The city of Trikala is broadly known for “The Mill of Elves” (Mylos ton Xotikon), its impressive Christmas park, which thanks to the joint efforts of Trikala Municipality and several bodies and supporters, has opened its doors for the 7th consecutive year welcoming thousands of people of all ages throughout the country. Among the visitors of the wondrous old stone-built Mill are also some of the most recent residents of Trikala city, the refugee families who are now living in the city in the framework of ESTIA programme.
The Municipality of Trikala, through its development agency e-trikala, is one of the thirteen towns and cities that participate in the Emergency Support To Integration & Accommodation – ESTIA programme, which is implemented by UNHCR in cooperation with partners, Municipalities and NGOs, with funding by the European Union Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid.
In Trikala city the programme started in July 2017 with the view to provide housing and services to 420 refugees and asylum-seekers in 70 apartments, while it also contributed to the gradual closure of the local refugee accommodation site (former Atlantik) by the competent Ministry of Migration
Policy. By the end of 2017, 281 refugees were accommodated in apartments in the city and provided with support services and financial assistance through cash cards. This allows them to meet their basic daily needs, while it also facilitates their access to the city’s daily life.
Mustafa, his wife Sultana and two of their children, aged 12 and 14 years old, are Syrian refugees, who this year had the opportunity to enjoy Trikala’s festive spirit, despite the difficulties they have gone through and the fact they miss their country. In their rented apartment they could prepare a festive meal and get ready for walks around the decorated city having fun in “The Mill of Elves” and making plans for their future.
Although their stay in Trikala city will be short, while they are awaiting to be reunited with the rest of their children in Austria, the family managed to make some new good friends, the children have been welcomed in the local school despite the language barriers and after all they regained their faith and hope that they can rebuild their lives in safety in a new place.