Our Greek member Perichoresis has recently announced its decision not to continue with the implementation of the ESTIA II program for migrants and refugees, following the Hellenic Government’s recent revision of terms and requirements.
The ESTIA II (Emergency Support to Integration and Accommodation) has been so far a UNHCR joint programme with the Greek Government, local authorities, and NGOs aimed at providing urban accommodation and cash assistance to refugees and asylum-seekers in Greece. The programme is co-funded by the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund of the European Union.
Since 2015, the accommodations provided about 70,000 refugees and asylum seekers in Greece with regular life in different cities across the country and facilitated their access to services, including education, integration programmes. Data shows how the host population also highly benefited from embracing diversity through peaceful coexistence.
On the 15th of July 2020, the Greek Ministry of Migration and Asylum, the European Commission, and UNHCR signed an agreement affirming the transition of the ESTIA II components that relate to accommodation, currently managed by UNHCR, to the Ministry of Migration and Asylum by the end of 2020, starting with the transition of 12,000 places (nearly half the entire project) on the 1st of September 2020.
In an open letter to beneficiaries and partners, Perichoresis’ Board of Directors explains the inability of the NGO to continue implementing the ESTIA programme under the revised terms and requirements. More specifically, Perichoresis points the finger at the insufficient new funding schemes and the legal implication that might arise as a result of the new regulation according to which beneficiaries must leave their facilities once their refugee status has been accepted.
Dr. Paris Papageorgiou, Perichoresis Chairperson, states: “We hope that over the coming months we will be able, following the procedures indicated by the UNHCR and our Ministry, to smoothly hand over the program to the next organization that will take it over. This means a big change for us as our larger accommodation program will be shut down. Perichoresis will focus on the educational and activity programs it is already implementing and on new programs that may open shortly.”
To know more about Perichoresis’ decision, check the open letter they have sent to partners.