The life of undocumented migrants is very difficult as they have to remain invisible in society/Photo: AfricanCourierMedia

Germany: Petition against obligation to report people without papers launched

An alliance of humanitarian and rights organisations are calling for the abrogation of the legal obligation to report people without residency status who seek medical care

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Almost 50 organisations and associations are demanding the abolition of the legal obligation to report people without regular residence status who seek medical care.

Going to the doctor without fear is not possible in Germany for these people, the organisations, such as Pro Asyl, Arbeiterwohlfahrt, Migrationsrat, Diakonie Deutschland or Jesuiten-Flüchtlingsdienst, criticise the regulation in a joint petition.

Section 87 of the Residency Act (Aufenthaltsgesetz) obliges the Social Welfare Office (Sozialamt) to immediately report persons without a valid residence title to the immigration authorities if they apply for the reimbursement of the costs for their medical services.

Because of this regulation and out of well-founded fears of deportation, people who have been living in the country for years without legal residency papers avoid seeking medical treatment. As a result, Covid-19 infections are not detected, life-threatening diseases remain untreated, pregnant women cannot go for preventive medical check-ups, children do not receive basic medical care, the petitioners say.

“The coronavirus pandemic shows us once again: all people living in Germany must be able to access medical services without fear. However, in fact, this right is denied to hundreds of thousands in Germany. The health care system must therefore be exempted from the obligation to pass on data on people without regular residence status to the immigration authorities,” the petitioners say.

With the petition “GleichBeHandeln” (Treat Equally), the alliance calls on the legislators to amend section 87 of the Residency Act as soon as possible. The campaign is an expression of practical solidarity, explained the director of the Jesuit Refugee Service, Father Claus Pfuff: “Only when every person can exercise their basic rights without fear will our society be worth living in.”

The obligation to report has been criticised for many years. In 2009, educational institutions were exempted from the obligation to report undocumented migrants so that children without regular residence status could go to school without fear. “Now it is important to eliminate the unfortunate rule for the health sector as well,” says the joint statement. The campaign alliance is convinced: “Preventing people from necessary visits to the doctor for reasons of migration policy is unacceptable!”

Femi Awoniyi

To support the petition GleichBeHandeln, click here

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