People received cash assistance in Greece directly from UNHCR, indirectly through UNHCR-funded partners, and from organizations who are expected to join the Greece Cash Alliance in May 2017
People benefitted from alternatives to camps in UNHCR urban accommodation since the beginning of the programme
UNHCR accommodation places currently active as alternatives to camps
Transfers supported by UNHCR from the islands to improved accommodation in UNHCR accommodation and state-run sites in the mainland since 1 June 2016
One million refugees and migrants transited through Greece in 2015 and 2016 during the emergency, along the Eastern Mediterranean route through Turkey to Europe. On 20 March 2016, some 50,000 people remained in Greece following the implementation of the Joint EU-TUR Statement and the closing of the Balkan route. Since then, arrivals to the islands decreased to a daily average of 75 people, far below the 1,800 daily average of the first months of 2016. Many of those remaining in Greece sought asylum in the country. The Government and humanitarian actors responded to their needs for accommodation and services.
In 2016, three times more people applied for asylum in Greece than the year before, with 51,092 asylum applications, in contrast to the 13,195 in 2015. New asylum procedures were put in place, which demanded an increased capacity from the Greek authorities, with EC support, to receive asylum-seekers, register and process asylum applications.
In the mainland, humanitarian actors, including UNHCR, focused their efforts on improving conditions in the many sites accommodating refugees and migrants. The Greek Ministry of Migration Policy closed many of the sites that were unsuitable for long-term human habitation, and intends to close many of the remaining ones that are also remote. Many of the remaining sites that are remote introduce a barrier to those needing to travel to complete their asylum applications, access education, medical care and other services. UNHCR has provided transportation to people in these remote sites, while also gradually shifting its operational focus from sites to urban accommodation.
Arrivals have decreased in the islands, but many people spend a longer time there to complete their asylum applications. Consequently, the few sites hosting them become quickly overcrowded. The overcrowded conditions mean that unaccompanied children, people with disabilities or victims of sexual and gender-based violence cannot always access safe accommodation options. The overcrowded conditions also create pressure on the services provided and tension over the available resources. The situation increases protection risks and demands ongoing work to improve living conditions and address protection concerns.
The Greek authorities estimated some 62,073 refugees and migrants to be in Greece at the end of April, of whom, 48,251 in the mainland and 13,822 in the Aegean Islands (Source: KEPOM). There were an estimated 1,156 sea arrivals on the Aegean Islands, a decrease from March’s 1,526 sea arrivals (Hellenic Police). UNHCR has its own estimates for assistance delivery purposes which indicate lower figures and have been shared with the Government.