Greece Accommodation Update – August 2018
Eighteen-year-old Syrian refugee Numeir is reunited with his parents and three siblings at Hamburg-Fuhlsbüttel Airport in Germany after years of separation.
Terrified that he would be recruited into the army, Numeir fled his home in Syria when he was just 15 years old. He travelled through Turkey, Greece and the Balkans, before reaching an uncle in Germany a year later. Because he was an unaccompanied minor, Numeir was taken into protective custody and eventually ended up in a hostel in the small northern town of Lensahn, by the Baltic Sea. For three years he had just one wish: “I wanted to share the beauty here with the people who mean more to me than anyone else in the world – my family.” His father Ismain, mother Fada and three siblings flew to Germany from Heraklion on Crete, where they lived in accommodation provided by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and its partner, the Heraklion Development Agency, under the EU-funded ESTIA programme. They spent months in Greece before hearing that their family reunification application had been approved. Their joyous reunion came in May 2018.
By the end of August 2018, UNHCR had created 25,492 places in the accommodation scheme as part of the ESTIA programme. These were in 4,235 apartments and 25 buildings, in 14 cities and 7 islands across Greece.
The Accommodation Scheme1 provides rented housing to vulnerable asylum-seekers and refugees in Greece. Urban accommodation helps restore a sense of normalcy and provides better access to services, including education and health. People are additionally supported by social workers and interpreters who help them access medical services, employment, language courses and recreational activities.
In total, since November 2015, 51,462 individuals have benefitted from the accommodation scheme. 21,452 people were accommodated as of the end of August 2018, 4,734 of whom are recognized refugees. 48% of the residents are children. The vast majority of those accommodated are families, with the average family size of four people. One in four residents have at least one of the vulnerabilities that make them eligible for the accommodation scheme.