Undocumented migrants must not be deprived of their right to social and health service
The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health is currently preparing to end the right of undocumented migrants to non-emergency social welfare and health services. This is based on a section in the government programme in which the government states that it will reverse the previous government’s decision to extend social welfare services for undocumented people. This change will lead to desperate situations and, at worst, boost the existing shadow society.
The Deaconess Foundation is extremely concerned about the government’s plan. If carried through, it will lead to even poorer health conditions for undocumented people and, at worst, an increase in chronic illnesses.
“Undocumented people are an extremely diverse group. They include families, children, men who have come to the country alone, self-employed people, elderly people and victims of trafficking. It is unambiguously cruel and short-sighted to deny them the right to decent social welfare services,” says Anne Hammad, Director of Services for Undocumented People at the Deaconess Foundation.
The weakening of social services, which are already almost negligible, will also, if implemented, create bigger problems in our society as people struggle to earn a living and validate their lives. It will ultimately cost society more, as it is cheaper to provide treatment as early as possible, before symptoms worsen and more complex medical treatment is needed. It is also worth recognising that reducing services for undocumented migrants will not lead to more people leaving the country but the opposite.
Even before the arrival of refugees in 2015 and 2016, a shadow society had emerged in Finland, which the current measures will actually increase.
“We do not think that those who are currently undocumented in our country will leave with the planned measures, but instead they will be driven into an even weaker and more vulnerable position on the illegal jobs market and thus exploited. From here, the process will continue, in the worst case, into human trafficking. Unfortunately, we often see these trends when we work with undocumented migrants,” says Hammad.
We hope that the government will reconsider this decision and safeguard the right to social services for the most vulnerable. This is a marginal group of people and the cost of their services is non-existent. Health is a human right, and we hope that the government will continue to safeguard it.
Anne Hammad, Director of Service Unit, firstname.lastname@example.org, 050 502 0022
Miinukka Tuominen-Hakoila, Head of Advocacy, email@example.com, 040 705 8256