Hunger strike mediation slammed as ‘waste of time’

Hunger strikers at the Beguinage Church in Brussels and at the Free Universities VUB and ULB are disappointed after Monday’s mediation effort by Dirk Van den Bulck, the commissioner general for refugees and stateless persons.  Mr Van den Bulck was dispatched to see the hunger strikers, who as undocumented people are seeking a collective regularisation of their status, by asylum secretary Mahdi but Doctors of the World, a medical organisation that is supporting the hunger strikers, says he did not introduce any new elements.

Over 400 undocumented people have been on hunger strike since 23 May.  “Wasn’t this a missed opportunity and hasn’t it made matters worse” asked Michel Genet of Doctors of the World. “Apparently the whole dossier is blocked at government level too.”

A number of hunger strikers, who are very poorly did agree to hospitalisation. 

“We’re talking about 4 people from the Beguinage Church and 4 from the ULB” says Genet. “On Sunday nobody got into the ambulances sent by the government.  Now a number of people agreed to hospitalisation.  That’s positive.”

A representative of the Association of Undocumented People for Regularisation, the USPR, says the commissioner general explained that he didn’t really have any power in this matter.  He repeated the legal route to getting a residence permit.  In a particularly dangerous situation this more or less amounted to a waste of time.”

The USPR has put a proposal to the immigration department and the government that it describes as ‘perfectly reasonable’ but is still waiting for a response.

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