Access To Cash Assistance

1. Information regarding the payment you have received: 

  1. According to the plan of the Ministry of Migration and Asylum, UNHCR’s cash assistance program is concluding at the end of September 2021. The entitlement you have received is the last payment from UNHCR. As of October 2021, the Greek authorities will be responsible for providing assistance to asylum-seekers to cover their basic needs. 
  1. The Greek Ministry for Migration and Asylum has issued a decision (Ministerial Decision 115202/26.07.2021) revising the cash assistance amounts as per below: 
Where meals are provided
Family size Amount
Individual over 18 years75 euros
A couple, or a parent and child 135 euros
A family of three160 euros
A family of four or more210 euros
Where meals are NOT provided
Family size Amount
Individual over 18 years150 euros
A couple, or a parent and child 270 euros
A family of three320 euros
A family of four or more420 euros

The above change came into effect as of 26.07.2021. This is why the amount you have received might be reduced compared to previous payments (if you are a family of two or have more than 5 members in your family). 

  1. Beneficiaries of international protection (recognised refugees and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection) residing in state-run facilities who were considered by the state authorities as meeting the vulnerability criteria required by the Ministerial Decision received one month’s entitlement (for August).
  1. Asylum seekers residing in state run facilities received two months’ entitlement (for August and September). This is why the payment done in August, a lumpsum for August and September, is the last one by UNHCR until the Government takes over the cash assistance programme.
  1. Asylum seekers who do not reside in state run facilities and have been referred to UNHCR by the Ministry of Migration and Asylum as having applied for state accommodation and whose application is still pending received payment for July retroactively, and for August and September, i.e. three months’ lumpsum. 
  1. Please remember that the prepaid UNHCR cash cards will be deactivated on 15 September 2021 and any funds need to be withdrawn before this date.
  1. In case your cash card is lost, stolen or damaged please contact the Cash Helpline or the Cash help desk of your reception/accommodation facility immediately. Replacement of lost cash cards will be possible until the end of August but depending on where you reside you will need to check at your site to find out the dates of visits to the facilities / sites by cash actors. The Cash Helpline will not offer troubleshooting beyond 15 September, the date of card deactivation. Please keep your card in a safe and secure place at all times.”

2. Questions and Answers regarding the closure of UNHCR’s ESTIA cash assistance programme (as of 16 July 2021)

Question (Q): Is the UNHCR cash programme coming to an end? 

Answer (A): Yes, according to the plan of the Ministry of Migration and Asylum, UNHCR’s cash assistance programme is concluding at the end of September 2021. As of 1 October 2021, the Greek authorities will be responsible for providing assistance to asylum-seekers to cover their basic needs. 

Q: Until when will I receive cash assistance from UNHCR?

A: The last payment by UNHCR will be made in the beginning of August and the amount will cover two months, August and September. 

Q: Will the UNHCR cash cards be deactivated? 

A: Yes, the prepaid UNHCR cash cards will be deactivated on 15 September 2021. Funds in the cards must be withdrawn before 15 September 2021. UNHCR will be sending SMS reminders on a regular basis to cardholders regarding the deactivation deadline. 

Q: In case I lose my card, what should I do?

A: In case your cash card is lost, stolen or damaged you should contact the Cash Helpline or the Cash help desk of your reception/accommodation facility immediately. Replacement of lost cash cards will be possible until the end of August but depending on where you reside you will need to check at your respective site to find out the dates of visits to the facilities / sites by cash actors. The Cash Helpline will not offer troubleshooting beyond 15 September, the date of card deactivation. Please keep your card in a safe and secure place at all times.

Q: In case I face problems with my cash card, what should I do?

A: Contact the Cash Helpline. Please note that the prepaid UNHCR cash cards will be deactivated on 15 September 2021 and any funds need to be withdrawn before this date. 

Q: I just arrived in Greece as an asylum-seeker, how do I register to receive cash assistance?

A: In case you reside in a formal state reception facility the competent authority managing this facility will inform UNHCR about your presence. These are open reception facilities, Reception and Identification Centres (RICs), the ESTIA accommodation programme, and shelters cooperating with the Ministry. New enrollments for cash assistance will stop after 20 July 2021. According to government policy, cash assistance will be provided only to asylum-seekers who are accommodated in the above formal reception/accommodation facilities for asylum-seekers recognized by the Greek Authorities. If you seek referral to an official accommodation facility, you must follow the referral instructions as per the following link: https://help.unhcr.org/greece/living-in-greece/access-to-cash-assistance/

Q: I reside in an open reception facility (site). Until when will cash actors visit the facilities?

A: Cash actors will continue visiting the mainland reception facilities until the end of August providing technical support, but after 20 July no new enrolments or issuance of new cash cards will take place. Replacement of lost cash cards will be possible, but cash actors will visit the sites only on specific dates. Make sure you know the schedule by checking at your respective site and please keep your cash cards safe. 

Q: What do I need to do to continue receiving cash assistance after October 2021?

A: As soon as the Greek authorities share with UNHCR more information about the future modality to provide assistance to cover basic needs, UNHCR will share this information widely. 


3. Questions and Answers on discontinuation of cash assistance to asylum seekers being self-accommodated (as of 8 June 2021)

Question: I am self-accommodated, will my cash assistance be discontinued?

Answer: As per the announcement of the Ministry of Migration and Asylum (MMA), as of 1st July 2021 cash assistance will no longer be provided to asylum seekers who are self-accommodated. Therefore, your last payment will be for June 2021. 

Q: I do not have the means to survive without the cash assistance I was provided with, what should I do now?

A: According to the decision of MMA, cash assistance will be provided only to asylum-seekers who are accommodated in formal accommodation structures for asylum seekers recognized by the Greek Authorities. These are open reception facilities, Reception and Identification Centres (RICs), ESTIA accommodation programme, and shelters cooperating with the Ministry. You can apply to be accommodated in one of these accommodation facilities; this requires you to contact a referral agency. Once you are registered as a resident in one of the facilities you will be eligible for cash assistance. 

Q: Can I register in one of the accommodation facilities, receive the cash assistance and not live there?

A: No. You will have to be a resident of the facility. Each month the facility will confirm your presence and only upon this confirmation you will continue to receive cash assistance. 

Q: Where and how can I apply for accommodation?

A: You can apply in one of the NGOs or KEMs that operate in your city, including the urban cash centres in Athens and Thessaloniki. You can find NGOs who support asylum seekers here: https://help.unhcr.org/greece/where-to-seek-help/other-services/ Due to COVID measures, it is better if you call first to ask whether they can support you with your application for accommodation and book an appointment. If you are in a remote location you can approach the nearest state open reception facility and seek information. 

Q: Can I apply electronically? Is there a platform I can apply on my own?

A: No, applications cannot be submitted directly by asylum seekers, but through organisations that are registered in a dedicated referral platform. These organizations will ask you personal details, including family status, language etc in order to fill your application for accommodation. Please call organizations in your area and ask them to book an appointment. 

Q: I face some problems and am afraid to live with other people. What shall I do?

A: Your particular situation will be taken into consideration. You need to tell the organization that is making the accommodation request for you, the particular characteristics of your situation, your language, your special needs if any, your family status and any issues you are concerned about. The MMA will undertake efforts to consider all your individual characteristics and find you suitable accommodation either in an open reception facility on in an apartment of the ESTIA programme. 

Q: I have made friends in my neighborhood; my children go to school here. Will I be given suitable accommodation near-by?

A: This is not sure. Your current place of residence will be taken into consideration but you may be offered housing in a different location. When you receive a place in an accommodation facility, there will be services there to support you. 

Q: If I apply for accommodation who will inform me about whether a place is found for me/my family? 

A: The organization that will help you make the application for accommodation. This is why it is very important to give them your updated contact number and inform them of any change. 

Q: By when do I need to apply for accommodation?

A: The soonest possible. As it will take some time for the Ministry to identify a suitable place for you, it is very important you approach an organization and start the procedure as soon as possible. 

Q: If I make an application for accommodation and the MMA does not identify a place for me by end June 2021, will my cash assistance continue after end June 2021?

A: According to the announcement of the MMA as it stands now, cash assistance to everyone who is not a resident of an accommodation facility will be discontinued. If you are in need of accommodation and cash assistance you need to make an application for accommodation as soon as possible. UNHCR will meanwhile continue to discuss with the authorities in this regard.

Q: How long will I be able to stay in these accommodation facilities? 

A: For as long as you are an asylum seeker and until a final decision on your asylum application is reached. 


4. The Greek Ministry for Migration and Asylum has issued a decision (Ministerial Decision 2587/26.06.2020) revising the cash assistance amounts as per below:


Since April 2017, cash assistance in Greece has been delivered through the Greece Cash Alliance (GCA) which is a group of NGOs partnering with and led by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) with European Commission (EC) funding and in cooperation with the Greek Ministry of Migration Policy. In 2018 GCA is led by UNHCR and comprised of:

  • Catholic Relief Services (CRS) in partnership with Caritas
  • International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in partnership with Hellenic Red Cross (HRC)

The safety and security of all beneficiaries of cash assistance, staff members and members of the general public is of the utmost importance. For security reasons, any threats or acts of violence or intimidation, or aggressive behavior towards any individuals will be reported to the Greek authorities for their action in accordance with Greek law. Additionally, such actions may result in the suspension of activities and possibly of assistance altogether to the responsible persons. Furthermore, such actions may lead to delays in the provision of cash assistance.

Cash assistance is provided via a GCA cash card which is distributed to you by UNHCR and GCA cash staff. This card functions in all ATMs and point-of-sale (POS) machines in shops and supermarkets throughout Greece. This card will not function and will be permanently deactivated if used outside of Greece.

Cash assistance is provided to you in order to help you cover basic needs for the next 30 days from the time the cash is transferred to your card. It is not a salary or an entitlement or right assured to you indefinitely, but a means of assistance provided to persons of concern in Greece to support your ability to meet basic needs. The duration of cash assistance in Greece is provisional and depends on the decision of the Greek authorities, the availability of funding as well as certain eligibility criteria which can change over time.

GCA staff conducting data collection and certification exercises or card distributions are only able to assist you with information or advice about cash assistance. GCA staff are not responsible to advice on other issues or on the provision of services and asking them to do so may slow down the cash assistance process.

UNHCR Protection Desk staff are present during some of the data collection activities to advise you in a confidential manner on any sensitive issues you may be experiencing that may not be related to cash assistance.

NGOs and other actors who operate in the formal sites and accommodation and provide other types of services are not responsible for cash assistance. Cash assistance is the sole responsibility of one of the above mentioned cash agencies members of the GCA, operating in your location in partnership with UNHCR.

You are requested to cooperate with UNHCR and GCA cash staff during all cash related monthly activities. Please make sure to keep all documents issued by the Greek authorities, as well as your GCA card and the receipt that you signed when your card was distributed to you, stored safely with you at all times. Make sure you have them ready to present to cash staff during all cash-related data collection activities. You are advised for security reasons to store your cash card and PIN number separately.

UNHCR and GCA staff will request to examine all your Greek identification documents during data collection activities. Concealing any documents in an attempt to defraud the system, or to receive multiple cards or multiple payments will not result in you receiving additional cash assistance. On the contrary, it may result in the delay or suspension of your cash assistance.

Protect your GCA cash card at all times, do not give your card to anyone, including UNHCR or GCA cash staff. GCA staff will never ask you to return your card even when and if you leave Greece or if you have issues with your cards. If anyone asks you to hand over your card, please contact the helpline or inform the GCA staff at the site helpdesk as soon as possible.

Please store your cash card safely and take care of it at all times to avoid losing or misplacing it. Replacing a cash card is a process that involves several steps and can take up to a month, therefore will result in delays in your cash transfer.

You will receive the following information at the time you receive your cash card:

  • General information leaflets on cash assistance in Greece detailing the amounts you will receive;
  • Your cash card and your PIN number which you will need to use to withdraw cash at ATMs;
  • Instructions on how to use an ATM;
  • The cash helpline number and the cash card provider number to enable you to report any complaints or issues;
  • A printed receipt which you sign, stating when the card was issued, and indicating your UNHCR system registration number. It is strongly advised that you maintain the UNHCR printed receipt provided to you when the card is issued so that if required, you may be asked to present this alongside with your official identification documents issued by the Greek authorities. This receipt is a reference, for UNHCR Accommodation partners or Greece Cash Alliance agencies to identify you and to help solve any queries related to your card and cash transfers, and in case you move sites or there are problems with your card.

For further assistance you may contact the cash helpdesk staff if you are residing in a site, or the accommodation agency staff responsible for the location or apartment where you reside. The cash helpline is available to assist everyone who has queries related to cash assistance.

The helpline is not operational during national holidays.