Belgium hunger strike migrants get case by case review for documentation

Brussels, Jul 22 (EFE).- A “neutral zone” has been abilitated by the Belgian government to individually review claims to residence permits by about 400 undocumented migrants, after reaching a tentative deal Wednesday that ended a month-long hunger strike.

The migrants, who had camped inside the Saint John the Baptist Church in Brussels, decided to suspend the hunger strike after the government offered to evaluate long-term residency, integration and family reunification for the migrants in Belgium, according to a spokesperson for the strikers, Ahmed.

The purpose of the “neutral zone,” located near the church, will be to identify the strikers, inform them on their particular situations and verify whether they had already registered with the Government Immigration Office.

“The problem is that we don’t know who is in there,” said Geert Verbauwhede, director of the Immigration Office.

The objective will be to review the file of each demonstrator, consider their options to obtain a permit, and, if applicable, prioritize their applications.

An indiscriminate residence permit to all the strikers, as initially demanded by the migrants, will not be granted, and protesters are not guaranteed legal status after registration at the neutral zone.

Several strikers have been transferred to various hospitals across Brussels, according to their spokesperson.

Those in grave conditions will opt for a temporary residence permit for humanitarian reasons to recover in Belgium, after which they will have the option to apply for documentation if they fulfill the necessary conditions. EFE


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