Operation: Opération: Greece



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Key Figures

2018 year-end results
63,050 eligible refugees and asylum-seekers received cash grants 
27,090 urban accommodation places were established and maintained with an occupancy rate of 98%
21,400 people from the islands were assisted to safely reach accommodation structures in the mainland
2019 planning figures
68,000 people will receive cash grants
25,000 people will be hosted in urban accommodation
3,000 people will be provided with legal assistance
500 households will be supported for local integration

People of Concern Personnes relevant de la compétence du HCR

Increase in
2018 137,757
2017 83,418
2016 86,611


[["Refugees",48026],["Refugee-like situation",13434],["Asylum-seekers",76099],["Stateless",198]]
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2018 {"categories":[2014,2015,2016,2017,2018,2019],"budget":[null,null,287.40068551,245.86626514,247.36028813,246.66276109],"expenditure":[null,null,183.87264811,217.74130145,236.72237512,null]} {"categories":[2014,2015,2016,2017,2018,2019],"p1":[null,null,287.37282951,245.83840878,247.27133477,246.63276109],"p2":[null,null,0.027856,0.02785636,0.08895336,0.03],"p3":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p4":[null,null,null,null,null,null]} {"categories":[2014,2015,2016,2017,2018,2019],"p1":[null,null,183.84988105,217.73145452,236.67153789,null],"p2":[null,null,0.02276706,0.00984693,0.05083723,null],"p3":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p4":[null,null,null,null,null,null]}
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  • 2015
  • 2016
  • 2017
  • 2018
  • 2019

Operational context

After three years of operational engagement in Greece, in 2018 UNHCR focused on a transition process to enable key state services to take over assistance and care for certain groups at risk.  Despite the continuous commitment of State counterparts to enhance asylum procedures, reception conditions and protection of vulnerable groups, the transition plan to hand over to the government the second line reception and cash-based assistance did not materialize in 2018.
In the context of pending transition, UNHCR focused on improving the reception conditions, namely accommodation and provision of cash assistance for asylum-seekers, benefitting more than 50,000 people.
Key protection activities in 2018 included maintaining a core level of protection monitoring for more efficient interventions, advocacy and planning; capacity-building and piloting new initiatives for enabling national protection systems; and mainstreaming protection in partnership with relevant Government services and institutions.

Population trends

In 2018, the number of new arrivals to Greece increased by 39% compared to 2017.  An estimated 50,500 people (32,500 by sea; 18,000 by land) reached the country, mainly with refugee profiles from Afghanistan, Syrian Arab Republic, Iraq and Democratic Republic of Congo.
The number of unaccompanied children continued to increase in 2018 to some 3,740 new cases.

Key achievements

  • Since 2015, a total of 55,760 asylum-seekers and recognized refugees have been accommodated by UNHCR through its partners, the vast majority, some 91%, in apartments
  • Due to the increased number of UASC in need of appropriate care and protection, UNHCR continued to operationalize best practice alternative care solutions such as supported independent living for teenaged UAC and foster care for younger children
  • 463 young people in Athens and broader Attika region were enrolled in, and completed, vocational training

Unmet needs
  • Gaps in the provision of services and a weak involvement of key stakeholders continued, due to the transition of activities from NGOs to national authorities.
  • Substandard conditions and limited services in reception and identification centers (RICs) coupled with the restricted expansion of accommodation capacity outside the RICs constituted an obstacle to provision of proper assistance to people with specific needs.
  • There was a lack of standardized case management and referral mechanisms throughout the country.
  • Gaps in alternative care options, beyond shelter-based residential care, for UAC remained.

Working environment

 More than a million refugees and migrants arrived in Greece in 2015 and early 2016. Following border restrictions in the Balkan route and the implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement in March 2016, the number of arrivals dropped and the overall situation is stabilizing in 2017. However, the situation in the islands remains a concern. UNHCR has a presence in 11 locations in Greece (six on islands and five in the mainland).

As of September 2017, UNHCR estimates that there are some 43,000 refugees and migrants in Greece. The number of new arrivals have been relatively stable since April 2016, and substantial changes in the overall trends are not foreseen. The current relocation of asylum-seekers from Greece to other EU countries is expected to conclude by the end of 2017. Transfers for family reunification and returns to countries of origin under the voluntary return scheme are expected to continue in 2018.

In 2018, UNHCR will capitalize on the progress made in the area of protection case management and protection responses in particular for unaccompanied and separated children and SGBV prevention and response. The accommodation and cash-based interventions schemes could support a meaningful transition to self-reliance and pave the way for integration. By the end of 2018, it is estimated that up to 20,000 refugees will remain in the country. UNHCR will work closely with authorities, both at national and local level, to support the design of integration policies and increase self-reliance opportunities.

Key priorities

The main objectives in 2018 will be to phase out of direct involvement in service provision and assistance and focus on advocacy, capacity development and protection monitoring.
In 2018 there will be the need to continue the accommodation scheme in close cooperation with the Government and municipalities, the provision of cash assistance and the identification of and response to protection risks, particularly for children and women. The focus will be on creating the conditions for self-reliance and the potential for integration for refugees staying in Greece. The competence for issues linked to integration is located in different parts of the central administration, across at least seven different Ministries. As such, it is paramount to design a comprehensive strategy on integration with the aim to strengthen the capacity of the Ministry of Migration, increase the involvement of competent Ministries, and promote the role of Municipalities, while ensuring inclusion of asylum-seekers and refugees in the process as well as their access to mainstream services.
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