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improving services for undocumented migrants in the EU



Right to health care has been recognized as a fundamental human right by various international instruments ratified by European Countries. In a state control logic, national regulations restrict this right for undocumented migrants.


Practice of service provision has to manage the paradox created by discrepancies between human right and state control demands. NGOs play an important role bridging the gap between policy frameworks and peoples needs.


Health of undocumented migrants is highly at risk due to difficult living and working conditions often characterised by uncertainty, exploitation and dependency. But access to health care services is difficult and dangerous.

NowHereland as a European reality

Estimated 1-4% of the overall population in Europe are undocumented migrants (UDM), living in a NowHereland, where they face extremely precarious and health threatening living conditions. NowHereland is a paradox country: inhabitants are officially not visible, but part of social reality and health care providers have to deal with them in the area of conflict between the basic human right for health care, state control logic and the simple wish to help.

Health care organisations and professionals find themselves in a paradox situation: if they give care, they may act against legal and financial regulations, if they don’t give care they violate human rights and exclude the most vulnerable. Also, the status of UDM leads to a paradox situation for people as access to health care may threat their existence - they might get visible to the system and be imprisoned and deported.

The paradox cannot be solved on practice level, but has to be managed somehow by different players and organisations. NGOs play an important role in taking over the management of health care provision by providing resources and bridging the gap between policy frameworks and peoples needs.

New: The project findings in book form
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New: Executive summary and recommendations available
On the basis of an overview on evidence collected and research experience, recommendations are formulated that address the policy frameworks and the practice level of health care provision itself as well as further research.
Executive summary and recommendations
New: Fact sheet policies available
The fact sheet shows a clustering of EU countries that has been done according to the legal regulations governing UDMs´ access to health care on a national level, from a human rights approach, and from a public health perspective.
NHC Fact sheet policies
New: Fact sheet practices available
The fact sheet gives an overview on contxtual elements for practices of health care provisison for UDM, shows selected results from a comparative analysis of 71 practice models, and gives information on the in-depth assessments of four practice models.
NHC Fact sheet practices
New: Fact sheet people available
The fact sheet gives an overview on UDMs´ health needs and strategies to access health care, based on over 80 interviews with people working for nongovermental or local organisations that provide health care for UDM or facilitate their access to the health care system.
NHC Fact sheet people
October 2010
Policy Matrix
A policy matrix that provides an overview of policy indicators which describe country-specific healthcare entitlements for UDM as well as related contextual information for the EU 27 countries, Norway and Switzerland is available now.
NHC Policy matrix
August 2010
People country reports
Country reports on undocumented migrants’ health needs and strategies to access health care in selected 17 EU countries are available now.
NHC People country reports
June 2010
NHC Database: Search function now activated
A new database with information on health services available for undocumented migrants collected in the framework of the NowHereland project is now available. Services not included in the database by now are still invited to fill in the database template!
Database search
May 2010
Model assessment
The assessment of models of good practices of health care for undocumented migrants has started. In May and June site visits will be conducted in Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain. In the framework of the Swiss project site visits will be conducted in Bern, Geneva and Zurich.
April 2010
Policy country reports
A compilation of country reports on policies on health care for undocumented migrants in the EU 27 and Switzerland is available now.
NHC Policy country reports
July 2009
Background Paper and Policy Brief
Background paper and policy brief on “Health Care for Undocumented Migrants in the EU: Concepts and Cases” in the framework of the IOM-managed project „Assisting Migrants and Communities (AMAC): Social Determinants of Health and Health Inequalities“
April 2009
Picture taken in Rome
February 2009
Database on irregular migration
A database on irregular migration, that provides an inventory and a critical appraisal of data and estimates in the European Union and selected member states, embedded in detailed background information, is one of the main outputs of the project Clandestino. Since February 2009 it is accessible online:


A Project funded by DG Sanco

Austrian Federal Ministry of
Science and Research

Fonds Gesundes Österreich