The European Commission has today announced a new wave of emergency support projects to help refugees in Greece worth €209 million. This includes the launch of the flagship ‘Emergency Support To Integration & Accommodation’ (ESTIA) program to help refugees and their families rent urban accommodation and provide them with cash assistance. This marks a change from previous humanitarian projects which mainly provided support for accommodation in camps and the provision of direct supplies.
“Today we are opening a new chapter in the lives of refugees in Greece. Our new funding is a game changer on how we deliver aid to improve people’s lives”, Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides said. “ The aim of these new projects is to get refugees out of the camps and into everyday accommodation and help them have more secure and normal lives. Together with our humanitarian partners and the national authorities, we are committed to helping the most vulnerable refugees and fulfilling our humanitarian duty in the move towards a more cost-effective response”.
Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos added: “Europe means solidarity and this is what today’s decision is about. The Commission has been standing side by side with Greece from day one and together we have come a long way. The projects launched today are one part of our wider support to the country but also to those in need of our protection. Around 1.3 billion euros of EU funds are at the disposal of Greece for the management of the migration crisis.”
The ESTIA contracts were announced by the Commission and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). Today’s funding comes on top of the €192 million contracted through the EU’s Emergency Support Instrument in 2016 and therefore more than doubles emergency support to Greece to a total of €401 million. Overall, the European Union has mobilised over €1.3 billion of support (until 2020) to Greece to help manage migration and the external borders, through various kinds of funding.
The ESTIA programme has a budget of €151 million and is composed of rented accommodation for up to 30,000 people and cash assistance to empower refugees to meet basic needs. The remaining funding will go to humanitarian NGOs to top up existing projects addressing pressing humanitarian needs in Greece, including shelter, primary health care, psycho-social support, improved hygiene conditions as well as informal education./IBNA