During a joint press conference with the Representative of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR),Philippe Leclerc, Alternate Minister of Immigration Policy Ioannis Mouzalas outlined the relocation plans for refugees in local camps in the regions of Thessaly. The pilot program, which is in collaboration with the EU, will be initially implemented on a voluntary basis and will provide refugees with cash in hand, instead of food rations. Local Greek house-owners will be able to rent out their apartments to an estimated 10,000 refugees who will take part in the program in 2017, which is expected to expand to include another 10,000 next year with families and asylum applicants taking priority. The Greek Minister said the government was not confiscating apartments to house refugees. “We are simply asking the leasing [of apartments] in free market conditions in large municipalities in the country”, he underlined. He continued by claiming the program would give local economies a “breather”, adding that all this would be possible provided the EU-Turkey agreement would remain in effect. He argued that this would result in the decongestion of the packed refugee camps. Mr. Mouzalas said that there were 40.000 people in 40 camps currently, while with the implementation of the new plan this number would fall to 17-20 camps with a maximum of 500 people each.