Forms and levels of material reception conditions


Country Report: Forms and levels of material reception conditions Last updated: 30/11/20


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Material reception conditions may be provided in kind or in the form of financial allowances.[1] According to former Article 18(1) L 4540/2018, and now Article 56(1) IPA, where housing is provided in kind, it should take one or a combination of the following forms:

  1. 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;
  2. 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;
  3. 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.[2]

In practice, a variety of accommodation schemes remain in place as of the end of 2019. These include large-scale camps, initially designed as emergency accommodation facilities, hotels, apartments and NGO-run facilities (see Types of Accommodation).

UNHCR provides cash assistance in Greece as part of the “ESTIA” programme. The cash card assistance programme is being implemented throughout Greece. In December 2019, UNHCR collaborated with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and Catholic Relief Services (CRS) for the implementation of the cash assistance programme.

Eligibility for the cash card assistance programme is assessed on the basis of a person’s date of arrival, legal status and current location. Persons should:[3]

  • Have arrived after 1 January 2015;
  • Have been registered by the Greek authorities and continue to reside in the country;
  • Hold either a pre-registration or full registration document or any other valid official document issued by the Greek authorities;
  • Be above the age of 18;
  • Live in designated sites, in rented accommodation or registered in the location being issued cards, thereby making it difficult and/or excluding refugees living in informal settlements or who are homeless from accessing the programme;
  • Not be employed by an NGO or UN agency; and
  • Not be employed and receiving remuneration.

Asylum seekers remaining in detention are excluded from the programme.[4]

In December 2019, 90,537 eligible refugees and asylum seekers (45,451 families) received cash assistance in Greece, in 116 locations, marking a signigicant 43% increase of the programme’s beneficiaries, compared to the same period in 2018 (63,051). Since April 2017, 159,222 eligible individuals have received cash assistance in Greece at least once.

Of the 90,537 individuals who received cash assistance in December 2019, 15,500 have international protection in Greece (39.6% increase compared to December 2018). Out of 45,451 families, 22% were women, 40% men and 38% children. 31% of all who received cash assistance in December 2019 were families of five members or more and a further 32% were single adults.The majority of individuals in the cash assistance scheme were from Afghanistan (31%), followed by Syrians (27%) and applicants from Iraq (13%) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (5%).

Asylum seekers and refugees receiving cash assistance reside in 116 locations throughout Greece. The vast majority, however, are located in Attica (32%), the islands (33.2%),[5] and Central Macedonia (17%).

The amount distributed to each household is proportionate to the size of the family and ranges between €90 for single adults in catered accommodation to €550 for a family of seven in self-catered accommodation.[6]

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. Based on the programme’s beneficiaries, more than €8.7 million in cash assistance were expected to be injected into the local economy in December 2019.[7] For the whole of 2019, this ammounted to a total of €89.1 million, or to an average of approximately €6.8 million per month.[8]


[1] Article 17(1) L 4540/2018, replaced by article 55(1) IPA).

[2] Article 20(1) L 4540/2018, replaced by article 58(1) IPA).

[3] UNHCR, The Greece Cash Alliance, 24 November 2017, available at:

[4] Article 3(2) of Ministerial Decision 6382/19 on Defining the framework for the implementation of

the financial allowance and accommodation programme ‘ESTIA’

[5] Includes Lesvos (17%), Chios (4%), Samos (6%), Leros (2%), Kos (3%), Rhodes (0.2%) and Crete (1%).

[6] UNHCR, Cash Assistance Update (December 2019), 16 January 2020, available at:

[7] UNHCR, Factsheet: Greece, December 2018, available at:

[8] The data has been collected from the monthly factsheets issued by UNHCR in 2019 on the situation in Greece. They can be found at:


Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX I – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation