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Friday, 19. July 2024

National meeting of refugee health activists in Düsseldorf, Germany


Undocumented migrants ("sans papiers"/"Papierlose") do not have the possibility to access health care in Germany and are thus funamentally denied their basic right to health. The German IPPNW affiliate and several local IPPNW groups have worked hard on changing the perception of "Papierlose" amongst politicians, the media, medical personal and the general public, have initiated public debate, called for changes in immigration policy and have started local initiatives to tend to the needs of the affected people .

All over Germany, there are now more than 30 such local initiatives, several of which have directly been founded by IPPNW groups (see www.medibueros.org/standorte.html for a complete list). They are staffed by volunteer medical students and doctors and offer low-threshold access to health-care and refer "sans papiers" patients to associated private practices and clinics that have agreed to treat them without insurance. While these local initiatives have been somewhat successful in improving the medical care for the people who make use of their services, their ultimate goal is to make themselves unnecessary by bringing about political change that would enable people to access health care regardless of their legal status.

In Düsseldorf, our local IPPNW group founded the "Refugee Initiative STAY!" four years ago and has successfully referred several hundred of Papierlose patients, many of which pregnant women and children. (see www.stay-duesseldorf.de for further information about our work)

In order to exchange experience, learn from each other, debate current developments and formulate common political demands, these initiatives meet up once a year. This year, our local IPPNW group in Düsseldorf hosted the national conference last week. For us, hosting this national conference with more than 100 delegates from 26 different cities all over Germany was the biggest event we ever organized here and we are happy to report that it was a very successful weekend. Against the somewhat rustic backdrop of the Düsseldorf Boxing Center, the participants listened to a keynote address of Kenan Emini, a representative of one of Germany's largest Roma assciations, about the political ad health situation of Sinti and Roma in Germany, discussed the treatment options of pregnant sans papiers women, the difficulties of handing psychiatric patients without health insurance and learned about the deportation practices of the German authorities from local activists protesting deportation flights form Düsseldorf airport. They also discussed means of national cooperation and agreed to use our local Düsseldorf campaign "No pregnancy is illegal" to start a common national campaign aimed at improving the situation of pregnant sans papiers.