ATHENS — Migration and Asylum Minister Notis Mitarachi on Wednesday visited one of the Helios programme training centres for the integration of migrants operated by the International Organisation for Migration. Mitarachi was accompanied by the head of IOM office in Greece Gianluca Rocco.
The centre is one of 17 centres operating in Athens, Thessaloniki, Kilkis, Ioannina, Crete, Larissa, Karditsa, Trikala and Livadia. The lessons include integration training and learning Greek, while there is also support in finding work and somewhere to live. Additionally, there is a series of activities and events that aim to create opportunities for refugees to interact with the host society, underlining the importance of the refugees' integration in Greek society.
In statements, Mitarachi said that "it is extremely important those who are granted asylum to leave the existing reception structures and be able to stand on their own two feet. This is good for them and for society in general…We are a modern European country and accept the refugees who are in real need and help them become integrated in Greek society."
He also announced that the ministry's two new targets are the e-issuing of A Tax Registration Number (AFM) for refugees by the end of 2023 and a cashcard programme for asylum seekers.
On his part, Rocco said that after a ministerial decision that recognised refugees should leave reception camps and the apartments they were housed in, there was "a big increase in the refugees' level of interest in learning Greek language, finding out about the opportunities offered to them, finding a job and having a normal life in Greece." He also said that it was important that "the minister is sending a very strong message that Greece is next to these people and is trying to help them stay in the country".
The Helios programme is financed by the European Commission and aims to facilitate the integration of recognised refugees into the Greek society by subsidising the renting of apartments and their overall support.