A non-governmental organization (NGO) in Greece, METAdrasi, has called on the government to make is easier for undocumented migrants and asylum seekers to get a Covid-19 vaccine, calling the current system problematic.
The NGO said that the biggest problems being faced by migrants is in the issuance of the temporary AMKA -- the social security ID which is required to book a vaccine appointment on Greece's vaccination platform.
METAdrasi inaugurated a helpdesk in August with the aim of assisting refugees and migrants living outside camps -- mostly in cities but also in the provinces -- to complete the process of vaccination against Covid-19.
Since its launch, the NGO says it has received around 700 applications for assistance from foreign nationals wanting to get vaccinated. Numerous applicants reportedly complained they were turned away from pharmacies and Citizens' Advice Bureaus (KEP).
Overall, in 60% of its successful vaccination applications, METAdrasi stated that they had to send a member or volunteer with the applicant to ensure that a temporary AMKA was issued.
Blocked from booking system
The organization also claimed that dozens of registered asylum seekers and recognized refugees are being blocked out of the electronic booking system despite having the necessary paperwork.
"Amongst other problems, another serious issue the helpdesk has had to deal with in the past month is that asylum seekers and recognized refugees who already possess an operational AMKA or PAAYPA number and try to book an appointment, are not recognized by the electronic system -- for unknown reasons -- as being eligible for vaccination in the current period," the statement added.
While METAdrasi says that civil society organizations are being acknowledged for their important role in supporting the vaccination process of migrants and refugees in the country, the NGO still points out that the problem of people living in the country without any identification documents has not been solved.
Long delays for documents
"Another cause of anxiety is the creation of long delays until the new institutions authorized to issue AMKA become operational. They will need to be discovered, educated, authorized, given the necessary identification codes and connected to the system. How much time will it take before they can start issuing the desired AMKA numbers?," the organization added.
"Unfortunately, those who reside in the country without any identification document -- an unknown number -- remain unvaccinated despite their will, while the state is responsible for their personal protection which is closely related to the support of the public health system which is under great pressure."
"METAdrasi will continue operating the helpdesk and is committed to supporting every positive effort towards the simplification of the vaccination process for all refugees and migrants residing in the country," the NGO said.