Mayor: Charis Doukas
Athens is the capital of Greece and the largest municipality in the country. Its population amounts to 643, 452 inhabitants according to the 2021 population census.
In 2015, Athens began welcoming tens of thousands of refugees, playing a leading role in managing the refugee crisis. With social cohesion and integration as a priority, the Municipality of Athens implements and supports initiatives that contribute to the reception and integration of refugees and migrants.
In this context, the municipality ensures, through its provided services, the elimination of discrimination by promoting the principle of equal treatment. Indicatively, the Municipality of Athens provides services to the homeless and people in need, the unemployed, women victims/survivors of gender-based violence and the elderly. The integration policies of refugees and migrants are part of the wider scope of activity of the Municipality to support the vulnerable groups of the population.
Specifically, the Municipality of Athens, recognizing the difficulties of refugees and migrants in navigating the social benefits system as well as in their access to the labor market, established the Migrant Integration Center (KEM). The purpose of KEM is to provide guidance to refugees and migrants in order to familiarize themselves with the public service system, to learn the language, to understand the local labor market and to have access to rights and services. KEM operates as a local reference point for refugees and migrants providing psychosocial support, legal counseling and information on access to social rights while hosting activities to promote social inclusion, such as Greek, English and IT courses, as well as vocational counseling.
Since the end of 2021, the KEM has hosted the innovative project “Providing targeted support and assistance to asylum seekers and beneficiaries of international protection with disabilities”, through which the Municipality of Athens, in collaboration with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, seeks to support asylum seekers and beneficiaries of international protection with disabilities or chronic diseases in the process of joining the social welfare system. At the same time, as of April 2021, at KEM, experienced volunteers in teaching language and culture courses and seminars provide online preparatory courses in language, history, geography and pop culture to those who wish to participate in the citizenship exams.
At the same time, the Municipality of Athens has signed a Memorandum of Cooperation with the NGO “Metadrasi” and supports the first hostel in Greece for homeless minors, most of whom have a migrant or refugee background.
Having developed services and mechanisms at the local level, the Municipality of Athens strengthens its cooperation with civil society and European stakeholders and international organizations while actively participating in city networks in Greece and Europe.
At the Athens Coordination Center for Migrant and Refugee issues (ACCMR), the Municipality of Athens, in collaboration with the IOM and the UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, brings together over 100 members covering a wide range of organizations specializing in services related to protection and integration. Its main goal is the effective coordination between the municipal authorities and the involved bodies for the creation of the necessary conditions for the smooth integration of migrants and refugees and the promotion of social cohesion. A key tool for ACCMR is its digital platform. www.accmr.gr. Launched in 2018, this participatory platform facilitates the mapping of services and initiatives for refugees, migrants and local communities within the Municipality of Athens. It allows the exchange of information and referrals between professionals, so that beneficiaries have adequate access to services.
At the same time, communication with the refugee and migrant communities in a regular and systematic way is a necessary condition for building cities without exclusions. The Migrant and Refugee Integration Council (SEMP) serves as a forum for migrant and refugee communities to be formally involved in the design, implementation and evaluation of programs that directly or indirectly affect them.
Last but not least, through the Cities Network for Integration (CNI), in which participate total of 18 Municipalities of Greece, the Municipality of Athens promotes policies and synergies for social cohesion and inclusion.
It’s worth noting that the City of Athens through the Athens Development and Destination Agency (ADDA) was from 2017 a strategic partner of the Ministry of Migration and Asylum and the UN international organizations (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration, participating in the management and provision of services in the large-scale housing program ESTIA and the Open Accommodation Centre of Eleonas.
The Municipal Authority treats integration as a two-way process that requires mutual commitment and includes rights and obligations for both sides. Designing and implementing policies that take into account the economic and social aspects of integration, as well as historical, cultural and religious diversity, citizenship, political rights and migrants’ participation in the community, is a vision for the City of Athens.
ΚΕΜ functions as a local point of reference for the provision of specialized services – psychosocial support, legal counseling and information on social rights- to third country nationals (migrants and refugees) in order to improve living standards, access to labor market and social integration of the respective populations. Through KEM, beneficiaries are supported for the submission of applications for social benefits and are referred to specialised services provided as needed.
The social inclusion initiatives under KEM include: (a) Greek language courses and elements of Greek history and Greek culture for adults, preparing them for Greek language certification exams, (b) English language courses, and preparation for English language certification exams (A2), (c) Computer courses and preparation for the basic computer skills certification exams (d) Individual professional counseling sessions.
In addition, intercultural activities are organised, with emphasis on theatrical and other artistic activities aimed at children and youth of refugee origin, third country nationals and Greeks.
KEM is part of the Community Centres. The activities of KEM are implemented with the co-funding of the European Social Fund-National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) 2014-2020.MORE
The Migrant and Refugee Integration Council (MRIC – ΣΕΜΠ) serves as a consultation body on migration and refugee issues and supports the integration of third-country nationals in the local community.
M.R.I.C.’s role involves the following responsibilities:
The Municipal Authority seeks to integrate the migrants and citizens of migrant origin, through the participatory process under the framework of MRIC. Also, through the MRIC, the aim is to strengthen the effective participation of migrants, as social partners, in the design, implementation and evaluation of social inclusion policies and the development of advisory structures.
Contact Details: [email protected]
The Athens Coordination Center for Migrant and Refugee issues (ACCMR) serves as a hub for coordination between the local government and civil society, international organizations and the central administration, in order to implement complementary interventions in the field of integration and to create a framework for a coordinated response in case of emergencies.
Know-how exchange, networking and cooperation as well as the development of common tools, are the main activity areas of ACCMR.
In this context, the Municipality of Athens in September 2020 signed a memorandum of cooperation with 39 key – civil society organizations.
*Since April 2020, the International Organization for Migration and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees support ACCMR on the basis of a trilateral cooperation with the Municipality of Athens.MORE
The Shelter was inaugurated in June 2013. It operates on a 24/7 basis, 365 days a year. Specialised staff (social worker, psychologist, pedagogue) provides safety and hospitality, food, socio-psychological support and care for women and their children.
The shelter aims to support, empower and reintegrate women into community life and the labour market. Guests are all women regardless of the age, religion or nationality, who have been victims of any form of violence: physical, psychological, sexual or economic. The accommodation offered in the shelter is temporary and transitional.
Legal counseling and assistance are provided through the social services of the City of Athens, Women’s Counseling Centers of the General Secretariat for Gender Equality or other public services, which facilitate access to employment, education, health and welfare services.
The Shelter is funded by the programme “Operation of Local Government Structures and Services in favour of Women and for Combating Violence – Development and Operation of Shelters” NSF (2014-2020).MORE
The opening of the Centre for Combatting GBV and multiple discrimination of the Municipality of Athens, signals a new era for Social Solidarity services for the city. The centre welcomes all adults regardless of gender, which have been affected by violence (psychological, physical, sexual, including victims of social and financial oppression), as well as people on the receiving end of any sort of abuse in their family environment (domestic violence), and people which are victims of multiple discrimination (refugees, migrants, people with disabilities, the unemployed, single parents).MORE (Greek)
The purpose of the Center for Reception and Solidarity of the Municipality of Athens (KYADA) is to address the problems of vulnerable populations affected by poverty and experiencing exclusion and social isolation. Through its structures, the Reception and Solidarity Center supports approximately 26,000 citizens each month.
The operation of KYADA started in 2005.
The services of KYADA currently include:
In addition, KYADA:
The Municipality of Athens with the Reception & Solidarity Center (KYADA), in collaboration with the Organization Against Drugs (OKANA) the Addiction Treatment Center (KETHEA), with the valuable help of the “Mission” of the Holy Archdiocese of Athens and with “Network of Peer Users of Psychoactive Substances”, “PRAKSIS”, “Doctors of the World”, the Association of Liver Patients “Prometheus” and the Association of HIV-positive people of Greece “Positive Voice”, created a new structure to provide people who are homeless and at the same time have problems with addiction and / or addiction to psychoactive substances, temporary housing.
As a primary healthcare provider, the Municipal Health Clinic network offers all citizens a range of basic healthcare and social welfare services, including:
In the Municipality of Athens there are 6 Municipal Clinics, one of which is multifunctional.MORE (Greek)
The City of Athens, through the Athens Development and Destination Management Agency (ADDMA), and in partnership with UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, in Greece, implements the project “Provision of targeted support and assistance to asylum seekers and beneficiaries of international protection with disabilities” aiming to facilitate the access and improve the support provided to asylum seekers and beneficiaries of international protection with disabilities during the process of their inclusion in the national social welfare system.
The Project´s target group consists of persons with disabilities (both minors and adults), who reside in the city of Athens, and have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments, which in interaction with various factors or/and barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society.
The main pillar of the project is the provision of support to beneficiaries for the completion of the disability certification process and the submission of an application for the disability allowance.
In particular, the services provided under the specific project include:
The Project is implemented by ADDMA in close collaboration with the Migrants’ Integration Center (KEM) of the Municipality of Athens. The Social Service of the project proceeds with booking of appointments upon referrals. Please note that we cannot respond to self-referrals.
EATA, aiming at upgrading the quality of life of the city’s residents by utilizing all European financial and policy tools and in the context of the development dimension of the Integrated Spatial Investment of the Municipality of Athens, implements Sub-Project 1 “Athens Social Protection Network – Open Social Net ”of the Act “ Social Protection Network of Athens – Open Social Net ”with code OPS (MIS) 5074888 of the OP. “Attica 2014 – 2020”. The project is co-financed by the ESF.
The object of the project is the focus on the unified design of services with the aim of maximum efficiency and emphasis on social inclusion and employment. It concerns the creation of a strong network of solidarity and social protection in which all the competent Directorates, Structures and Legal Entities of the Municipality and third parties will functionally join. It is expected to be at the neighborhood level, the operational arm of operational interconnection, coordination, monitoring and evaluation of social inclusion policies, prevention of social exclusion, development of innovative employment actions as well as immediate intervention to deal with emergencies.
The project includes, inter alia, actions to fill the gap in access to information, prevention and full support to all stakeholders and beneficiaries of social protection services. The main tool of the project will be the design of a model of intervention actions, through which the following are specialized:
Current project actions: