Commission has pledged to continue funding Estia programme for asylum seekers

The European Commission has made assurances that it will continue to finance the Estia housing programme placing asylum seekers in apartments in 2019, the representative of the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in Greece Philippe Leclerc told the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA) on Monday.

The Commission has given “guarantees” and “very firm assurances” that it will continue funding, he said, but this will no longer be given from DG ECHO, which has announced that it is departing from Greece, but from other sources that have not yet been decided (possible DG Home).

Leclerc asked that the European financing be “stabilised and become part of the national budget, so that municipalities feel more secure and can implement a programme that has been shown to bring very good results for both asylum seekers and local communities.”

After 2019, he noted, it would be better if more and more of the programme were fully implemented by the state budget and through agreements with municipalities, while the UNHCR will retain a “more supervisory role”.

According to the UNHCR weekly report, the Estia programme currently offers 23,374 hospitality places in apartments, buildings and hotels throughout Greece, in which 19,331 refugees and asylum seekers have been given places. The programme has seven participating NGOs and a number of municipalities.