About half a thousand migrants are on hunger strike in Brussels, drawing the attention of the authorities to their problems and in order to avoid deportation.
Illegal migrants went to extreme measures trying to officially stay in the country. Many of them live here for many years, remaining in the shadows and surviving without the slightest support from the authorities. About 250 undocumented individuals have found refuge in a church in the center of the Belgian capital, and another 200 elsewhere throughout the city. All hungry people want to get a residence permit and the right to work, however, fearing deportation in case of individual appeal, they demand to legalize them collectively. One of them, Ahmed, tells reporters:
“I sometimes wonder how the authorities can sleep peacefully when there are so many people in Belgium starving and dying of suffering. Officials see this agony, but at night they sleep with a clear conscience. “
Most of the starving men came from Pakistan and North Africa – Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria. According to experts, there are about 150 thousand of them in the country. Many have lived in Belgium for several years and decades – without benefits, health care or any other support. In an effort to draw attention to an urgent problem, the migrants refused to eat since 23 May. Volunteers help them. Medical Volunteer Cecile Vanhoeuerzwein says:
“The situation is almost disastrous. Some of our patients are getting worse and worse. We have seen problems with the heart, kidneys, psyche, as well as several suicide attempts. “
Belgian media are reluctant to discuss this topic. However, the situation is getting worse every day due to the deteriorating health of the protesters. The public is increasingly addressing the authorities with a demand to take action and help the starving, and not only illegal immigrants. However, the government is not ready to make concessions. Federal Minister of Immigration Sammi Mahdi, the son of the same illegal immigrant from Iraq, who at one time came to Belgium to work, calls what is happening blackmail and says:
“It’s getting insulting. We try to help these people as much as possible so that their files are processed as quickly as possible. But, of course, not every undocumented person who is here can stay in Belgium. We try to give them the right information, but a hunger strike will not help. “
According to the Belgian government, this action clearly shows how important and necessary it is to improve the coordination of EU actions in relation to asylum seekers, and to distribute them across all member states.