Greece to grant provisional social security number to asylum seekers

Greece to grant provisional social security number to asylum seekers

Five key ministries on Monday signed a joint decision to grant a provisional social security number to all migrants who have applied for asylum in Greece, providing medical coverage and a right to work while they wait for a decision.

The Provisional Insurance and Health Care Number (PAAYPA) will be issued by the Asylum Service upon a migrant's completion of the application and ensures the asylum seekers' access to health care and the labor market for six months after their application.

If the asylum application is eventually rejected, PAAYPA will be automatically deactivated, whereas if international protection is granted, the temporary number will turn into an AMKA number, the permanent social security number used by all Greek citizens.

According to the migration ministry, the new temporary social insurance number "does not carry AMKA's structural weaknesses (permanence, inability to deactivate), while it makes it possible to administratively identify health care costs and seeks to allocate the relevant EU funds in a documented way."

The decision was reached by the Ministries of Migration, Education, Health, State and Labor and Social Affairs.

The government last year stopped AMKA numbers to newly arriving asylum seekers, arguing the prectice had overwhelmed the relevant services by the sheer volume of applicants. 

The decision was criticized by rights groups.

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