Material reception conditions may be provided in kind or in the form of financial allowances. According to Article 56(1) IPA, where housing is provided in kind, it should take one or a combination of the following forms:
- Premises used for the purpose of housing applicants during the examination of an application for international protection made at the border or in transit zones;
- Accommodation centres, which can operate in properly customised public or private buildings, under the management of public or private non-profit entities or international organisations and guarantee a suitable standard of living;
- Private houses, flats and hotels, rented for the purposes of accommodation programmes implemented by public or private non-profit entities or international organisations.
In all cases, the provision of housing is under the supervision of the competent reception authority, in collaboration, where appropriate, with other competent state bodies. The law provides that the specific situation of vulnerable persons should be taken into account in the provision of reception conditions.
In practice, a variety of accommodation schemes remain in place as of the end of 2020. These include large-scale camps, initially designed as emergency accommodation facilities, hotels, apartments and NGO-run facilities (see Types of Accommodation), albeit reduced compared to the previous year, following the closure of alternative accommodation facilities such as PIKPA Lesvos and PIKPA Leros, in October and November, respectively. Both facilities were offering dignified reception to particularly vulnerable asylum applicants. Their closure raised reaction by civil society organizations and the media. Particularly in the case of Lesvos, the closure of PIKPA took place just a month after the fires that destroyed the Moria RIC left more than 12,000 homeless asylum seekers, who were subsequently transferred to the emergency Mavrovouni facility (Kara Tepe), which remains unfit for purpose to this day.
As noted at the time:
“One month after the fire in Moria, which once more accentuated the squalid conditions under which asylum seekers are hosted on the Greek islands, the first rain proved the inadequacy of the temporary facility in which Moria’s displaced asylum seekers and refugees were transferred to. Particularly amid these circumstances and the COVID-19 pandemic, the evacuation of one of the most humane facilities in Greece and particularly the Greek islands seems to lack reasoning and humaneness and is directly at odds with Greece and the EU’s obligation to respect human rights and provide proper reception conditions to asylum seekers, particularly the most vulnerable.”
Throughout 2020, UNHCR continued to provide cash assistance in Greece in the context of the cash-based intervention component of the “ESTIA II” programme, though this is expected to be gradually handed over to the Greek government in 2021. The cash card assistance programme is being implemented throughout Greece. In December 2020, UNHCR collaborated with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and METAdrasi for the implementation of the cash assistance programme.
Under the ESTIA II programme, the beneficiaries for the cash card assistance are:
- Adult asylum seekers who have been pre-registered and/or fully registered in accordance with article 65 (1)(2)&(7) L. 4636/2019, with the exception of those detained for any reason.
- Beneficiaries of international protection who upon turning 18 reside in accommodation centres for UAM or in temporary accommodation spaces for UAM, for a period of three months following their departure from these spaces.
In December 2020, 70,445 eligible refugees and asylum-seekers (38,715 families) received cash assistance in 118 locations throughout Greece, marking a 32% decrease of the programme’s beneficiaries, compared to the same period in 2019 (90,537). Since April 2017, 193,355 eligible individuals have received cash assistance in Greece at least once.
Of the 70,445 individuals who received cash assistance in December 2020, 6,059 have received international protection in Greece (61% decrease compared to December 2019). Out of 38,715 families, 21% were women, 44% men and 35% children. 27% of all who received cash assistance in December 2020 were families of five members or more and a further 38% were single adults.The majority of individuals in the cash assistance scheme were from Afghanistan (35%), followed by Syrians (18%), applicants from Iraq (8%), Pakistan (7%) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (7%).
Asylum seekers and refugees receiving cash assistance reside in 118 locations throughout Greece. The vast majority, however, are located in Attica (45%), the islands (22.5%), and Central Macedonia (17%).
The amount distributed to each household is proportionate to the size of the family and has ranged between €90 for single adults in catered accommodation to €550 for a family of seven in self-catered accommodation. Following a Ministerial Decision in June 2020, these amounts have been reconfigured in the context of the ESTIA II programme and are ranging from €75 for single adults in catered accommodation to €490 for a family of six or more in self-catered accommodation, as of 1 September 2020. As per article 2(4) the same decision, beneficiaries of the cash card can only withdraw up to 20% of the financial allowance they receive.
In addition to the fact that cash assistance preserves refugees’ dignity and facilitates the process of regaining an autonomous life, by inter alia allowing them to choose what they need most, the programme has also had a significant, positive impact on local communities, as this assistance is eventually injected into the local economy, family shops and service providers. In proportion to programme’s beneficiaries, approximately €7.4 million in cash assistance were expected to be injected into the local economy in December 2020. For the whole of 2020, this amounts to more than €104 million, or to an average of approximately €8.7 million per month, that would eventually be injected in local economies.
 Article 55(1) IPA).
 Article 58(1) IPA).
 Inter alia “SAVE DIGNITY, SAVE PIKPA AND KARA TEPE”, Joint statement of Μore than 160 Greek and international organizations, academics and other actors from all over Europe urge the Greek authorities to revoke decision to close dignified alternatives in accommodating refugees οn Lesvos, 30 September 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3u3shs9 and “Protect dignity and human rights: call for solidarity gathering in support of PIKPA on Wednesday”, 14 October 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/32X8uPc.
 For instance, Efsyn, “They have also shut down PIKPA Leros and opening a closed camp for refugees” (“Έκλεισαν και το ΠΙΚΠΑ Λέρου, ανοίγουν κλειστό στρατόπεδο για τους πρόσφυγες”), 26 November 2021, available in Greek at: https://bit.ly/32W9bsc.
 Inter alia, GCR & Oxfam, “Conditions in ‘Moria 2.0’ camp are abysmal, say GCR and Oxfam”, 21 October 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3gOnYgQ; Lesbos Bulletin, Update on the EU response in Lesbos, by the Greek Council for Refugees & Oxfam, 21 April 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3u45hJO.
 UNHCR, Cash assistance update: December 2020, op.cit.
 Includes Lesvos (11%), Chios (4%), Samos (5%), Leros (0.3%), Kos (1%), Rhodes (0.2%) and Crete (1%).
the financial allowance and accommodation programme ‘ESTIA’.