Mojtaba, a refugee from Afghanistan, was forced to flee his country almost a year ago with his mother and sister. Today they live in Crete in an apartment provided through the ESTIA programme, which is implemented by UNHCR in cooperation with the local authorities. In the first seven months of 2018, almost 900 refugees and asylum-seekers have found safety and a home on Crete.
Mojtaba was a taxi driver in Afghanistan. As an asylum-seeker in Greece he has the right to work and has found employment on a farm. The money he earns harvesting oranges, mandarins and avocados provides a valuable source of income and the job takes his mind off the trauma of the past.
But Mojtaba misses the rest of his family. He was separated from his then pregnant wife during their flight. She made her way to Germany with Mojtaba’s father and brothers, and later gave birth to a baby boy, who is now nine months old.
Mojtaba longs to meet his son for the first time and his dream should soon come true as he has been accepted for family reunification by Germany.
By the end of July 2018, UNHCR had created 25,406 places in the accommodation scheme as part of the ESTIA programme.
These are in 4,198 apartments and 27 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, 50,177 individuals have benefitted from the accommodation scheme. 21,242 people were accommodated as of the end of July 2018, 4,687 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.