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Greece: Fiasco of Food Provision and Cash Assistance Program

At the beginning of October 2021, the UNHCR handed over the cash assistance component of the Emergency Support to Integration and Accommodation (ESTIA) scheme to Greek authorities. The handover quickly fell apart, while a parallel decision to discontinue financial support and food distribution to people who have completed the asylum procedure left many without support. A joint statement by 26 European NGOs summarises the situation: “In a new bleak turn of events, people that seek or have received international protection in Greece, are now deprived of food or their cash allowance, due to the policies pursued by the Greek government and an overall lack of preparation to undertake its obligations”. 

The consortium of organisations estimate that 60 per cent of people residing in camps on the mainland do not receive food. 36,000 people have not received their cash support due to the gap caused by the lack of preparation by the Greek government taking over distribution from UNHCR. Further, the joint statement notes that: “Among those left hungry are 25% women (including pregnant women), single-headed families, 40% children, chronic patients, and patients with special medical and nutritional conditions. In some places, food is not even provided to those put in quarantine due to COVID 19”. In its response, the Ministry of Migration and Asylum despite evidence to the contrary, claim that all asylum seekers in facilities on the islands and mainland have received three meals a day since 1 October and that cash support will resume as normal at the end of the month. Further, figures from the Greek Ministry of Migration and Asylum reveals that less than 1 in 10 children living in Reception and Identification Centres (RIC) are enrolled in school.

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