Second UA: 2/20 Index: EUR 25/1801/2020 Greece Date: 12 February 2020
Greece is one of the main recipient of asylum-seekers, refugees and migrants coming to Europe. Since 2015, with migratory
flows increasing and the lingering effects of the economic crisis, the Greek asylum and welfare systems have been under
constant strain. While Greece deserves commending for its efforts, and we must recognise EU’s policies failure to provide
meaningful support, asylum-seekers, refugees and migrants currently in Greece live in often abysmal conditions and, on
the long term, have little or no access to the social system or integration paths. With sea arrivals increasing in mid-2019,
the population on the Aegean islands has reached record numbers, with 42.041 people present as of 6 January 2020,
compared to only 17.034 on 6 July 2019. Despite the new government’s efforts to reduce arrivals and move people to the
mainland, overcrowding and appalling conditions in the camps are still routine.
Insofar as the access to healthcare is concerned, Greek Law 4368/2016 (Article 33) provides free access to medical and
pharmaceutical services to members of “vulnerable social groups”, including refugees, asylum-seekers and minors
irrespective of their legal status, including unaccompanied children and children without legal residence. According to the
same law, individuals falling under Article 33 must have a Social Security Number (AMKA) to access free public healthcare.
As of 2016, asylum-seekers and other members of “vulnerable groups” that do not fulfil the requirements for AMKA or do
not have one, are entitled to a Foreigner’s Health Care Card (K.Y.P.A) granting access to free healthcare in the public
system. However, the process to grant K.Y.P.A. has so far remained inactive. With a decision of July 2019, the Ministry of
Labour withdrew the circular that regulated how AMKA was to be granted to non-Greek nationals. Since then, there is no
procedure in place to grant AMKA to asylum-seekers and children of irregular migrants. In October, it was announced that
a new circular would regulate their situation, but to date it has not been issued.
The NGO MSF reported on the deterioration of the situation of their clinics in Lesvos, Samos and Athens, reporting how
between July and November 2019, their Day Care Centre in Athens experienced a ‘large increase in the number of patients
seeking care without AMKA: from 18% of patients in January to 43% in November’. The Greek NGO Positive Voice, that
deals with HIV patients, called on Greek authorities to grant access to anti-retroviral medications to non-Greek individuals,
noting that ‘in the first ten months of 2019, 43% of new HIV diagnoses in Greece concerned refugees and migrants (204
people)’ and that ‘Infections Units are unable to provide antiretroviral treatment to foreigners who do not have an AMKA,
thus endangering their health and lives’.
A new Asylum Law passed in November 2019, tried to overcome the issue, providing that asylum-seekers would have
access to public healthcare through a ‘Temporary number for insurance and healthcare for third-country nationals’
(PAAYPA). Irrespective of the new law, the PAAYPA system has until now been lacking practical implementation, exposing
many to uncertainty and health risks.
In Athens, in November 2019, a Pakistani man with cancer was unable to undergo a CT scan or begin chemotherapy due
to his inability to obtain an AMKA. He was eventually able to begin treatments thanks to a decision from the administration
of the Hospital that he had accessed, which allowed him to receive treatments free of charge by way of exception.
With the 31 January decision, the PAAYPA system will start being implemented. However, the system already presents
challenges, in that it fails to address the situation of children of irregular migrants and excludes asylum-seekers who have
not completed the registration of their asylum claims. Pending its implementation, the effectiveness and feasibility of the
system also remains to be seen.
PREFERRED LANGUAGE TO ADDRESS TARGET: English and Greek.
You can also write in your own language.
PLEASE TAKE ACTION AS SOON AS POSSIBLE UNTIL: 25 March 2020
Please check with the Amnesty office in your country if you wish to send appeals after the deadline.
LINK TO PREVIOUS UA: https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/eur25/1683/2020/en/