Under Germany's two-tier healthcare system, asylum seekers have limited access to treatment | Photo: DW
Under Germany's two-tier healthcare system, asylum seekers have limited access to treatment | Photo: DW

According to a German lawyer, migrants with disability are not receiving adequate care in Germany. She said the government should abolish the Asylum Seekers Benefits Act, which denies asylum seekers access to non-acute medical treatment.

In an interview with the German press agency epd, lawyer Barbara Weiser criticized the system for failing to offer adequate services for migrants with disability.

"The problems start in the reception centers," said Weiser, who works with the charity Caritas. Staff in the centers are able to recognize physical disabilities, but not cognitive and psychological problems, she said.

Staff also need to have knowledge of disabled migrants' legal rights, she added.

'Asylum seekers with disabilities in need of protection'

The European Union's "Reception Conditions Directive" states that migrants with disability have a special right to medical care and psychological support.

"However, the regulations have not been fully enacted in German law," according to Weiser. She said the law should be changed to give everyone the same right to free universal healthcare.

Also read: Support for disabled refugees in Germany

In Germany, asylum seekers for the first 18 months do not have the same entitlement to health care as the rest of the population. Under the Asylum Seeker Benefits Act, they are only entitled to receive care for acute conditions during this period. 

There are some exceptions, however, such as pre- and post-natal care, both of which are provided. Yet to receive care for most non-acute conditions, asylum seekers are required to apply to the authorities. 

According to Weiser, it can take a long time for a request to be approved. In urgent cases, migrants should submit an application to a court, so that a decision will be made quickly, she added. 

She further said the problem arose once again that only some counseling centers for asylum seekers with disabilities had the necessary specialist knowledge.

Improving support level for disability

To help improve the level of support for migrants with disability, Weiser said migrant reception centers should develop health assessment procedures so that assistance can be offered to migrants as early as possible.

"In addition, the structures of disability support must be opened up in such a way that they can also be utilized by refugees with disability," she said.

Also read: Thousands of traumatized migrants in Germany are denied help

With epd

 

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