NGO’s Want Greece to Return Health Coverage to Refugees, Migrants

File- Migrants warm themselves outside the Moria refugee camp on the northeastern Aegean island of Lesbos, Greece, on Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. (AP Photo/Aggelos Barai)

ATHENS – With many Greeks not being able to have health care coverage, 17 humanitarian organizations sent a a joint letter to Migration and Asylum Minister Notis Mitarakis urging the government to provide access to thousands of refugees, migrants and their families to public health facilities.

They warned against the government’s recent decision to stop granting social security numbers (AMKA) to newly arriving migrants, said the state-run Athens-Macedonia News Agency (ANA-MPA.)

The ruling New Democracy’s plan aims to speed asylum applications, sort out those ineligible and speed returns to Turkey where refugees and migrants who had gone there fleeing their homelands were being sent to Greece, largely to islands, by human traffickers.

The activists pushed Mitarakis to restore the measure or provide temporary insurance and a health care number for the uncovered refugees and migrants and also supported the government for trying to get more aid from the European Union which closed its borders to the newcomers and reneged on promises to spread the overload around other countries.

The letter was signed by ActionAid, Arsis, Doctors of the World, the Danish Refugee Council, The Network for Children’s Rights, The Center for Research on Women’s Issues “Diotima,” the Greek Council for Refugees, Elix, Hellenic League for Human Rights, the International Rescue Committee, HIAS Greece, HumanRights360, Bee Network, Praksis, Refugee Support Aegean, Solidarity Now, and Terre Des Hommes Hellas.

Greece has some 100,000 refugees and migrants in detention centers and camps, about half on islands where there’s been frequent violence between ethnic groups and with riot police called in to quell trouble. The government also wants Turkey to take back 20,000 although only about 2000 have been returned under an essentially-suspended 2016 swap deal with the EU that’s not working.


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