Joint Letter of 21 NGOs on Housing Issues for Recognized Refugees
August 1st, 2017
Minister for Migration Policy, Mr. Ioannis Mouzalas
Alternate Minister of Economy and Development, Mr. Alexis Haritsis
UNHCR Representative in Greece, Mr. Philippe Leclerc
TOPIC: Housing issues for recognized refugees
The increase in refugee status and subsidiary protection granting rates in Greece in recent years, which is of course a very positive development, calls for the immediate design and implementation of integration policies for recognized refugees.  The integration of refugees into our society is a legal obligation on the part of the state, which must take the appropriate measures to facilitate this extremely difficult process for refugees. At the same time integration must also be a political priority that, in addition to the formal conditions, provides essential conditions for the inclusion of the population in the social fabric of the country.
There are many problems in the field of integration today. The administrative procedures for the granting of Social Security Number, Tax Registration Number, unemployment cards, bank accounts, etc. remain extremely problematic, while Greek language learning and labor market links remain fragmented and inadequate, making the integration of the population more difficult.
As far as housing is concerned, UNHCR’s Housing Program concerns only asylum seekers (either those residing in Greece or those who will be resettled in other EU countries) and did not initially include any provision for the fate of these people from the moment they will receive refugee status or subsidiary protection.
Given the high number of recognitions, the UNHCR program now extends shelter for recognized refugees for one month, with the possibility of a six-month extension following a personalized assessment that will document vulnerability. After that time, these people will literally have to “be thrown out on the street”.
More specifically, based on the updated data, 1,014 people who have joined the UNHCR Housing Program have already been granted refugee status, most of whom are residing in programs implemented by the co-signing organizations. These people will have to gradually leave the accommodation that has been provided to them, and at the latest by the end of the year. It should be noted that the organizations are unable to cover their housing needs with their own resources.
The provision already in place in the National Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund scheme for housing allowance, could be used as a bridge program for legally residing third-country nationals (a category in which recognized refugees are included)  combined with a grid of integration and language services.
Unfortunately, although the problem is becoming more and more urgent, a relevant action has not yet been procured, risking leaving a gap that organizations will be unable to manage with their own resources. Therefore, we believe that the proclamation and implementation of this action is a priority for the smooth integration of these people in Greek society and we are calling for your immediate actions in this regard.
The co-signed NGOs
- Wind of Renewal
- ANTIGONE – Information and Documentation Center on Racism, Ecology, Peace and Non Violence
- Hellenic League for Human Rights (HLHR)
- Greek Forum of Refugees
- Greek Forum of Migrants
- Greek Council for Refugees (GCR)
- Marangopoulos Foundation For Human Rights
- Caritas Hellas
- Melissa Network
- NGO Aitima
- City of Athens Migrant Integration Council
- Generation 2.0 for Rights, Equality & Diversity
- Help Refugees
- JRS Greece
Indicatively, based on the Asylum Service’s statistics, in 2016, 2,467 persons were granted refugee status and 245 subsidiary protection, while in 2017, 3,791 persons received refugee status and 305 subsidiary protection, http://asylo.gov.gr/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Greek_Asylum_Service_Statistical_Data_GR.pdf.