Types of accommodation


Country Report: Types of accommodation Last updated: 08/06/23


Greek Council for Refugees Visit Website

Article 28 L. 4825/2021 (replacing para. 4 art. 8 L 4375/2016) provides that the Regional Services of the RIS are the:

  • Reception and Identification Centres (RICs)
  • Controlled Temporary Accommodation Centres and
  • Closed Controlled Access Centres (CCACs), which are structured and have similar responsibilities to the RICs and which include distinct spaces for the operation of Temporary Accommodation facilities and Pre-Removal Centres.

The same article also provides for the operation of distinct spaces, within the perimeter of the aforementioned types of accommodation, that should fulfil specifications appropriate for the accommodation of third country nationals or stateless persons belonging to the vulnerable groups prescribed by law.

Overall, the Greek reception system has been long criticised as inadequate, not least in the M.S.S. v. Belgium and Greece ruling of the ECtHR. Subsequent jurisprudence of the ECtHR has also found violations of Article 3 ECHR due to the failure of national authorities to provide asylum seekers with adequate living conditions.[1]

From mid-2015, when Greece was facing large-scale arrivals of refugees, those shortcomings became increasingly apparent. The imposition of border restrictions and the subsequent closure of the Western Balkan route in March 2016 resulted in trapping about 50,000 third-country nationals in Greece. This created inter alia an unprecedented burden on the Greek reception system.[2] Since then, the number of reception places has increased mainly through camps and the UNHCR accommodation scheme, until the latter was terminated at the end of 2022. Despite this increase, destitution and homelessness remain a risk, which has continued affecting asylum seekers and refugees,[3] particularly following the Greek government’s decision to link eligibility for the cash-based support provided in the context of material reception with residence in Greece’s reception system, coupled with the termination of ESTIA and systematic application of the “safe third country” concept in cases where provisions of article 38 Directive 2013/32/EU are not fulfilled in practice.

The Reception and Identification Service (RIS), operating under the General Secretariat for the Reception of Asylum Applicants of the MoMA, is the responsible authority for the reception of asylum seekers,[4] including of unaccompanied minors.[5] Following the full handover of “ESTIA” to the MoMA in May 2021,[6] the RIS has also been responsible for managing the accommodation programme, in collaboration with implementing partners,[7] until the programme was terminated in December 2022. Yet as far as GCR is aware, the RIS had stopped receiving new referrals for accommodation to ESTIA, even for highly vulnerable cases, several months before the programme’s termination. Following the entry into force of the Asylum Code and relevant amendments by L. 4960/2022, the Special Secretary for Unaccompanied Minors (SSUM) of the MoMA remains the competent authority for the protection of UAM, including for the referral and accompaniment of UAM to dedicated accommodation facilities for UAM and the implementation of Guardianship.[8]


Temporary accommodation centres

In 2016, in order to address the needs of persons remaining in Greece after the imposition of border restrictions along the so-called Western Balkan route, a number of temporary camps were created on the mainland in order to increase accommodation capacity.

Article 10 of L. 4375/2016[9] provided a legal basis for the establishment of different accommodation facilities.

In addition to Reception and Identification Centres,[10] the Ministry of Economy and the Ministry of Internal Affairs may, by joint decision, establish open Temporary Reception Facilities for Asylum Seekers (Δομές Προσωρινής Υποδοχής Αιτούντων Διεθνή Προστασία),[11] as well as open Temporary Accommodation Facilities (Δομές Προσωρινής Φιλοξενίας) for persons subject to return procedures or whose return has been suspended.[12] As of 17 December 2019, the sites for the construction of controlled, open and closed facilities, as well as all facilities, including those intended for the accommodation of unaccompanied minors, throughout the Greek territory, is approved by the newly constituted position of the National Coordinator for the response to and management of the migration-refugee issue (Εθνικός Συντονιστής για την αντιμετώπιση και διαχείριση του μεταναστευτικού προσφυγικού ζητήματος), following recommendations of the competent services.[13] Following a further amendment in February 2020, the specific competency of the National Coordinator was revoked and replaced with the authority for ‘organising, directing, coordinating and controlling the Unified Border Surveillance Body’ (“Ενιαίο Φορέα Επιτήρησης Συνόρων” or ΕΝ.Φ.ΕΣ)[14]. Lastly, and amongst others, as per the amendments brought forth by L. 4686/2020, the Ministers of Finance, of Citizen Protection and of Migration & Asylum can decide on the establishment of Closed Temporary Reception Centres and Closed-Controlled Island Centres for asylum applicants subject to a detention order, for asylum applicants or persons subject to a return procedure or whose removal has been suspended, provided that restrictive conditions have been imposed on them.[15] As per the same amendment, Reception and Identification Centres (RICs), Closed Temporary Reception Structures, Pre-Removal Detention Centres (PRDCs), as well as separate areas with appropriate specifications for the accommodation of third country nationals or stateless persons belonging to vulnerable groups can operate within the aforementioned Closed Temporary Reception Centres and Closed-Controlled Island Centres.

As of 24 March 2020, following the issuance of a relevant Joint Ministerial Decision of the Ministers of Finance and of Migration & Asylum,[16] all temporary accommodation centres (i.e. mainland camps) and emergency facilities (i.e. hotels) have been regulated. Before that, the only three facilities officially established on the mainland were Elaionas,[17] Schisto and Diavata,[18] with the rest operating without an official manager, through Site Management & Support. As of May 2020, following a decision issued by the Minister of Migration and Asylum,[19] Directors were assigned for a period of a year, which is renewable for up to an additional 2 years, to the entire island, RICs and the temporary mainland accommodation centres. In the same month, as per Joint Ministerial Decisions issued by the Ministers of Environment and Energy, of Internal Affairs and of Migration and Asylum, the locations and the construction of the new island RICs on Leros (“Ormos Lakki” location, with a surface area of 25,514.09 m2), Samos (“Zervou” location, with a surface area of 244,789.34 m2) and Kos (“Mesovouni” location, with a surface area of 25,514.09 m2) were decided.[20]

During 2019, 950 requests from homeless asylum seekers or asylum seekers under precarious living conditions on the mainland were sent from the Directorate for the Protection of Asylum Seekers (DPAS) to the Reception and Identification Service (RIS), for a place in an open accommodation facility on the mainland. Only 55 applicants were finally offered an accommodation place in a facility (5.7%).[21] Relevant data has not been provided since 2020 yet some indications of ongoing and new challenges, including following the termination of the ESTIA program, can be inferred from the observations of GCR’s Social Unit in 2022.

In 2022, more than 146 asylum applicants (families, single-headed families, and individual applicants) reached GCR’s Social Unit to request support with accessing accommodation in the context of reception. In 52 cases (71 persons) GCR’s Social Unit referred the applicants to the competent service and the applicants were placed either in the ESTIA accommodation programme (up to March 2022) or in camps. The reminder (75 persons) denied to even be referred, after being informed that they would only be able to receive reception conditions in a camp. Overall, in GCR’s experience the termination of ESTIA and the transformation of Greece’s reception system into one near unilaterally focused on isolated, camp-based accommodation, has ‘resulted in many people losing their trust in the country’s Reception system, preferring to search on their own for alternatives to cover their needs, despite the fact that this increases the risk of being again exposed to violence and exploitation’.[22]

The capacity and occupancy of accommodation sites can be seen in the following table:

Capacity and occupancy of the asylum reception system: March 2022 (for camps) / December 2022 (for CCACs)
Centre Capacity Occupancy at end of March 2022 (for camps) & December 2022 (for RICs/CCACs)
Lesvos CCAC 8,000 1,709
Samos CΑCC 2,040 1,013
Chios CCAC 1,014 374
Leros CΑCC 1,780 358
Kos CΑCC 2,356 917
Agia Eleni 462 176
Alexandria 584 241
Andravida 498 194
Diavata 906 552
Drama 390 199
Elaionas 1,820 1,588
Filippiada 737 295
Katsikas 1,152 676
Kavala 1,207 272
Klidi-Sintiki 492 ———-
Korinthos 896 638
Koutsochero 1,678 600
Lagadikia 426 129
Malakasa 1,785 864
Nea Kavala 1,680 520
Oinofyta 621 351
Ritsona 2,948 2,283
Schisto 1,358 742
Serres 1,651 736
Thermopyles 560 195
Thiva 956 488
Vagiochori 792 216
Veria 489 201
Volos 149 83
Grand total 39,427 16,610

Source: IOM, Supporting the Greek Authorities in Managing the National Reception System for Asylum Seekers and Vulnerable Migrants (SMS), March 2022, available at: https://bit.ly/43mIVEv; National Coordination Centre for border Control, Immigration and Asylum, Εικόνα Κατάστασης Στο Ανατολικό Αιγαίο 31.12. 22, 31 December 2022, available in Greek at: https://bit.ly/45kpuOq.


ESTIA accommodation scheme

UNHCR started implementing an accommodation scheme dedicated to relocation candidates (“Accommodation for Relocation”) through its own funds in November 2015.[23] Following a Delegation Agreement signed between the European Commission and UNHCR in December 2015,[24] the project was continued and UNHCR committed to gradually establishing 20,000 places in open accommodation, funded by the European Commission and primarily dedicated to applicants for international protection eligible for relocation.

In July 2017, as announced by the European Commission, the accommodation scheme was included in the Emergency Support to Integration and Accommodation (ESTIA) programme funded by DG ECHO, aiming to provide urban accommodation and cash assistance to a maximum of 30,000 applicants by the end of 2017. The European Commission provided assurances that funding for the accommodation programme of asylum seekers in apartments would continue in 2019.[25] The takeover of activities by AMIF, managed by DG HOME, was confirmed in February 2019.[26]

A year and a half later, in July 2020, the Commission’s commitment to the continuation and expansion of the programme was re-affirmed by the Ministry of Migration and Asylum, during the ceremonial tripartite agreement between the EC, UNHCR and the Ministry, for the gradual handover of the renewed ESTIA II programme to the Greek state. A total of €91.5 million (AMIF funds) were approved for the programme’s continuation in 2020, with the Ministry stating that its aim would be to increase the programme’s available accommodation places from 25,000 to 40,000 by 2021.[27] As noted by the then UNHCR representative in Greece, ‘[e]nsuring the viability, efficiency and quality of this exemplary programme, should be our common goal, as it has proven to enable a successful ‘living together’ between refugees and local communities across Greece’.[28] In November 2020, another € 91.5 million was approved for the programme’s continuation in 2021.[29]

Yet despite the MoMA’s previously stated aims, between December 2021-February 2022 the number of accommodation places under the ESTIA II programme was significantly reduced to 16,875.[30] This was followed by a sudden announcement in February 2022 that by mid-April the programme’s capacity would be further reduced to 10,000 places and that the programme would be terminated by the end of the year.[31]

Though reasons may vary for this inconsistency, it is important to note that had the programme reached the initially stated capacity of 40,000 places, it could have provided a significantly improved alternative to camps for all registered new arrivals for both 2021 (9,157) and 2022 (18,780)[32].

Instead, the Greek government’s decision to terminate ESTIA, in spite of available alternatives, amounts to the consolidation of a camp-based approach to reception, where applicants’ access to some of their rights (material reception conditions) is subject to their isolation from society, where other rights, such as access to healthcare or education, cannot be effectively fulfilled.

The decision to terminate ESTIA also hinders integration prospects and ultimately delays the integration process for those granted international protection in Greece, given that, as inter alia noted by the Commission, ‘[i]ntegration happens in every village, city and region where migrants live, work and go to school or to a sports club’[33]isolation can only function in the opposite direction. It also led to a significant setback to the integration efforts already carried out by the programme’s beneficiaries, including families with children, while virtually forcing others, such as people with serious and/or chronic health conditions, to interrupt access to necessary care,[34] if they wished to retain their right to access the reception system.

As noted in December by a family supported by GCR, following their eviction from ESTIA and transfer to a camp on the mainland:

‘We had little by little started to integrate into Greek social life. My children were going to school, my wife was attending classes to become a housekeeper, I had managed to get a job contract. We also had a baby. Our daily schedule was full, well planned […] Unfortunately, we were forced to go 3-4 hours away from where we were staying, to start everything all over again. When you find out you’re leaving, it ruins everything, even the job I got. With the time it takes to get from camp to work, it just doesn’t work. The kids were seeing their classmates, going on field trips, learning and seeing the city. I could see that they were on their path and that made me very happy. Now they are restless, traumatised. They don’t go to school; they spend the whole day cooped up in a small space. I see the adults too, all day, morning and evening, they do nothing, they don’t go anywhere, because transportation is difficult and expensive. It is a prison’.[35]

As further noted by RSA in the same month: ‘[s]uddenly, children had to leave their schools, hobbies and friends, adults their language and vocational classes, persons with (mental) health problems had to interrupt their treatment. Those who had found occasional work moved far away from their small job opportunities’.[36] Short notifications of eviction (e.g. even 2 days) without information on where the applicants would be moved after exiting ESTIA, and the lack of organised transportation in many cases, have also been observed as further negative factors, inter alia causing undue anxiety and stress.

 ‘We lived in the flat in Athens for around two years. Then we were suddenly informed we had to be transferred to a camp within two days. They told us we had no choice. Now we are in the camp. We have to start from zero again’, stated a single mother from Afghanistan. ‘Only one week before the transfer to the camp were we told the exact location’, stated a father of a 12-year old, while adding: ‘It is not just a step backwards for my daughter and me, it’s like uprooting a young tree that just found some strength to grow. The house was our home and the only place where my daughter felt safe […] We were pulled away from any chance to heal and integrate’. In some cases, the former residents of ESTIA were not informed at all about the place where they would be provided with accommodation following their eviction from ESTIA: ‘We don’t even know which camp we’ll go to’, said the Afghan father of three daughters.[37]

The termination of ESTIA also raises questions with respect to Greece’s capacity to fulfil obligations arising vis-à-vis applicants falling under article 21 of Directive 2013/33/EU. As noted in an interview by UNHCR’s communication officer, Stella Nanou: ‘it is reasonable for the accommodation capacity to be adapted to the population of asylum seekers in the country’, but UNHCR considers that ‘a number of apartments should be maintained in the urban fabric’, as a type of asylum seeker accommodation ‘necessary for the most vulnerable asylum seekers and their families to live in safe conditions and with easier access to necessary services’.[38]

In March 2022, in the context of referring for accommodation to ESTIA a highly vulnerable applicant, single woman, survivor of serious gender-based violence (GBV) incidents –including in the RIC from which she had been transferred– with burn scars on her body, and in need of regular medical and psychosocial support, GCR received the following reply from the MoMA: ‘we will never again accommodate refugees in apartments, but only in camps’. After consistent effort by GCR’s Social Unit, the applicant was ultimately placed in ESTIA. Yet this was the last time a GCR beneficiary was accepted to accommodation other than a camp, despite the fact that there have since been several more applicants with similar vulnerabilities, which on several occasions have been accentuated and/or resulted from past traumatic experiences in Greece’s camps, where (amongst others) GBV incidents continue being reported to this day.[39]

In a slightly hopeful development, in January 2023 it was reported that the MoMA would initiate an informal, even if severely limited (up to 500 places), alternative accommodation scheme within the first quarter of 2023, aimed at covering the needs of severely vulnerable applicants.[40] Yet GCR is not aware of any development on this front up to April 2023.

ESTIA II accommodation scheme: September-November 2022*
Type of accommodation Capacity
Total number of reported places 10,363
Resident population during reporting period 1,843
Reported occupancy rate 18%

* Last publicly available data for ESTIA since the programme was terminated in December 2022.

Source: MoMA, ΕSΤΙΑ 2022 Factsheet – September/October/November 2022, 30 November 2022, available in Greek at: https://bit.ly/3YPrj2f


Between September-November 2022, the ESTIA II accommodation programme operated in 1,683 apartments and 76 rooms found in 9 buildings, in 19 cities throughout Greece. Out of the total of 10,363 places reported by November 2022, 404 were reported on the islands of Crete and Tilos, as the programme had been terminated on the rest of the islands by November 2021.

In total, 93,000 individuals have benefitted from the accommodation programme since the start of its implementation in November 2015.

Out of the 1,843 people reported to be accommodated under the programme between September-November 2022 –which is also the last reporting period for which public data are available– 781 were beneficiaries of international protection. During the same period, 42% of all residents were children, while the clear majority of those accommodated continued being families with children, primarily from the DRC (23%), Afghanistan (20%), Syria (11%), Iraq (9%), and Iran (5%).[41]


The islands and accommodation in the hotspots

Immediately after the launch of the EU-Türkiye Statement on 20 March 2016, Reception and Identification Centres (RIC) –the so-called “hotspot” facilities– were transformed into closed detention facilities due to a practice of blanket detention of all newly arrived persons.[42] Following criticism by national and international organisations and actors, as well as due to the limited capacity to maintain and run closed facilities on the islands with a large population,[43] this practice was largely abandoned shortly afterwards. As a result, before the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent establishment of the new CCACs, islands RICs were mainly operating as open reception centres, albeit similar to mainland camps.

In March 2020, following the breakout of the global COVID-19 pandemic, those residing in RICs and camps became subject to disproportionate restrictions of their freedom of movement in the context of measures aimed at restricting the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.[44] These restrictions have continued being renewed up to December 2022, even though restrictive measures in the context of the pandemic had largely stopped being applied for the rest of the population.

The latest JMD for 2022,[45] which was issued on 31 December, replicating wording available in previous such decisions, and with application to the RICs, CCACs, Controlled Temporary Accommodation Centres and more broadly facilities hosting third country nationals throughout the country’s territory, inter alia maintains:

  • ‘The possibility of circulation of third country nationals residing in the RICs, CCACs and other accommodation facilities throughout the territory strictly within the respective perimeter that the Greek Police (EL.AS) will implement, in accordance with its operational planning.’
  • ‘’Every day and from 7:00 to 21:00, representatives of families or groups of people staying in the RICs, CCACs and other accommodation facilities for third country nationals are given the opportunity to travel to the nearest urban centres to meet their needs. In areas where it is possible to travel by public transport, this shall be done without causing confusion on the means of transport concerned. The control of the above measures is carried out by personnel of the EL.AS.’

Following a controversial press briefing on the Government’s operational plan for responding to the refugee issue, on 20 November 2019,[46] it was announced that the island RICs would be transformed into Closed Reception and Identification Centres that would simultaneously function as Pre-Removal Detention Centres and which would have a capacity of at least 18,000 places. The announcements inter alia raised serious concerns and were condemned by a wide array of actors, including members of the European Parliament – who addressed an open letter to the Justice and Home Affairs Council – the CoE Commissioner for Human Rights,[47] as well as GCR and other civil society actors,[48] and local communities in Greece, who have on several occasions continued to display their opposition to the creation of new centres on the islands.[49]

Notwithstanding this, it should be mentioned that throughout 2019 people residing in the RICs continued to be subjected to a “geographical restriction”, based on which they are under an obligation not to leave the island and to reside in the RIC facility (see Freedom of Movement). Moreover, as mentioned, since March 2020, asylum seekers residing in RICs and mainland camps remain subject to a further and disproportionate restriction of their movement, in the context of measures aimed at countering the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. These disproportionate restrictions, with small variations, continued to be imposed, albeit implemented differently in different locations, up to the end of 2022. As per the latest relevant Joint Ministerial Decision issued as of the time of writing, covering the period between 30 January-13 February 2023, exit from the facilities (includes RICs and the totality of accommodation centres for third-country nationals) is only allowed between 7am-9pm, only for representatives of families or groups, and only in order to meet essential needs in the nearest urban centres’.[50]

As noted by FRA in November 2020: ‘Greece never lifted all the restrictions on refugee camps and reception facilities adopted at the outset of the pandemic. These included restricting residents’ movement within the limits of the camps and banning or restricting visitors, which affected the provision of social services’.[51]

More than 35 Joint Ministerial Decisions, inter alia imposing and/or renewing or amending restrictions in the RICs and camps were issued in 2022[52]. Additionally, full lockdowns were imposed on several occasions on the island RICs namely the RIC of Lesvos, between 2-15 September 2020, the RIC of Leros between 15 September-12 October 2020, the RIC of Samos, between 15 September-25 October 2020, and the RIC of Chios, between 13-25 August, and again between 14 October and 11 November 2020, based on relevant Ministerial Decisions.[53] No relevant data has been provided for 2021 at the time of writing.

Beyond the hotspots, each island had an additional, though limited, number of facilities, inter alia operating under the ESTIA II accommodation scheme or NGOs for the temporary accommodation of vulnerable groups, including unaccompanied children. Albeit, following the Ministry of Migration and Asylum decisions to shut down dignified accommodation alternatives, namely PIKPA Lesvos and PIKPA Leros in November 2020, as well as the municipal Kara Tepe camp in Lesvos in April 2021,[54] PIKPA Lesvos, and the announced plan to terminate the ESTIA accommodation scheme on the islands by November 2021[55], these have gradually given way to the new Closed-Controlled island facilities in 2021[56], as the exclusive form of first-line reception starting 2021. The first such Centre was inaugurated in Samos in September 2021, in an isolated area in the region of Zervou, and already within two months of its operation the facility’s resemblance to a prison, with residents being subject to disproportionate and severe measures of control and movement restrictions tantamount to de facto detention measures for some, was evident.[57] As noted by Médecins sans frontières (MsF) in September 2021, the new facility “is a dystopian nightmare that contributes to [refugees’] isolation and their further re-traumatisation”.[58] Three months following the facility’s inauguration, in December 2021, the Court of Syros confirmed the unlawful character of the prohibition of exit imposed by the Greek state on residents of the facility, in a case brought forth by GCR.[59] The Closed-Controlled Centres of Leros and Kos became operational in November 2021.[60] The relevant facilities in Lesvos and Chios have yet to become operational as of the time of writing of this report.

As of 31 December 2022, 4,735 persons remained on the Eastern Aegean islands, of whom 36 were in detention in police cells and the Pre-Removal Detention Centre (PRDC) of Kos, 14 were in detention in the police cells of Rhodes and 2 in Ikaria. The nominal capacity of reception facilities reached 15,790 places, which includes the RIC of Lesbos and Chios, the temporary Mavrovouni camp, the Closed-Controlled Centres of Samos, Kos and Leros, the accommodation facility of West Lesbos functioning as a quarantine unit for new arrivals and the accommodation facility of Tilos and other accommodation facilities, including shelters for UAM.[61]

More precisely, the figures reported by the National Coordination Centre for Border Control, Immigration and Asylum, under the Ministry of Citizen Protection, were as follows:

Accommodation on the Eastern Aegean islands: 31 December 2022
Island RICs & Closed-Controlled Centres MoMA UAM accommodation Other facilities
Nominal capacity Occupancy Nominal capacity Occupancy Nominal capacity Occupancy Nominal capacity Occupancy
Lesvos 8,000 1,709 168 157 352 128
Chios 1,014 374 20 11
Samos 2,040 1,013 20 16
Leros 1,780 358
Kos 2,356 917
Others 40 0
Total 15,190 4,371 52 3 208 184 352 128

Source: National Coordination Centre for Border Control, Immigration and Asylum, Situational Picture in the Eastern Aegean 31.12.2022, 1 January 2023, available in Greek at: https://bit.ly/3V3rTIw and https://bit.ly/3OFlP83.  




[1] ECtHR, F.H. v. Greece, Application No 78456/11, Judgment of 31 July 2014; Al.K. v. Greece, Application No 63542/11, Judgment of 11 March 2015; Amadou v. Greece, Application No 37991/11, Judgment of 4 February 2016; S.G. v. Greece, Application No 46558/12, Judgment of 18 May 2017, A.D. v Greece, Application no. 55363/19, Judgement of 4 April 2023.

[2] See also AIRE Centre and ECRE, With Greece: Recommendations for refugee protection, July 2016, available at: https://bit.ly/3WRDBXE, 7-8.

[3] Amongst others see M. Kakaounaki, ‘Thousands of refugees back out in the cold’, Kathimerini, 20 January 2023, available at: https://bit.ly/3mWTzm3; K. Fallon, ‘Destitution is almost inevitable’: Afghan refugees in Greece left homeless by failed system’, 30 November 2022, The Guardian, available at: https://bit.ly/3HbNicW; GCR, Diotima Centre & IRC, Homeless & Hopeless: An assessment of the housing situation of asylum applicants and beneficiaries of international protection in Greece, January 2022, available at: https://bit.ly/3uwZ2zC; Refugees in Greece: Risk of Homelessness and Destitution for Thousands during Winter, Joint Announcement of 74 civils society organisations, 22 December 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3nIBofT.

[4] Article 1(ιστ) Αsylum Code.

[5] Article 64 (2) Asylum Code as amended.

[6] ECRE, ‘Greece: Hearing Reveals Hostile Environment for Human Rights Defenders, Strategy of Deflection and Denials on Pushbacks Continue, ESTIA Cash Scheme Unravels as Government Takes Over’, 15 October 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3LmNohy.

[7] MoMA, ESTIA Programme, see: https://bit.ly/439SeIj.

[8] Article 64 Asylum Code.

[9] As in force after replacement with article 29 of L. 4825/2021 regarding reform of deportation and returns procedures, attraction of investors and digital nomads, issues of residence permits and of procedures for granting international protection, provisions of the competence of the MoMA and of the Ministry of Citizen Protection and other urgent provisions.

[10] Article 10(1)-(2) L 4375/2016. The article has not been abolished by the IPA and remains the same.

[11] Article 10(4) L 4375/2016. The article has not been abolished by the IPA and remains the same.

[12] Article 10(5) L 4375/2016. The article has not been abolished by the IPA and remains the same.

[13] Article 11 (2)(d) of L. 4650/2019, on the Regulation of Issues pertaining to the Ministry of Defence and other matters is abolished with article 48 of L. 4960/2022 regarding the National Guardianship System and Accommodation Framework for Unaccompanied Minors.

[14] Article 190 L. 4662/2020.

[15] Article 30 (4) and (5) L. 4686/2020 amending articles 8 and 10 of L. 4375/2016 respectively.

[16] JMD 2945/2020 on the ‘Establishment of Temporary Reception Structures for Third-Country Nationals or Stateless Persons who have applied for international protection’, Gov. Gazette 1016/Β/24-3-2020.

[17] JMD 3/5262, ‘Establishment of the Open Facility for the hospitality of asylum seekers and persons belonging to vulnerable groups in Elaionas Attica Region’, 18 September 2015, Gov. Gazette B2065/18.09.2015; JMD 3.2/6008 ‘Establishment of the Open Facility for the temporary reception of applicant of international protection’, 18 September 2015, Gov. Gazette B’ 1940/6.06.2017.

[18] JMD 3/14762, ‘Establishment of Open Facilities for the Temporary Hospitality of applicant for international protection’, Gov. Gazette Β’ 3720/16.11.2016.

[19] Ministerial decision 4512/19.05.2020 of the Minister of Migration and Asylum, Gov. Gazette Government Gazette, Volume of Special Position Employees and Administration Bodies of the Public Sector and the Broader Public Sector Agencies, no.381/23-05-2021.

[20] JMD 4712, 4711 and 5099, Gov. Gazette 2043/Β/30-5-2020.

[21] Idem.

[22] GCR, ‘Evictions, homelessness and setbacks to integration’, 30 November 2022, available in Greek at: https://bit.ly/3Lwyh8f.

[23] UNHCR, Greece: Accommodation for Relocation Project Factsheet, 1 July 2016, available at: http://bit.ly/2lNOmLG.

[24] European Commission, ‘European Commission and UNHCR launch scheme to provide 20,000 reception places for asylum seekers in Greece’, IP/15/6316, 14 December 2015, available at: https://bit.ly/433cbQZ.

[25] UNHCR, ‘Interview with UNHCR Representative in Greece on housing programme for asylum-seekers’, 19 February 2018, available at: http://bit.ly/2sJf6lh.

[26] European Commissoin, ‘Greece – End of activation of the Emergency Support Instrument (DG ECHO)’, 13 February 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/2Sll5UV.

[27] MoMA, ‘European funding of 92 mil. Has been approved and a contract has been signed for the ESTIA II-2020 Programme’ (‘Εγκρίθηκε η Ευρωπαϊκή Χρηματοδότηση ύψους 92 εκ και υπεγράφη σύμβαση για το Πρόγραμμα ESTIA II-2020’), 15 July 2020, available in Greek at: https://bit.ly/3gG3B5c.

[28] UNHCR, ‘Towards ESTIA II: UNHCR welcomes Greece’s commitment to ensure the continuation of flagship reception programme for asylum-seekers’, 15 July 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3vpoRk6.

[29] MoMA, ‘The ESTIA programme continues in 2021 with full European funding’ (‘Συνεχίζεται το 2021 το πρόγραμμα ΕΣΤΙΑ, με πλήρη Ευρωπαϊκή Χρηματοδότηση’), 30 November 2020, available in Greece at: https://bit.ly/3tWxPow.

[30] MoMA, ΕSΤΙΑ 2021 Factsheet December 2021 – January/February 2022, 28 February 2022, available in Greek at: https://bit.ly/3JQFwEt.

[31] MoMA, ‘Th e accommodation programme ESTIA II to be concluded (‘ολοκληρώνεται’) in 2022’, 22 February 2022, available in Greek at: https://bit.ly/35m5UXW.

[32] Data on arrivals retrieved from UNHCR’s operational data portal for Greece at: https://bit.ly/3WubNsb.

[33] EC, Action plan on Integration and Inclusion 2021-2027, 24 November 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/41DzCz2, 7.

[34] GCR, ‘Evictions, homelessness and a setback to integration’, 30 November 2022, available in Greek at: https://bit.ly/3LfqbAu.

[35] Aggelidis, D., ‘Homeless [‘ανέστιοι’] refugees without ESTIA’, EfSyn, 24 December 2022, available in Greek at: https://bit.ly/3LvxNis.

[36] RSA, ‘A Step Backwards for Protection and Integration: On The Termination of the Estia II Housing Programme for Asylum Applicants’, 22 December 2022, available at: https://bit.ly/3HmVE1F.

[37] Ibid.

[38] Ecopress, ‘ESTIA: the programme ends, thousands of properties are rented out’, 17 November 2022, available in Greek at: https://bit.ly/3qwwvMj.

[39] Information inter alia acquired from the Lesvos Inter-Agency Coordination Meeting of 27 March 2023.

[40] Ta Nea, ‘From ‘ESTIA’ to social housing’, 6 January 2023, available in Greek at: https://bit.ly/3AeHziJ.

[41] MoMA, ΕSΤΙΑ 2022 Factsheet – September/October/November 2022, 30 November 2022, available in Greek at: https://bit.ly/3YPrj2f.

[42] AIDA, Country Report Greece: 2016 Update, March 2017, available at: https://bit.ly/3J8Qw23, 100 et seq.

[43] UNHCR, Explanatory Memorandum to UNHCR’s Submission to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on developments in the management of asylum and reception in Greece, May 2017, available at: https://bit.ly/3IN3hPk, 10.

[44] Though measures for the general population have largely fluctuated throughout the year, also depending on the epidemiological actualities of each location, residents of RICs and camps have been consistently subject to a horizontal restriction of their movement between 7pm-7am, with representatives of families or groups only allowed exit the respective facilities in order to cover essential needs, as per consecutive Joint Ministerial Decisions issued since 21 March 2020. Amongst others, see HRW, ‘Greece Again Extends Covid-19 Lockdown at Refugee Camps’, 12 June 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3fmYncl.

[45] JMD Δ1α/ΓΠ.οικ. 75297 on Emergency measures to protect public health against the risk of further spread of COVID-19 coronavirus in the whole territory from Sunday, 1 January 2023 at 06:00 until Monday, 30 January 2023 at 06:00, published on 31 December 2022, available in Greek at: https://bit.ly/3na7qVX, Annex II.

[46] Greek Government, ‘Political Press Briefing – the Government’s Operational Plan for dealing with the migrant issue’, 20 November 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/2RO2Kml.

[47] Council of Europe, ‘Commissioner seeks information from the Greek government on its plans to set-up closed reception centres on the Aegean islands’, 3 December 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/38X2GX4.

[48] For instance, see GCR, ‘The Greek Authorities announcements on the refugee issue are in contrast to national and international law’, 21 November 2019, available (in Greek) at: https://bit.ly/36Q4Oyu; The Guardian, ‘Aid groups condemn Greece over ‘prison’ camps for migrants’, 25 November 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/2S4YXzW.

[49] For instance, see ekathimerini, ‘More protests against new island centres on the way’, 10 January 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/31fwkEp; Efsyn, ‘The papers say one thing and N. Mitarakis says another’, 26 April 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3t2kiuc and GCR – SCI, GREECE – ADVOCACY UPDATE: March-April 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/2SNIsw2, 4-5.

[50] Annex II, JMD Δ1α/ΓΠ.οικ. 17567, Gov. Gazette 1454/B/25-03-2022, available at: https://bit.ly/3NxeOmL, as replaced at the time of writing with JMD Δ1α/ΓΠ.οικ. 5432/2023.

[51] FRA, Coronavirus pandemic in the EU – fundamental rights implications: focus on social rights, Bulletin 6, November 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3eUZDEC, 31.

[52] All relevant JMDs can be found in this site: https://bit.ly/3qd6lho.

[53] Summary of information provided by the RIS on 11 February 2021.

[54] ECRE, ‘Greece: Well-run PIKPA Camp Evicted while Situation on Islands and Mainland Continue to Deteriorate’, 6 November 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3hwbbQo; MoMA, ‘Termination of the temporary hosting site of PIKPA Leros’ (‘Τερματισμός λειτουργίας προσωρινής δομής φιλοξενίας ΠΙΚΠΑ Λέρου’), 27 November 2020, available in Greek at: https://bit.ly/2SSrMnb; Oxfam & GCR, ‘Closure of model camp on Greek islands amidst horrific living conditions is cause for concern’, 21 April 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/33Ns54W.

[55] As per the Ministry’s call for proposals for the ESTIA scheme for 2021, no new applications for the (a) Regional Unit of Lesvos, (b) Regional Units of Evros, Rodopi and Xanthi, (c) Regional Unit of Chios, (d) Regional Unit of Samos, (e) the Municipality of Leros and (f) the Municipality of Kos will be accepted under the programme. Furthermore, the remaining aprtaments operating under the scheme in Lesvos and Chios are eligible for renewed funding only up to 30 November 2021, after which they will cease to operate. MoMA, Call for proposals for the ESTIA 2021 programme with the title ‘ESTIA 2021’: Accommodation scheme for international protection applicants, 30 November 2020, available in Greek at: https://bit.ly/3fm9ZfW, 11, 13.

[56] Amongst others, see AMNA, ‘The RIC of Kara Tepe was closed – N. Mitarakis: an important step in the national effort to decongest the islands’ (‘Έκλεισε το ΚΥΤ του Καρά Τεπέ – Ν. Μηταράκης: Σημαντικό βήμα στην εθνική προσπάθεια αποσυμφόρησης των νησιών’), 7 May 2021, available in Greek at: https://bit.ly/3eTMM5s, and astraparis, ‘An end to ‘ESTIA’ on Chios and Lesvos, all refugees in closed centers’ (‘Τέλος το «Εστία» σε Χίο και Λέσβο, όλοι οι πρόσφυγες στα κλειστά κέντρα’), 30 November 2020, available in Greek at: https://bit.ly/3yePnyG.

[57] GCR, ‘The new Closed Controlled Facility in Samos: An isolated ‘modern prison’?’, November 2021, available in Greek at: https://bit.ly/38d1Z0N.

[58] efsyn, ‘Medecins sans Frontieres: the new facility in Samos is a dystopian nightmare’, 18 September 2021, available in Greek at: https://bit.ly/3iPSWEW.

[59] GCR, ‘The Administrative Court of Syros ruled unlawful the measure of prohibiting the exit of an Afghan asylum seeker from the new Closed Controlled Access Facility of Samos (CCF Samos)’, 22 December 2022, available at: https://bit.ly/3qMfOtv.

[60] MoMA, ‘New Closed Controlled Center in Leros’ and ‘New Closed-Controlled Cetner in Kos’, 27 November 2021, available in Greek at: https://bit.ly/36APk7w and https://bit.ly/38eyXxN.

[61] National Coordination Centre for Border Control, Immigration and Asylum, Situational Picture in the Eastern Aegean 31.12.2022, 1 January 2023, available in Greek at: https://bit.ly/45kpuOq.

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