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Humanitarian assistance and social protection responses to the forcibly displaced in Greece

Research report

Written by Angelo Tramountanis, Apostolos Linardis, Aliki Mouriki, Patricia Gerakopoulou, Dimitra Kondyli, Olga Papaliou, Christina Varouxi, Simon Levine

Image credit:Nightwalkers, by Zeinab. “They walked in the night to find a light”.

In 2015–2016, approximately 1.2 million refugees and asylum seekers from war-torn and povertystricken countries in Asia travelled through Turkey to Greece and continued via the western Balkan route to other European countries. In March 2016, that movement came to a halt, which left approximately 57,000 people stranded in Greece. Already facing the effects of a severe economic crisis, the Greek government requested assistance to cope with the unprecedented situation. Assistance has been delivered since 2015 predominantly via EU funds and institutions, with UNHCR playing until 2021 a pivotal role in coordinating all the actors involved and in managing the newly established humanitarian assistance mechanism.

The potential for humanitarian assistance to link with national social protection systems to meet the needs of both displaced and host communities is an area of growing interest. Yet, there is a knowledge gap on the practical implications of such linkages and what the impacts might be on different population groups (Peterman et al., 2018). For instance, it is not clear whether and how more integrated social protection provisions affect social cohesion within and between displaced and host communities.

To help address this knowledge gap, ODI was commissioned by the World Bank to lead a two year project (2020–2022) exploring when and how humanitarian and social protection systems can work together to respond to forced displacement in various contexts. Funded by an FCDO-financed Trust Fund on Forced Displacement, the project has several components, including primary research in three countries across six study sites that represent a range of contexts in terms of income levels, geographies, displacement situations, humanitarian response models and social protection system maturity.

This report presents the findings from the primary research in Greece, which was carried out in the first half of 2021 by researchers at the EKKE research centre, in partnership with ODI.

This output is part of a larger two-year research project studying approaches to assisting affected populations in contexts of forced displacement. For more information and other project outputs, see here.