ATHENS – Migration Policy chief Yiannis Mouzalas said he and the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR have brokered a deal to put asylum seekers in 125 apartments on Crete.
The program will cost 1.76 million euros ($1.92 million) and be funded by the European Commission it was reported by the Athens News Agency.
“It is a program which, wherever it has been implemented, and we already have the experience of housing 20,000 people, has never caused trouble, quarrels, clashes, or anything else,” he said in a joint press conference.
“On the contrary, it has offered the local community money which would otherwise go to camps and will now be spent inside the community with the apartments,” he added.
Mouzalas also announced that as of May 1, catering services in camps will be terminated and asylum seekers will instead be given cash to buy food and cook their own meals.
Greece is hosting more than 64,000 refugees and migrants who are stuck in the country with the suspension of a March, 2016 swap deal between the European Union and Turkey. There are more than 14,000 alone on Aegean islands near Turkey and officials want to get them off as fast as possible with summer tourists on the horizon.