Hundreds of undocumented migrants go on hunger strike in Belgium
Belgium hosts more than 150,000 undocumented migrants, some of whom have been living in the country for decades. Around 400 of them went in a hunger strike on May 23. The strikers are contained in crowded conditions of two Brussels universities and a baroque church in the city center. Four of the striking asylum seekers have sewn their lips shut to emphasize the lack of legal recognition and access to work and social services. Medical workers keep these four individuals on saline drips, to ensure the water accesses their bodies. But as more than a moth of striking has passed, more and more of the strikers are feeling weak and are routinely being transported to hospital for emergency care.
The strikers claim that their conditions have worsened during the pandemic, many have lost their jobs during the lockdown. The strikers demand access to work and social services. Kiran Adhikeri, a migrant from Nepal who worked as a chef before the restaurant closed due to the pandemic, said this about their current living conditions: ”We sleep like rats… I am begging them (the Belgian authorities), please give us access to work, like others. I want to pay taxes, I want to raise my kid here, in this modern city.” The Belgian government said it will not negotiate with the hunger strikers over their plea to be granted formal residency.