Food is becoming scarce in Greek refugee camps

Status: 12/22/2021 1:19 p.m.

In Greece there are problems with the distribution of cash to refugees. As a result, many of you can no longer buy essentials. Aid organizations are alarmed.

By Verena Schälters, ARD-Studio Athens

Aid organizations are sounding the alarm: Many refugees in Greece do not have enough to eat. There was a breakdown in cash withdrawals in October and thousands of people have not been able to buy food since then. The State Secretary for the initial reception of migrants, Manos Logothetis, assures that the problems will soon be resolved – at the latest at the beginning of the new year: “This week we will be distributing the cards in the initial reception facilities and the apartments, and next week when we do Once we get the new cards, we can distribute them in the other refugee camps in Greece. ”

A giro card for every refugee

For two months, thousands of refugees in Greece have waited in vain for aid to be disbursed. An EU-funded aid program aims to ensure that asylum seekers receive some cash that they can use on their own.

The UN Refugee Agency has been responsible for distributing the funds since 2017: every asylum seeker – or every family – received a giro card to which the corresponding amount was transferred monthly. But on October 1st, the UN refugee agency handed over the procedure to the Greek government.

14,000 people affected

Since then, there has been no cash, and this particularly affects the people who – because they are considered to be particularly vulnerable – were not accommodated in the camps. A family of four normally gets 420 euros a month for groceries and clothing. “Around 14,000 people live in apartments provided by the state and have not received any support since September because the cash aid program was handed over to the Greek government,” says Melina Spathari from the Terre des Hommes aid organization. “It seems that the Greek government was not prepared to undertake such a complex and logistically difficult project.”

High bureaucratic hurdles

The Greek government contradicts: It took six months to prepare. Ultimately, however, it was not possible to agree with the banks on the conditions, for example with regard to costs and collateral, said State Secretary Logothetis. “There is this ‘know your customer’ procedure, which is quite difficult. We have to verify the physical presence, so that the beneficiary is still in Greece and is also the actual beneficiary of the program,” explains Secretary of State Logothetis.

In addition, there is a completely different problem: Rejected asylum seekers are not entitled to further benefits and are officially not even allowed to live in a refugee camp. But because many don’t know where to go, they stay and try to find their way through somehow.

No integration measures for recognized refugees

But even for recognized refugees, the situation is hardly better, Spathari reports: “Recognized refugees have no way of getting by on their own because there are no integration measures. Although they are entitled, they cannot open a bank account and take on a real job. Often they are absent the right papers and a permanent address because they can’t find an apartment. ” Even if the government can resolve the cash problem by January, thousands of migrants in Greece will remain at risk of hunger.

Refugees in Greece: Many people are hungry

Verena Schälter, ARD Athens, 22.12.2021 · 11:10

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