On November 24th 2011, aditus was invited to attend a working group organised by PICUM (the Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants) in Brussels, Belgium, entitled PICUM working group on Access to Healthcare for Undocumented Migrants. aditus volunteer Claude Mizzi represented the organisation. Participants ranged from a number of NGOs from various countries, including Spain, Lithuania, Sweden and Italy, for a total of 14 countries represented. Together with aditus Malta was represented by the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS).
The working group saw a number of presentations made by various participants, followed by observations and feedback from the group. On behalf of aditus and supported by JRS, Claude pointed out the issue of undocumented migrants is not amongst the organisations’ major concerns for Malta, also since healthcare facilities are largely free and open to all persons, at least at the emergency and primary levels. It was however clarified that the healthcare facilities were not sufficient to ensure the good health of migrants, due to a number of factors, primarily the state of migrant accommodation facilities (closed and open). Whilst the working group was very pleased to hear that access to healthcare for migrants is, at least in theory, to be provided, it expressed great concern at the migrants’ living conditions.
Claude further highlighted the key role played by public perception as one of the key contributors to the discriminatory treatment faced by migrants on a daily basis. Incidents of discrimination are reported across most levels of service-provision including employment, housing and limited or unclear access to social support services.
In terms of necessary activities to be implemented at the local level, aditus emphasised the need to advocate with all relevant stakeholders, including governmental agencies, and to raise issues with regional and international bodies, as for the example the European Union institutions and the United Nations.
aditus would like to thank PICUM for what was a successful and informative working group, and looks forward to further contributing to PICUM’s activities.