RLI Working Paper Series: Paper No.28 published

Friday 24 August 2018

We are pleased today to publish the next paper in our RLI Working Paper Series (Paper No. 28):

'Challenges in transitioning recognised refugees away from humanitarian assistance in Greece'
by Ben Mascall (a recent graduate from our MA in Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies).

View the paper here.


With a focus on urban refugees in Athens, and using a mixed method approach to generate and triangulate the data, this research identifies key challenges in transitioning recognised refugees away from humanitarian assistance in Greece. It finds that the refugees are generally a long way from integrating, and with few opportunities to become self-reliant many will need to transition onto to social welfare, which for administrative reasons is difficult to access. Greek social welfare does not cover social housing so it will need to be augmented with other coping strategies, such as sharing accommodation and working in the informal sector, which may expose the refugees to exploitative conditions.

Several of the challenges related to the attainment of refugee self-reliance stem from complex public policy and funding concerns, which are exacerbated by the economic crisis and austerity. They are also symptomatic of funding restrictions that have prevented civil society organisations from more adequately supporting refugee integration. Nevertheless, the lack of a plan from the central administration regarding the transition away from humanitarian assistance has led to confusion and uncertainty among the refugees, civil society and local government.

Many would argue that much of the humanitarian funding that was provided for the refugee response in Greece was intended to encourage the refugees to remain there, rather than continuing into Northern-Europe. However, if the refugees are unable to attain self-reliance and social welfare does not cover their basic needs many may embark on secondary migration anyway, despite the risks that this might pose for them.

This research argues that a wide range of stakeholders should be involved in the development of a transitional plan; civil society in particular can help to identify and articulate the challenges that refugees face in becoming self- reliant and in accessing social welfare. It also argues that until such time as the transition can take place without creating a protection gap for the refugees, UNHCR should continue to provide recognised refugees with cash assistance and accommodation.