ESTIA, the UNHCR accomodation scheme

Through ESTIA, the Emergency Support to Integration and Accommodation programme, funded by the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund of the European Union, UNHCR in cooperation with the Greek Government, local authorities, municipalities and partner NGOs provides urban accommodation and cash assistance to refugees and asylum-seekers in Greece.

According UNHCR data1, by the end of October 2019, UNHCR had created 25,545 places in the accommodation scheme as part of the ESTIA programme. These were in 4,475 apartments and 14 buildings, in 14 cities and 7 islands across Greece. Since November 2015, more than 60,000 have benefitted from this scheme.

Who can get a place in the UNHCR accommodation scheme?
  1. People who belong to vulnerable groups
  2. People waiting for Family Reunification
  3. People waiting for Relocation to another EU country

get priority for places in the UNHCR accommodation scheme.

An asylum seeker can get a place in the UNHCR accommodation scheme only through a referral from a RIC, social services in a camp, or an NGO.

Categories of vulnerable asylum seekers in national law
  • Children
  • Unaccompanied children
  • Single parents with minor children
  • Parents and siblings of shipwreck victims
  • People with a disability
  • Elderly people
  • Pregnant women
  • Victims of Human Trafficking
  • People with serious illnesses
  • People with mental disorders
  • Victims of torture
  • Victims of rape
  • Victims of other serious psychological, physical or sexual violence
UNHCR partners

As of end of October 2019, UNHCR is implementing the accommodation scheme through 23 partnerships with 12 national and international NGOs and 11 municipalities:

NGOs Praksis, Nostos, Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Iliaktida, Solidarity Now, Arsis, Intersos, Omnes and Perichoresis.

Municipalities of Athens (ADDMA), Thessaloniki (MUNTHESS), Trikala (E-TRIKALA), Livadia (KEDHL), Larissa (DIKEL), Nea Philadelphia -Nea Chalkidona (KEDFX), Karditsa (ANKA), Tripoli (PARNONAS), Piraeus (KODEP), Tilos (TILOS) and a consortium of municipalities in Crete (HDA)

GCR (Greek Council for Refugees) and METAdrasi provide social, legal and interpretation support.

EPAPSY (Association for Regional Development and Mental Health) provides mental health services.

Urban accommodation provides a normal daily life for refugees and asylum seekers in Greece, facilitates their access to services, including education, and the eventual integration for those who will remain in the country.  Apartments under this scheme are fully furnished and equipped with household items. UNHCR or a partner organization pays the rent and bills.

Assigned accommodation supervisors help the residents to access social services, interpreters, basic medical care and legal assistance.

The host population also benefits from embracing diversity through peaceful coexistence as well as the renting of their apartments.

Cash assistance restores dignity and empowers refugees and asylum-seekers who can now choose how to cover their basic daily needs. It also contributes directly to the economy of the host community through the purchase of services and goods. More than 128,000 asylum seekers and refugees received cash assistance through UNHCR.





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