Two aid project deals providing EUR 4 million to help Athens cope with effects of the economic crisis were signed at the city’s Mayor’s office on 26 February.
“We are very pleased to be able to contribute to alleviating the suffering of the most vulnerable populations in Athens,” said State Secretary Ms. Ingvild Stub from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the occasion of the signing ceremony for the two projects under the 2009-2014 EEA Grants Reserve Fund. The signing took place at Athens City Hall in the presence of Ms. Stub and Mayor George Kaminis.
Norway has agreed with Greek authorities to set aside a portion of the EEA and Norway Grants for emergency measures to help the poor and vulnerable. “The objective is to bring immediate aid to the individuals worst hit by the financial crisis.” Stub underlined that Norway is alert to the fact that Greece is going through difficult times.
Greece has seen an increasing number of families being pushed below the poverty line during the country’s economic downturn. Unemployment rose to nearly 28 percent at the end of last year. Although 2014 have seen some signs of “Greekovery”, still a quarter of the population are at the risk of falling into poverty. The need for help is most acute in and around Athens.
Of the EUR 4.3 million, half of it will go to support Kyada, a solidarity center under the auspices of Athens Municipality. The Norwegian support will enable the center, which currently provides food and clothes aid to 3500 families, to continue its work. In addition, a mobile team of health personnel will be established to seek out the homeless and drug abusers and offer them shelter and medical assistance.
The other half will be allocated to Solidarity Now, a programme established by Open Society Foundations. Solidarity Now is starting up a center offering health services, legal advice and jobseeker assistance for the poor and unemployed.
Together, the two projects are going to be able to reach out to an estimated 40 000 Athens residents.
Secretary Stub later met with both social workers and residents at an EEA-financed shelter in central Athens, operated by the humanitarian organization Doctors of the World. The shelter houses up to 70 asylum seekers and is giving priority to vulnerable groups including unaccompanied minors who have come to Greece on their own.
Greece will receive a total of EUR 63.4 million through the EEA and Norway Grants 2009-2014. The money being allocated to the projects in Athens is taken from a reserve and funds carried over from the funding period 2004-2009.