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Health care: (Not) a human right ?!

Today, on the so-called "World Refugee Day", we appeal to the government to guarantee the right to health care for refugees, especially in times of the corona pandemic. Several international human rights agreements are celebrating anniversaries this year: CEDAW, the Geneva Refugee Convention and the Istanbul Convention. But what achievements did they bring to refugee women in particular in the field of health care?

At this moment, when the focus is on protecting people and mutual consideration, we refugees, who are particularly in need of protection, must not leave behind walls. These entry barriers hit women with a history of refugees particularly hard. Restricting residence and asylum laws prevent refugee women (and others) from accessing the health system and thus from extensive health care.

The health insurance certificate system is still a major barrier here. In concrete terms, this means that administrative employees of a responsible social welfare office issue a health insurance certificate with which asylum seekers can visit a doctor. Decisions about necessary treatment are therefore made based on the subjective assessment of a single person in the administration. The employees also have no medical training and make decisions based on benevolence and therefore arbitrarily.

"Access to health care is a human right: it must not depend on gender or residence status!", says Dr. Delal Atmaca, Managing Director of DaMigra eV

Above all, the reproductive and sexual rights of people with a refugee history are not fully guaranteed due to a lack of health care. There is a lack of necessary care and protective measures, such as holistic care for pregnant and breastfeeding women regardless of residence status.

It is clear that this is a violation of the human right to holistic health care. The state and its institutions must ensure that this human right is implemented for the benefit of all. We as a society have to show solidarity and speak out about such human rights violations. On International Refugee Day, DaMigra therefore calls for the removal of all access barriers for refugees to health care for everyone - regardless of their right of residence!


About the conventions

CEDAW is considered the most important human rights instrument for girls and women under international law. It prohibits discrimination based on gender and gender identity in all areas of life. It calls on the contracting states to achieve legal and factual equality between the sexes.1 DaMigra, together with other associations and institutions, forms the CEDAW alliance Germany. In this political, civil and open network, we support the implementation of CEDAW within Germany.

The GFK in turn is the most important international document for the protection of refugees. The convention clearly defines who a refugee is, what legal protection, what help and what social rights he or she should receive from the signatory states.2

Article of the CEDAW calls for the elimination of gender discrimination in health care. This requires gender-sensitive and inclusive health research, information and care. DaMigra, as a member of the CEDAW Alliance, states, however, that neither the federal nor the state governments have developed a consistent gender-sensitive and equality-oriented system to combat sex and gender bias in health care.

Article of the GFK is dedicated to public welfare, Article including social security. They claim "the same treatment as their own nationals in the field of welfare and other assistance as their own nationals" also with regard to motherhood.

2 The Geneva Refugee Convention - UNHCR Germany

Download press release here.

DaMigra eV represents the interests of migrant women * self-organizations and their concerns and advocates equal opportunities, equal participation and the equality of women * with a migration history and refugee experience in Germany. DaMigra follows the approach of anti-racist feminism.


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