On 4 December 2012, an agreement here in Norway was signed which will offer €4 million to non-governmental organisations in Greece for running reception centres and offering services to vulnerable asylum seekers, especially unaccompanied minors.
There are very few reception centres in Greece. Many asylum-seekers and unaccompanied minors are therefore homeless, sleeping in parks and public squares. They live in precarious conditions that raise concerns for their safety as well as for public health.
Most of the reception centres in Greece are run by non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and they depend on short-term and unstable funding. This programme will run for three years making it possible for the NGOs to plan ahead, work with local authorities and improve and expand the services they offer to asylum seekers. The programme will contribute to the Greek government’s reform of the asylum and migration sector, which was started in 2010, and has strong backing also from the European Commission.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Greece will be responsible for the programme. In January 2013, IOM in Greece will launch a call for proposals. NGOs that run reception centres but wish to improve or expand them, or NGOs that wish to start new reception centres, might apply for funding. The NGOs are encouraged to work with host municipalities and other local authorities. The projects to be supported should preferably be outside the Athens area.
This funding to NGOs is part of a €20.9 million allocation from Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the EEA Grants to improve the asylum- and migration sector in Greece.
The agreement was signed between the Regional Director Europe of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), Mr Bernd Hemingway, and the Director of the Financial Mechanism Office (FMO), Ms Stine Andresen.