18 December 2021 – On International Migrants Day, EFFAT celebrates millions of undocumented workers active along the EFFAT sectors and their supply chains, in agriculture, food processing, tourism and domestic work.
As the pandemic continues to unfold, migrant workers, especially undocumented ones are encountering many barriers in accessing the COVID-19 vaccines, which reflects many other and broader obstacles in accessing health care and social protection.
Although in most countries’ governments are making of vaccinations an imperative, the rhetoric often clashes with the reality on the ground experienced by undocumented migrants.
In Italy, for example, the Italian Immigration Act (Testo Unico sull’Immigrazione) explicitly guarantees access to the vaccines as part of preventive public health care campaigns to all people living in Italy, including irregular migrants. Yet, the situation differs a lot region by region with some local authorities requiring documents which are unavailable to most undocumented migrants.
In Greece as in many other EU countries, access to health services is just as complicated. In the country, tens of thousands of undocumented migrants are deprived of access to health services because they are unable to provide a social security number.
In many other cases, undocumented migrants are indeed vaccinated, ready to positively contribute to their community’s wellbeing and to be active part of the working labour pool. However they’re often, unable to receive a vaccine pass, being severely penalized when it comes to the enjoyment of their freedom.
In the vast majority of countries in Europe undocumented migrant workers cannot report any violation of their rights without risking deportation. The same applies with their vaccination or health status. Access to public health and vaccines should always be a universal human right and not an obstacle to enjoy a decent life or a reason for fear.
We consider that the right to equal healthcare for all must prevail over migration policies. That’s why EFFAT demands are clear.
- Access to vaccination should be simplified and granted to everyone beyond their residence permit
- Vaccine test and the vaccine pass should not be linked to any document.
- Access to health care in case of contamination should be confidential, without risk of denunciation.
Finally, EFFAT defends the principle that a worker is a worker, independently from his migration status or ethnic background. All undocumented migrant workers should be able to easily access justice and report the violation of their rights without risking retaliation and deportation. Granting them the right to be healthy should be a priority action to ensure social justice and safeguard public health.