About 11,000 recognized refugees are facing an uncertain future as they will gradually have to leave their current accommodation facilities starting in June, as part of the Migration Policy Ministry’s plan to replace them with asylum seekers from the islands, in a bid to decongest the local camps.
About 6,500 of those refugees live in apartments paid by the UNHCR-implemented ESTIA program, 2,500 are in accommodation centres and about 1,500 refugees never left the reception and identification camps even after their asylum application was approved.
Officially, these refugees, whose asylum application was accepted five months or – in some cases – even three years ago are no longer entitled to stay in those facilities and will have to look for a way to secure a livelihood.
Sources from the Migration Ministry said there is coordination with the Citizen Protection Ministry on the matter to avoid creating social problems, noting that asylum seekers on the islands are living in dismal conditions.
In reality, however, many of these people have not learned Greek yet and have very slim chances of finding employment, especially in the current conditions created by the pandemic.
A representative from an NGO that offers Greek lessons to refugees said that many of these people “often ask us if we know where they could stay.”
Greek authorities have long labored under the view that migration was a temporary situation, which means that five years after the 2015 refugee crisis, no serious integration efforts have been implemented.
On its side, Migration Ministry sources have argued that the HELIOS program for recognised asylum seekers – the only activated integration program – has room for more applicants.
Just 1,500 refugees have been included in HELIOS, a program planned for 5,000.