An upcoming Greek census, the first national population count in a decade, will help clarify how many refugees and asylum seekers remain in the country, a UN official said Thursday.
Around 96,000 recognised refugees and asylum seekers are currently estimated to be in Greece, but that number is “difficult to update,” said Mireille Girard, the UN refugee agency’s representative in Greece.
“What is to be ascertained in the next census, which we understand is in preparation, is how many of the recognised refugees are still in Greece,” Girard told a news conference.
“People that have been here for several years, are they still here, are they elsewhere?”
Many migrants are believed to have left the country since the conservative government took power in 2019, and cut back benefits and axed thousands of hotel rooms used to house them.
Several thousand other refugees are believed to have re-applied for asylum in Germany and other EU countries, where job prospects are better than in Greece.
Greece’s data agency ELSTAT will launch the nationwide census on October 23.
The last census in 2011, well before the 2015 migration crisis, recorded just over 10.8 million residents in Greece. At the time, the census found over 530,000 people of non-EU citizenship and nearly 100,000 EU residents.
More than 2,100 unaccompanied migrant minors remain in Greece, migration officials said Thursday, after operations had relocated more than 1,000 to other EU countries.
Nearly 500 minors are still awaiting relocation, said Greek official Irene Agapidaki, who deals with the protection of unaccompanied minors.