Τoday, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency and partner Catholic Relief Service (CRS) handed over the management of a five storey building located in western Athens, Sepolia neighbourhood, to the Municipality of Athens as a gesture of appreciation to the Greek society.
The ceremony took place at the Athens Town Hall, in the presence of the Mayor, Mr. Giorgos Kaminis, the Vice-Mayor for Solidarity, Welfare and Equality, Ms. Maria Stratigaki, the Vice – Mayor for Migrants, Refugees and Municipal Decentralization, Mr. Lefteris Papagiannakis, the Vice – Mayor for Civil Society and Innovation, Ms. Amalia Zepou, UNHCR Assistant Representative, Mr. Giovanni Lepri, CRS EuroZone Representative, Mr. Mark D’Silva, and Secretary General of Caritas Hellas, Ms. Elisavet Ioustinianou.
“Today’s ceremony echoes UNHCR and the humanitarian communities’ mandate of protecting the vulnerable and restoring the dignity of persons in need. Such projects help us fight against ignorance and promote solidarity, integration and peaceful coexistence. Today’s hand over ceremony is another example of how the accommodation project for refugees in Greece gives back to the greek society in multiple ways” said Giovanni Lepri, UNHCR Assistant Representative.
The building, with 10 apartments fully refurbished by CRS, will now be part of the Athens Municipality’s social housing scheme for vulnerable Greek families. In particular 20 single parent households will be accommodated in the building.
Athens Municipality was particularly generous in their show of solidarity from the beginning of the refugee crisis and collaborated in establishing, through UNHCR’s Urban Accommodation Scheme, more than 20,000 reception places for the relocation candidates and vulnerable asylum seekers in Greece in 2016. CRS is an important partner to the Accommodation Scheme, establishing a total of 1,278 places country-wide through 11 buildings and providing social services. UNHCR acknowledges and appreciates the expertise of CRS and the Municipality of Athens, partners that contributed in setting successful examples of solidarity, inclusiveness and humanity.
UNHCR continues to support the Greek Government this year, with funding by the European Commission, by establishing dignified accommodation for the asylum seekers in Greece.