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, such as minors (accompanied and unaccompanied), people with disabilities, elderly people, single-parent households and pregnant women, 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 2021. These include large-scale camps, initially designed as emergency accommodation facilities, apartments and NGO-run facilities (see Types of Accommodation), albeit reduced compared to the previous years.
Up to the end of September 2021, UNHCR, in collaboration with the Catholic Relief Services (CRS), the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), and METAdrasi, also continued to provide cash assistance in Greece, in the context of the “ESTIA II-CBI” programme, which is financed through AMIF and aims to partly cover material reception conditions by addressing beneficiaries’ basic needs (e.g. clothing, medication). The cash card assistance programme is being implemented throughout Greece. As of October 2021, the programme was fully handed over to the Greek state, and is since implemented by the MoMA, in collaboration with CRS. A serious gap in the distribution of the assistance was identified as part of this transition, which remained unresolved until the end of the year.
Under the ESTIA II-CBI programme, the beneficiaries of the cash-based 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, as long as they reside in the centres and facilities provided under para. 4 article 8 L. 4375/2016, in accommodation programmes of the MoMA, in shelters and hospitality centres operated by international organisations and legal entities governed by public law, local authorities, as well as civil society actors that are registered in the Registry of Greek and foreign NGOs of the MoMA.
- 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 placement to the aforementioned accommodation spaces.
In both cases, the new residency requirement as a pre-condition for receiving cash assistance, took effect on 1 July 2021, after first being announced through Press Releases issued by the MoMA in April and May 2021, and subsequently introduced in ministerial decisions in July and September. As per the new framework, cash assistance is provided to those eligible at the end of each month, as long as it can be certified that they continue to reside in the facilities designated by the Ministry of Migration and Asylum (i.e. facilities of the reception system). Applicants who are not accommodated in these facilities need to first apply, be referred and placed to such accommodation, before the procedure for accessing the cash assistance can (re)start. In these cases, the application can only be made through actors that are registered in the special referral platform of the ESTIA program (e.g. NGOs), while referrals can only take place under the responsibility of the RIS.
The decision to interrupt cash assistance to asylum applicants not accommodated in the reception system raised significant concerns, inter alia because it amounted to the withdrawal of material reception conditions to an estimated 25,000 asylum applicants, without any personalised assessment or reasoned decision, thus potentially also amounting to a violation of article 57 L 4636/2019 transposing article 20 of Directive 2013/33/EU. Furthermore, as highlighted by 30 civil society organisations in a joint statement published in June 2021, the decision would also have a detrimental impact on the integration path of the population affected, as many would not only have to abandon a place of residence of their own choice – which they were able to sustain with the support of the provided cash assistance – but would also have to return to camps, in isolation from their communities, friends and society more broadly. Lastly, the decision failed to take into consideration the protection risks that could potentially arise for some refugees in the context of shared accommodation, with some communities reportedly preferring to lose the financial allowance out of fear to be accommodated with unknown persons, or the capacity of NGOs, which were in practice called to implement the decision, to do so.
Regarding the distribution of cash assistance in August-September 2021, 34,072 eligible refugees and asylum-seekers (of whom 16,471 were families i.e. 48%) received cash assistance in 93 locations throughout Greece, as part of the last disbursement carried out under the auspices of UNHCR. This marked a 59% decrease of the programme’s beneficiaries, compared to the same period in 2020 (82,239 families, i.e. 53%). Between April 2017 and September 2021, 205,241 eligible individuals received cash assistance in Greece at least once.
Of the 34,072 individuals who received cash assistance in September 2021, 455 were beneficiaries of international protection (91% decrease compared to September 2020). Out of 16,471 families, 24% were women, 36% men and 40% children. 31% of all who received cash assistance in September 2021 were families of five members or more, 29% were single adults, while the majority (78%) were from Afghanistan (43%), Syria (15%), Iraq (10%) and the DRC (10%). They reside in 93 locations throughout Greece, yet the majority were located in Attica (44%), Central Macedonia (20%) and the islands (12%).
Furthermore, in December 2021, as per data published by the Ministry of Migration and Asylum, a total of 14,333 asylum applicants (6,837 households) received cash assistance throughout Greece, primarily in the region of Attika (43%) and Central Macedonia (23%). Further information indicates that the specific distribution, which relaunched the scheme after the programme’s transition, covered belated payments for the months of October and November for the population accommodated in ESTIA, the island RICs and in shelters. The sums for December and for the rest of the population of asylum applicants gradually started being distributed in 2022.
Of the 14,333 applicants who received cash in December 2021, the majority were from Afghanistan (39%), followed by Syrians (16%), nationals of the DRC (13%), Iraq (10%) and Somalia (4%). 37% of all those who received the assistance were between the ages of 18-24, while 35% were between the ages of 0-13 as per the MoMA’s data. No data on the family situation of the applicants were published.
The amount distributed to each household is proportionate to the size of each household and differs depending on whether the accommodation is catered or not. Following a relevant reconfiguration of the financial sum provided under the CBI programme in 2020, the sums have been further reconfigured in 2021, with few exceptions, leading to further small reductions of the sum distributed to most categories of eligible applicants. As of July 2021, the amount distributed to each applicant or household ranges from €75 for single adults in catered accommodation to €420 for a family of four or more in self-catered accommodation. In general terms, the sum provided is lower than what is provided under the Minimum Guaranteed Income, which foresees a € 200 support for a single-member household that is increased by € 100 for each additional adult member of the household and by € 50 for each minor member, up to a € 900 ceiling, albeit variations may arise depending on each household.
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. No relevant data are provided for December 2021.
 Article 55(1) IPA.
 Article 58(1) IPA.
 Ministerial Decision 115202/2021 on the Terms of provision of material reception conditions in the form of financial assistance to applicants for international protection, Gov. Gazette 3322/Β/26-7-2021.
 MoMA, “The Ministry of Migration and Asylum undertakes the provision of financial assistance to asylum applicants as of 1 October 2021”, available at: https://bit.ly/3HygEiT.
 Inter alia, Joint Statement by 26 NGOs in Greece, “Are you eligible to eat?”, 18 October 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3ipbE6a.
 Article 1(d) Ministerial Decision 115202/2021, op.cit.
 MoMA, “The financial assistance to international protection applicants that are not accommodated in facilities under the responsibility of the Ministry of Migration and Asylum or MoMA partners is abolished from 1/7/21”, 15 April 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3IEvEgx and “Pre-requisites for the disbursement of financial assistance to international protection applicants”, 25 May 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3IDe5xx.
 Ministerial Decision 115202/2021 op.cit and JMD 2857/2021 Amending JMD 2089/16-07-2021 on a “Common Framework for Managing Programmes that are assigned to the Special Secretariat for the Coordination and Management of Programmes under the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund and the Internal Security Fund and other resources and are nor financed through National Programmes” (Β’ 3120), Gov. Gazette 4496/29-09-2021.
 Annex III, article 5 JMD 2857/2021.
 Estimates provided by UNHCR in the protection working group of 7 June 2021.
 Joint Statement: A big setback in integration: The cut in aid to asylum seekers, June 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3qMKIBV.
 As per information shared in the protection working group of 7 June 2021.
 UNHCR, Cash assistance update: August-September 2021, 15 September 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3vNCdKr.
 UNHCR, Cash assistance update: September 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3tthI2y.
 UNHCR, 15 September 2021, op.cit.
 MoMA, Factsheet December 2021: Programme “Financial assistance to applicants of international protection”, available in Greek at: https://bit.ly/3qrPqor.
 Information provided at the Protection Working Group of 3 February 2022 by the Head of the Directorate of Support of the RIS.
 MoMA, Factsheet December 2021, op.cit.
 Article 3 Ministerial Decision 115202/2021 on the “Terms of material reception conditions in the form of financial assistance to applicants for international protection”, Gov. Gazette 3322/B/26-7-2021.
 Article 2 (7) JMD 3359/2021,
 UNHCR, Factsheet: Greece, 1-31 December 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/2QVbl8I, 3.