UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency in collaboration with the Municipality of Livadia and the Public Benefit Corporation of the Municipality of Livadia (KEDHL) announced on Thursday, January 27, the renewal of the Accommodation for Relocation Project in Livadia. In total, 70 apartments will host 420 relocation candidates and vulnerable asylum seekers in Livadia in 2017.
The project agreement was announced in a press conference held in the old townhall of Livadia by Philippe Leclerc, UNHCR’s Representative in Greece, Yiota Poulou, the Mayor of Livadia and Athanasios Alestas, the president of the Board of KEDHL.
“We were really impressed last year to see how quickly the project team became fully operational, the rental contracts were concluded and the project implementation started. The commitment of this team and the hospitality of the local community are invaluable assets that ensure safe accommodation and proper assistance to people who suffered so much in their countries of origin and on their long journey to Greece. They are just seeking safety and the chance to live a normal life again,” Mr. Leclerc said. He also thanked all actors in the city, the Municipality and the Regional Governorate for their cooperation. The UNHCR Representative added that Livadia is an example, proving that such a program can be supported and implemented successfully in other cities, too, not only in Athens or Thessaloniki.
The Mayor of Livadia expressed her joy that the accommodation program, designed some months ago, is now renewed for a whole year. She stressed that the program implementation constitutes a good practice at municipal level regarding the accommodation of refugees in apartments and that it owes its success to the workers of KEDHL and the Municipality’s departments. She extended special thanks to the medical staff of the city’s medical facilities, the teachers and the local citizens’ Network of Solidarity for their support to refugee families. Ms. Poulou also highlighted the benefits for the local community resulting from the project’s implementation; it cultivates humanitarian values while also boosting local economy.
On behalf of UNHCR, Mr. Giorgos Tsarbopoulos commented the excellent cooperation between all actors in the city of Livadia, stressing how critical it is that such projects are embraced by local authorities and host communities. It is on this basis, he highlighted, that smooth coexistence between refugees and locals can be built and xenophobia resulting from ignorance and prejudice can be prevented. Moreover, integration prospects for the refugee population that will remain in the country are reinforced, while reception of refugee children by the school community is based on a warm and caring atmosphere.
In October 2016, UNHCR and KEDHL signed an agreement for the rental of 55 private apartments in Livadia, for the accommodation and assistance of 330 relocation candidates and vulnerable asylum seekers. The project agreement signed on Thursday includes the 55 apartments (330 places) created last year and foresees 15 more (90 places).
The total 2017 budget of the project managed by KEDHL is 1,125, 724 Euros, covering the cost of renting and maintaining the apartments, as well as all costs for interpretation and psychosocial, medical, and legal support to persons accommodated.
Today, 37 refugee families live in Livadia: 270 asylum seekers in total, among which 125 children. It is to be noted that recently many of the children started attending classes in two nursery and four primary schools where they were welcomed by teachers, students and parents. Enrolment to secondary education schools will follow. UNHCR has already provided the new students with 115 school bags and school kits.
It was a day that started with the announcement of good news and ended with hope. The baby girl of Younas and Youisama was born Thursday early morning in the local hospital. It is the first new-born that will live with her parents and two sisters in an apartment in Livadia provided by the accommodation project. The Mayor, Giota Poulou, the president of the Board of KEDHL, Athanasios Alestas, and UNHCR’s Philippe Leclerc and Giorgos Tsarbopoulos, visited the happy family to the hospital to share warm wishes and blessings.