Municipality of Thessaloniki, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), JIPS, International Organisation for Migration (IOM), Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), Alkyone Refugee Day Care Centre, Danish Refugee Council (DRC), Arsis Association for the Social Support of Youth, Solidarity
Thessaloniki: Profiling of Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Third Country Nationals not registered with the Asylum Service. Potential and Obstacles to Local Integration. 2019
The closure of the so-called "Balkan route" and the EU-Turkey Statement in March 2016 changed Greece from a transit country to a country hosting a growing population of refugees and asylum seekers. To address the needs of this growing population staying on the Greek mainland, the Greek Government established Open Reception Facilities (ORFs) in Northern and Central Greece. In the beginning of 2016, UNHCR through its partners established urban accommodation schemes to host asylum seekers eligible for relocation as part of the European solidarity measures. The program evolved to focus on the most vulnerable asylum seekers for whom accommodation in the ORFs was unsuitable. The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) set up a similar accommodation program in late 2016 also focusing on the most vulnerable. Arrivals at the Greek-Turkish land border increased in late 2017 and as a result a higher number of people started arriving directly to Thessaloniki, without having presented themselves to the authorities at the border. Hence, they were not registered by the Greek authorities and as a consequence lacked access to a dignified shelter, or other forms of basic assistance available to asylum seekers and refugees. The Municipality of Thessaloniki and the humanitarian community jointly decided to conduct a profiling exercise of the refugees and asylum seekers hosted in Thessaloniki as well as Third Country Nationals not registered with the Asylum Service in Thessaloniki. The objective was to explore the extent to which refugees and asylum seekers were moving towards local integration. This was done by looking at their outlook for the future as well as the obstacles and possibilities towards greater economic and socio-cultural integration in Greece. The analysis of persons with no asylum service documentation focused on the key challenges faced by those groups, such as lack of a regularized status and homelessness. The collected data would form a baseline for future integration monitoring and would additionally be a useful tool for the implementation of integration activities as foreseen in national and local strategies for integration. The survey included a total of 861 households. The survey found out that the great majority of refugees and asylum seekers in the accommodation scheme and in the ORF had been in Thessaloniki less than one year. The majority of the households in the accommodation scheme (60%) reported that they intended to stay in Thessaloniki in the long term, and one of the main conditions for being able to integrate locally is finding employment. Amongst the households in the ORF, less than half intended to stay in Thessaloniki (45%) and more than a third (38%) intended to move to another EU country. For those intending to stay, being able to integrate locally was very much linked to finding a different accommodation solution. The households having found their own accommodation were on average living longer in Thessaloniki, as almost half of them had lived in the city for more than one year compared to other groups who have been living in their majority in their accommodation for less than one year. This group of refugees and asylum seekers also included the biggest group reporting that they intended to stay in Thessaloniki longer term (76%). For them the main condition for local integration was access to employment and getting the status of international protection. Accessing employment as a key condition for local integration was also highlighted and confirmed during community consultations with asylum seekers and refugees.
Unit of Analysis
Household and individual
2.1: Edited, anonymous dataset for licensed distribution.
The survey includes the following topics:
- Household composition
- Individual characteristics
- Migration history
- Future intentions for location of residence
- Legal integration/ Legal status
- Economic integration: enjoyment of economic rights and services
- Social and cultural integration: access to social services, cultural knowledge, etc.
- Civil and political integration
Livelihood & Social cohesion
Producers and sponsors
Municipality of Thessaloniki
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
International Organisation for Migration (IOM)
Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC)
Alkyone Refugee Day Care Centre
Danish Refugee Council (DRC)
Arsis Association for the Social Support of Youth
Voluntary association OMNES
Civil society network Help Refugees
Hellenic Red Cross
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
Norwegian Refugee Council
Norwegian Refugee Council's global provider of expertise
Danish Refugee Council
United Nations Children's Fund
Joint IDP Profiling Service
Heinrich Boll Stiftung
In total, the survey of refugees and asylum seekers covered 1,808 individuals comprising 641 households. The sample was stratified by accommodation type into three strata:
- Those in the urban accommodation scheme who have been provided with apartments
- Those self-accommodated in Thessaloniki, i.e. are either renting an apartment by themselves, or being hosted by friends, relatives or volunteers
- Those who were fully registered residents of the Open Reception Facilities (ORF)
The sampling frame for refugees and asylum seekers was UNHCR's ProGres database, while for the ORF, a site population list provided by the camp manager was used as a basis to generate a sample.A simple random sample of households was initially drawn for the accommodation scheme strata and the self-accommodated strata shortly before the data collection was due to begin. During data collection, reaching a majority of the sampled households was challenging due to the listed phone numbers being outdated, as persons of concern often change their pre-paid SIM cards. Unannounced home visits were not an option given time and resource constraints. It was therefore decided to aim for full coverage of both these strata, expecting that a high proportion of the persons in the ProGres database for these strata would not be reachable by phone. To assess potential bias introduced by this approach, the demographic profile of the surveyed persons was compared to that of the whole population of refugees and asylum seekers in the UNHCR ProGres database. The age and sex figures of the population were compared to the survey figures. The sample distributions resemble the population distributions quite closely on the basis of these demographic characteristics. As such, the overall impression is that there is little skew in the survey data for these two strata. It is therefore assumed that the survey results are representative and can be applied to the population as a whole. For the strata of the Open Reception Facility (ORF), the most update site registration list was obtained from the Reception and Identification Service (RIS) that manages the site. The enumerators managed to get in touch with at least one representative of each of the registered households living in the site at the time of the data collection. No one declined the request for an interview. It was not relevant to compare the surveyed population to the UNHCR database list to assess representativity, given that the population in the site had changed significantly since the list for that strata had been assembled by the camp manager in the site. Since a full count of the site population was achieved, the results are considered to be representative for the population.
A different sampling took place for third country nationals not registered with the Asylum Service. The unified registry for persons with police notes (EURODAC II) could not be accessed for the purpose of the profiling study. Although organizations that provide assistance to police note holders hold information about this population group, including UNHCR which provides cash assistance, there is no exhaustive list. Similarly there is no unified registry for undocumented persons. However, through comparing aggregated information from multiple service providers, a population figure of 200 households was estimated as a rough baseline. In the absence of a registry, it was not possible to construct a list from which a random sample could be drawn. Thus, a non-probability sampling strategy was applied, which included convenience sampling approaches. With non-probability approaches it is not possible to establish how well the sample represents the population unless all members of a given target group have been interviewed. Convenience sampling is a type of non-probability sampling method, where the sample is taken from a group of people easy to contact or to reach, e.g. by snowballing techniques where respondents identify other respondents known to them. The enumeration team interviewed 451 persons making up 227 households under the category of third country nationals not registered with the Asylum Service. This number of households interviewed was slightly higher than the number originally foreseen, a possible explanation for this being the aforementioned influx of arrivals to Thessaloniki the same month. The survey results support this theory, as more than half of the survey respondents from this target group had been in Thessaloniki for less than a month at the time of the interview. The high number of recent arrivals made the estimate of the total population more uncertain. In addition, many of the persons who were approached, declined to be interviewed. As a result, it is difficult to assess how representative the interviewees were of the target group.
Weight was calculated dividing, for each strata, the population by the sample size.
Dates of Data Collection
Data Collection Mode
Data Collection Notes
The household survey was conducted between the months of April and July 2018 with mobile devices.
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
Norwegian Refugee Council
The survey questionnaire used to collect the data consists of the following sections: Migration history family unity & mobility, Housing, Basic demographics, Education, Employment & work stats, Household economy, Access to health admin social and humanitarian services, Social links and interaction, Future intentions, Social and cultural integration.
Data was anonymized through decoding and local suppression.
Cite this data as follows:
Thessaloniki Municipality, UNHCR, JIPS, Alkyone, NRC, Arsis, DRC, IOM, et al. (2019) Thessaloniki: Profiling of Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Third Country Nationals not registered with the Asylum Service. Potential and Obstacles to Local Integration. UNHCR microdata library: https://microdata.unhcr.org