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Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Belgium Announces Efforts to Overcome Migrants’ Hunger Strikes

The Belgian government on Wednesday announced efforts that it hopes will end the hunger strike of hundreds of migrants who are collectively trying to find legal residency. Prime Minister Alexander De Croo’s party leader, the Liberals, said under the agreement the parties concerned would review their cases individually in the neutral zone.

After attending the National Day ceremony in Brussels, Migration Minister Sammy Mahdi said he was relieved by the effort. The most important thing, he said, is public health. “And that’s what concerns him.”

Mahdi said each of the migrants who went on hunger strike needed to submit a housing request. He seems to stick to the position that it is impossible to provide collective shelter for all migrants who strike.

The migrants began a hunger strike on May 23 at one church and two universities in Brussels. Some are in the Church of St. Yohanes said they ended their campaign after receiving unspecified guarantees from the government. It is unclear whether those at the two universities will follow suit.

In recent days, some migrants have started refusing to drink and eat, increasing fears that they will die. UN officials say some 150,000 migrants live without permits in Belgium, a country of 11.5 million.[ka/jm]

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