The latest project of humanitarian aid of the European Commission is launched in Greece, by European Commissioners Christos Stylianides and Dimitris Avramopoulos.

A new platform of Emergency Support Program for Integration and Housing (ESTIA) was officially presented in Athens by the European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides and Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoylos, along with the Greek minister for Migration Policy Yiannis Mouzalas, the Mayor of Athens George Kaminis and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Greece Philippe Leclerc.

“Today begins a new chapter on the life of refugees in Greece. The new EU funding fundamentally changes the way in which we are helping to improve the living conditions of people. The aim of these new projects is to transfer refugees from camps to regular accommodation and to gain a safer, physiological life. In partnership with our humanitarian partners and national authorities, we are committed to helping the most vulnerable refugees and to fulfilling our humanitarian duty in the transition to an economically more viable solution, “said Stylianides in Athen.

Already, €400 million have been allocated to Greece on behalf of the European Commission, to help the member state address the humanitarian crisis.”The works that are being launched today are part of our broader support to the country, but also to all those who need our protection. About € 1.3 billion of EU funds have been made available to Greece to manage the immigration crisis,” said Avramopoulos.

Migration Commissioner also referred two the Commission’s next steps against the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland for failing to comply with their relocation obligations within 2016 and 2017. “This sends a message of respect for the principles of Europe against nationalists and populists challenging them,” added Avramopoulos.

The ESTIA program

According to the EU executive, the budget of the ESTIA program is € 151 million and includes accommodation costs for up to 30,000 persons. In cooperation with UNHCR, DG ECHO’s partner at the ESTIA program, large-scale accommodation will be rented to improve refugee living conditions by providing 22,000 housing in urban areas. The cost for this part of the project is calculated at €93.5 million.  About 2,000 οφ τηε rented accommodation will be on the Greek islands while most of the apartments will be rented to cities and towns in mainland Greece.

As part of a second project worth € 57.6 million in cooperation with UNHCR, which also forms part of the ESTIA program, a basic social protection net for all asylum seekers and refugees in Greece will be created as they will be allocated monthly through a special debit card. The program is long prepared by DG ECHO of the European Commission for Greece, in the model that is already active in Turkey. Using this card, refugees and their families will be able to obtain food, medicine and travel by means of transport, thus meeting their basic needs. At the same time, this aid is redirected to the local economy, family shops and service providers, with dignity and away from the massive camp model.