Last Updated: Thursday, 26 November 2015, 08:53 GMT

Greece: Whether citizenship is required to receive social benefits such as medical care; status requirements for receiving medical care without charge (2003-July 2005)

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Ottawa
Publication Date 5 August 2005
Citation / Document Symbol GRC100432.E
Reference 2
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Greece: Whether citizenship is required to receive social benefits such as medical care; status requirements for receiving medical care without charge (2003-July 2005), 5 August 2005, GRC100432.E, available at: [accessed 27 November 2015]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

According to a 2003 report on legal and social conditions for asylum seekers and refugees in Greece published by the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE):

Asylum seekers are entitled to free medical care and hospital treatment in accordance with Presidential Decree No. 266/1999. This is also provided for under Section 24(2)(c) of the former Aliens Act, as modified in December 1996, according to which all asylum seekers, refugees and those granted humanitarian status have access to state hospitals for free hospitalisation, medical examinations and provision of medication.

If some specific medicines are not available from the state hospitals, efforts to find them are made by the Médecins du Monde and Médecins sans Frontières.

The same report mentioned that asylum seekers could reportedly access language courses, education for their children, temporary work permits and accommodation (ECRE 2003). However, the ECRE report also noted that reception centres for asylum seekers have "reported increased difficulty in coping with growing numbers" of such individuals, "resulting in many asylum seekers in the larger cities finding themselves homeless for long periods of time throughout the determination procedure" (ibid.). In addition, the ECRE stated that the government of Greece does not provide financial assistance to asylum seekers (ibid.).

As well, numerous human rights reports covering 2003 and 2004 expressed concern over the treatment of migrants by Greek authorities, particularly with respect to the limited number of asylum-seekers granted international protection annually (IHF 2005; AI 2005; UNHCR Nov. 2004; USCRI 2004; Country Reports 2004 28 Feb. 2005, Sec. 2d). For example, according to the 2004 World Refugee Survey published by the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI), of an estimated 5,200 asylum claims filed in 2003, "just over 30 persons were granted asylum."

Furthermore, in November 2004, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that

[a]ccess to the asylum procedure remains a matter of concern for persons seeking to register as asylum-seekers with the competent authorities in the greater Attica region. Frequently, registration of claims is postponed repeatedly or appointments for an interview are given for very distant dates, in some cases exceeding six months. As a consequence, documents regularizing persons as asylum-seekers cannot be issued, and they experience difficulties inter alia in accessing medical treatment.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Amnesty International (AI). 2005. "Greece." Amnesty International Report 2005. [Accessed 29 July 2005]

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2004. 28 February 2005. United States Department of State. Washington, DC. [Accessed 26 July 2005]

European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE). 2003. "Greece." European Asylum Systems: Legal and Social Conditions for Asylum Seekers and Refugees in Western Europe. [Accessed 27 July 2005]

International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (IHF). 2005. "Greece." Human Rights in the OSCE Region: Europe,Central Asia and North America, Report 2005. [Accessed 26 July 2005]

United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). November 2004. "UNHCR Position on Important Aspects of Refugee Protection in Greece." [Accessed 27 July 2005]

U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI). 2004. "Greece." World Refugee Survey 2004. [Accessed 26 July 2005]

Additional Sources Consulted

Internet sites, including: Council of Europe, European Commission, Human Rights Watch, World News Connection.

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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