Syrian refugee children in apartment in Greece provided by CRS and partners

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CRS in Greece

Since 2015, thousands of people have entered Greece, escaping conflict in their home countries, and seeking to rebuild their lives in Greece and Europe. As of the beginning of 2021, there are currently more than 170,000 refugees and asylum seekers in Greece. CRS is working to support persons of concern with immediate assistance and to integrate successfully into Greek society.    

Shelter and Accommodation – CRS and its partners presently support more than 2,500 asylum seekers with temporary accommodation in the urban areas of Athens and Thessaloniki. Families live in these apartments which have kitchens and bedrooms, and they participate in building management committees and integration activities with the local community. At the same time, CRS and partners provide support services to these same families to assist those seeking to integrate into Greek society. CRS receives direct support from the Ministry of Migration and Asylum in Greece under the ‘ESTIA’ program and implements the program in partnership with Caritas Athens and Caritas Hellas. CRS has subsidized accommodation for asylum seekers also in partnership with the Municipality of Athens.

Cash Assistance – With support through the United Nations Refugee Agency, CRS and Caritas Athens are assisting more than 17,000 persons of concern with monthly cash assistance at 14 different sites in Greece. People are receiving monthly cash assistance through pre-paid debit cards and CRS also runs a cash center in Athens to assist people with enrollment and information regarding the program. Having cash allows persons of concern to meet their basic needs as they see fit, giving them choice and a more dignified way to begin integrating into lives of normalcy and safety. It also recirculates the assistance into the local economy, thereby reducing any burdens placed on their host communities. 

Livelihoods and Integration Support – CRS also works to assist thousands of recognized refugees assimilate into Greece. This is through assistance in finding apartments, job counselling and training, and educational support. Refugees can visit ‘Integrated Learning Centers’ that allow refugees to learn the Greek language, receive job counselling services, and access job-related certifications. This enables self-reliance and supports refugees in becoming active members of Greek society. This integration pillar is supported by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and also by the European Regional Development Fund. CRS works in partnership with Caritas Athens and Caritas Hellas in implementing integration support for refugees.  



People served: approx. 92,000 since program launch.

Population: 10,768,477

Size: 50,949 sq miles; slightly smaller than Alabama

CRS' History in Greece

CRS began working with Caritas Athens and Caritas Hellas in the summer of 2015 providing direct relief assistance such as food, medical care, hygiene, clothing, water, and counseling. Assistance expanded in November 2015 to provide safe spaces for refugees and migrants to gain information, access clean bathroom and shower facilities, and access referrals. 

Since July 2016, as the population became more static, CRS and its partners have provided temporary urban shelter in refurbished apartment buildings. They also have cash cards and monthly cash loans for persons of concern living in government-run sites. 

CRS has received funding from the START Network, the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNCHCR), the UK Department for International Development (DFID), the O’Neil Foundation, Christian Aid, CAFOD, International Organization of Migration (IOM)Urban Innovative Actions (UIA)Ministry of Migration and Asylum of Greece (MMA) and other Caritas partners in support of the emergency relief, shelter, cash-assistance and protection programming implemented in Greece since 2015. CRS works in partnership with Caritas Hellas (Greece) and the diocesan partner Caritas Athens.