to be reunified with their families in the framework of Dublin III.[40] Particular emphasis was placed on unaccompanied minors and single-parent families.[41] Moreover, the Federation of Protestant Churches of Switzerland contributed, via the Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe (CCME), to the ‘Legal Aid for Backlog Cases of Ecumenical Refugee Programme’ that focused on processing long-standing reunification applications, via legal advice and representation of recognised refugees.[42] In addition, the ICMW-ERP, with the help of the Evangelical Church in the Rheinland (Evangelische Kirche im Rheinland) has provided legal and psychosocial support to particularly vulnerable cases.[43]


It must be noted that the need for successful, essential programmes has been recognised, and hence, alternative funding has secured their continuation. For instance, the Swiss Embassy intervened and secured the funding of legal and psychosocial support for vulnerable cases in relation to family reunification.[44] The same applies to the aforementioned programme ‘Rebuild our Lives’, which is now supported by Bread for the World, a sister organisation of Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe.[45] There is a range of similar examples that denote the role of the OCG in dealing with the refugee and migrant crisis, which is indicative but not exhaustive of its role and initiatives.


Policy perspectives

The OCG and its NGOs, as stated above, have made a valuable contribution in dealing with the influx of refugees, asylum seekers and irregular immigrants. This has been attested by its participation in international programmes and the acknowledgement of its crucial role by the Greek government. However, the ongoing immigration and refugee crisis cannot be dealt with by the church and its collaborating organisations alone. It is not even a solely Greek problem, but rather a European one. However, being the entry point to Europe and a hub on the Balkan route, Greece has more complicated responsibilities, while concurrently dealing with the consequences of the debt-crisis, notwithstanding the improvement of economic figures.


First and foremost, Greece, as an effective humanitarian refuge and in keeping with EU principles and values, has the inevitable duty to provide those in need with legal representation, translation services, safe and dignified lodgings, allowances for initial expenses, regular medical care and emotional support, access to education, language courses and training, as well as opportunities of integration. In tandem with the state, the OCG has been at the forefront of Greece’s response to these tasks, and will continue to be, but such services are certainly demanding in resources. In order to reduce the long backlog, apart from additional funding and the recruitment of trained staff to speed up the processing of cases, the church, in collaboration with the state, will need to continue to prioritise those in need, comprising, among others, vulnerable groups such as unaccompanied minors, families, victims of human trafficking, refugees and generally cases that constitute a humanitarian emergency. This essentially means applying a two-tier system, which distinguishes between vulnerable and non-vulnerable groups at the first reception stage. This distinction is essential as irregular migration burdens the overwhelmed system and its structures at the expense of those genuinely in need, or eligible to apply for asylum.


For the OCG, dealing with migration as a whole would be an impossible task, which is best left to the state. The church and its NGOs are better versed, structured, equipped and experienced to take the lead on the humanitarian aspect, while prioritising vulnerable groups. Hence, the qualitative division of labour should best be maintained. However, both the ICMW-ERP and Apostoli will have to be reinforced with additional staff and funding so as to reduce the backlog. In order to deal with the humanitarian challenges logistically, the state will need to better monitor the influx, residence and outflow of refugees and immigrants, keep a reliable and up-to-date register and database of this information, and make it available to the church and the corresponding international institutions.


Furthermore, irregular migration, while not the main cause, has been a catalyst in the resurgence of populism, which erodes support for European integration.[46] Therefore, Greece, as an EU Member State, must help counter populism in Europe by disproving arguments about an open-door policy, and show itself to be in control, by containing en masse irregular migrant movement and thereby its political utilisation and mediatisation. By extension, it must help preserve EU freedom of movement, a privilege often weakened by intra-EU and Schengen border controls and prevent the future suspension of a fundamental EU freedom as such. This entails guarding the national and external EU borders more effectively with the reinforcement of FRONTEX in the Aegean Sea and Thrace. In the same vein, it must coordinate its efforts with other EU Member States in order to speed up the repatriation of those whose asylum application has been rejected and collectively exert unitary pressure on the safe countries of origin to cooperate. Finally, the OCG and the relevant state ministries must insist on the reform or replacement of the Dublin Convention with a more pertinent framework, and insist on EU solidarity as a principle stemming from the equality between Member States.


Georgios E. Trantas is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Postdoctoral Fellow at Aston University, Birmingham, United Kingdom. His recent publications include ‘Greek-Cypriot Religiocultural Heritage as an Indicator of Fundamental Rights and a Means to Cultural Diplomacy’, in Giordan G. & Zrinščak S. (eds.), Global Eastern Orthodoxy: Politics, Religion, and Human Rights (Springer, 2020), ‘The Orthodox Church of Greece: Church-State Relations, Migratory Patterns and Sociopolitical Challenges’, in Leustean L.N. (ed.), Forced Migration and Human Security in the Eastern Orthodox World (Routledge, 2019), ‘Greek-Orthodox Religioscapes as Domains of Migratory Integration and Hybridisation in Germany and Great Britain: A Comparative Study’, Politics and Religion Journal, (13) 2, (2019), pp.309-332, ‘The Question of a Contemporary Greek-Orthodox Economic Ethic’. Zeitschrift für Balkanologie, 54 (2), (2018), pp.217-228, and Being and Belonging: A Comparative Examination of the Greek and Cypriot Orthodox Churches’ Attitudes to ‘Europeanisation’ in Early 21st Century (Peter Lang, 2018).


Eleni Tseligka is a Teaching Associate in Politics and International Relations at Aston University, Birmingham, United Kingdom. Her latest publications include From Gastarbeiter to European Expatriates (Peter Lang, 2020) and ‘Greek Diaspora in Germany: Church as the Ecclesia’s Forerunner and Point of Reference’ in Giuseppe Giordan and Siniša Zrinščak (eds.), Global Eastern Orthodoxy: Politics, Religion, and Human Rights (Springer, 2020).


Cover photo: ‘Tourists and refugees in Monastiraki Square, Athens, May 2014’. Copyright: Georgios E. Trantas


[1] Hellenic Statistical Authority, ‘Greece in Figures’, (2019), available at . All websites accessed on 2 December 2019.

[2] Pew Research Center, ‘Religious Belief and National Belonging in Central and Eastern Europe’, (2017), available at

[3] Pew Research Center, ‘Europe’s Growing Muslim Population’, (2017), available at

[4] U.S. Embassy & Consulate in Greece, ‘Report on Religious Freedoms 2018: Greece’, (2019), available at

[5]  Global Migration Data Portal, ‘Forced migration or displacement’, (2019), available at

[6] UNHCR, ‘Operational Portal – Mediterranean Situation’, (2019), available at

[7] Georgios E. Trantas, Being and Belonging: A Comparative Examination of the Greek and Cypriot Orthodox Churches’ Attitudes to ‘Europeanisation’ in Early 21st Century [Erfurter Studien zur Kulturgeschichte des Orthodoxen Christentums – BAND 16], Frankfurt-am-Main: Peter Lang, 2018.

[8] John S. Koliopoulos and Thanos M. Veremis, Modern Greece: A History since 1821, Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010, pp.154-55, as well as John S. Koliopoulos and Thanos M. Veremis, Greece: The Modern Sequel. From 1821 to the Present, London: Hurst and Co., 2002.

[9] Syntagma tēs Ellados (Constitution of Greece), Athens: Hellenic Parliament, 2010, p. 21.

[10]Ibid., pp.19; 26.

[11] The ‘Coalition of the Radical Left’ (Synaspismos Rizospastikēs Aristeras, Gr.: Συνασπισμός Ριζοσπαστικής Αριστεράς); Protasē tou Proedrou kai Vouleftōn tēs K.O. tou SYRIZA gia tēn anatheorēsē diataxeōn tou Syntagmatos, symfona me ta arthra 110 tou Syntagmatos kai 119 tou Kanonismou tēs Voulēs (Suggestion of the President and Members of Parliament of SYRIZA for the amendment of constitutional laws, in accordance with articles 110 of the constitution and 119 of the Parliament Regulation, Protocol No.: 4636, Date: 2/11/2018, available at

[12] The oath taken by the members of newly appointed governments ‘in the name of the Holy and Cosubstantial and Indivisible Trinity’. Likewise, heterodox or believers of other creeds take the oath as is customary in their own faiths, while a secular oath is also permitted in the existing constitutional and legal framework; Nea Dēmokratia, Gr.: Νέα Δημοκρατία.

[13] Tameion Prostasias Prosfygōn, Gr.: Ταμείον Προστασίας Προσφύγων; Concerned strictly with the population exchange, not to be confused with the Peace Treaty of July 24th 1923.

[14] John S. Koliopoulos and Thanos M. Veremis, Greece: The Modern Sequel. From 1821 to the Present, London: Hurst and Co., 2002, pp. 89-100, as well as Renée Hirschon (ed.), Crossing the Aegean: An Appraisal of the 1923 Compulsory Population Exchange Between Greece and Turkey [Studies in Forced Migration Vol.12], New York, NY: Berghahn Books, 2004. Also, Elisabeth Kontogiorgi, Population Exchange in Greek Macedonia: The Forced Settlement of Refugees. Cary: Oxford University Press, 2006.

[15] Gail Holst-Warhaft, ‘The Tragedy of the Greek Jews: Three Survivors’ Accounts’, Holocaust and Genocide Studies, 1999, 13 (1), pp.98-108. Also, Andrew Apostolou, ‘“The Exception of Salonika”: Bystanders and Collaborators in Northern Greece’, Holocaust and Genocide Studies, 2000, 14 (2), pp.165-196.

[16] Dan Georgakas, ‘The Jews of Greece: A Chronology’, Journal of Modern Hellenism, 23 – 24, 2007, pp.1-11.

[17] Dimitris Charalambis, Laura Maratou-Alipranti and Andromachi Hadjiyanni, Recent Social Trends in Greece, 1960-2000, Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2004.

[18] Georgios E. Trantas, ‘The Orthodox Church of Greece: Church-State Relations, Migratory Patterns and Sociopolitical Challenges’ in Lucian N. Leustean (ed.). Forced Migration and Human Security in the Eastern Orthodox World, London: Routledge, 2019, pp. 164-206.

[19] Lina Venturas, ‘‘Deterritorialising’ the Nation: The Greek State and ‘Ecumenical Hellenism’, in Dimitris Tziovas (ed.) Greek Diaspora and Migration Since 1700: Society, Politics and Culture, Abingdon: Ashgate, 2009, pp.125-140.

[20] Ibid.

[21] Kosta Barjarba, ‘Migration and Ethnicity in Albania: Synergies and Interdependencies’, Brown Journal of World Affairs, 2004, 11 (1), pp. 231-239.

[22] Chain migration is defined as ‘that movement in which prospective migrants learn of opportunities, are provided with transportation, and have initial accommodation and employment arranged by means of primary social relationships with previous migrants’. See John S. MacDonald and Leatrice D. MacDonald, ‘Chain Migration, Ethnic Neighbourhood Formation and Social Networks’, The Milbank Memorial Fund Quarterly, (42) 1, (1964), pp. 82-97.

[23] Ifigeneia Kokkali, ‘Albanian Immigrants in the Greek City: Spatial ‘Invisibility’ and Identity Management as a Strategy of Adaptation’ in Hans Vermeulen, Martin Baldwin-Edwards and Riki van Boeschoten (eds.), Migration in the Southern Balkans, Heidelberg: Springer, 2015, pp. 123–142.

[24] Ruby Gropas and Anna Triandafyllidou, Migration in Greece at a Glance, Athens: ELIAMEP – Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy, October 2005, p.7.

[25] International Organisation of Migration (IOM), ‘IOM in Greece General Information’, (2019), available at

[26] Interational Organisation of Migration (IOM), ‘Flow Monitoring Europe Arrivals to Greece’, (2019), available from

[27] Eurostat, ‘Asylum statistics’, (2019), available from

[28] UNHCR, ‘Operational Portal – Mediterranean Situation’, (2019), available from

[29] Ekklesia, ‘Hē Nea ΜΚΟ tēs Archiepiskopēs “Apostoli” egkainiastēke stis 23 Noemvriou 2010’ (The New Archbishopric NGO “Mission” was Inaugurated on November 23rd 2010’), Ekklesia, 87 (11), 2010, p.901.

[30] ESTIA is a UNHCR-funded urban accommodation and cash assistance scheme for refugees and asylum-seekers. For further information see UNHCR Greece, ‘ESTIA’, (2017), available from

[31] Orthodox Church of Greece, ‘«Κentro Symparastaseōs Palinnostountōn kai Metanastōn – Oikoumeniko Programma Prosfygōn», Istoriko’ (“Integration Centre for Migrant Workers – Ecumenical Refugee Programme”, History) available from

[32] An evangelical church social service agency of the German Protestant church and a major humanitarian actor since 1954.

[33] Additional websites: Official Website of the Church of Greece,; Integration Centre for Migrant Workers – Ecumenical Refugee Programme,; Mission,; Bread for the World,; Churches’ Commission for Migrant Europe,; Council of Europe – Commissioner for Human Rights ; Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe,; Evangelische Kirche im Rheinland, ; Hellenic Republic – Ministry of Citizen Protection, General Secretariat for Migration Policy,  Reception and Asylum, ; Hellenic Statistical Authority,

[34] An EU initiative that dates back to 1996, and targeted human traffickers and sought to protect their victims. For details see European Commission, ‘Prevention and fight against trafficking in human beings – A European Union strategy since 1996’, MEMO/02/191, (2002), available from

[35] Euaggelia Dourida, ‘Ekthesis peri tēs Symmetochēs tēs eis tas Enarktērious Ergasias tēs tritēs Faseōs tou Programmatos Diktyoseōs tōn Ekklēsiastikōn Organōseōn Katapolemēseōs tēs Emporias Anthrōpōn (CATIII)’ (Report on the Participation in the Inaugural Works of the third Phase of the Networking Programme of Church Organisations on Combating Human Trafficking (CATIII)), Ekklesia, 83 (8), 2006, pp. 627–630.

[36] Antonios K. Papantoniou, ‘Mousoulmanoi Metanastes stēn Athena’ (Muslim Immigrants in Athens), Ekklesia, 86 (5), 2009, pp. 348–359, (pp. 348–351).

[37] Orthodox Church of Greece, ‘Kentro Symparastaseōs Palinnostountōn kai Metanastōn – Oikoumeniko Programma Prosfygōn, Omades Stochou’ (Integration Centre for Migrant Workers – Ecumenical Refugee Programme” Target Groups) on the Official Website of the Church of Greece, available at

[38] Ekklesia, ‘Καταστατικό Αστικής μη Κερδοσκοπικής Εταιρείας με την Επωνυμία «Κέντρο Συμπαραστάσεως Παλιννοστούντων και Mεταναστών – Oικουμενικό Πρόγραμμα Προσφύγων»’ (Katastatiko Astikēs mē Kerdoskopikēs Etaireias me tēn Epōnymia “Kentro Symparastaseōs Palinnostountōn kai Metanastōn – Oikoumeniko Programma Prosfygōn”; Statute of the Non-profit Organisation with the Distinctive Title “Integration Centre for Migrant Workers – Ecumenical Refugee Programme”) available at

According to the UNHCR ‘Risks that give rise to a need for international protection classically include those of persecution, threats to life, freedom or physical integrity arising from armed conflict, serious public disorder, or different situations of violence. Other risks may stem from: famine linked to situations of armed conflict; natural or man-made disasters; as well as being stateless’. See UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), ‘Persons in Need of International Protection’, (2017), available at Also, see the 2011 directive of the European Commission, ‘Who Qualifies for International Protection’, available at

[39] KSPM-ERP, ‘Rebuild our Lives – legal aid for refugees in Athens’, available at

[40] ‘Regulation (EU) No 604/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2013 establishing the criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examining an application for international protection lodged in one of the Member States by a third-country national or a stateless person’, according to EUR-Lex, ‘Document 32013R0604’, (2013), available at

[41] KSPM-ERP, ‘Bringing Families Together – Legal Info / Counselling for Family Reunification of PCWSN’, available at

[42] KSPM-ERP, ‘Legal Aid for Backlog Cases of Ecumenical Refugee Programme’, available at

[43] KSPM-ERP, ‘Legal Aid for Vulnerable Cases’, available from

[44] KSPM-ERP, ‘Legal and Psychosocial Support’, available from

[45] KSPM-ERP, ‘‘Rebuild our Lives’, available from

[46] Stiftung Mercator, ‘Migration: Katalysator nicht Ursache von Populismus‘, (2018), available from

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