UN Experts Alarmed by Migrants’ Hunger Strike in Brussels

BRUSSELS  — Two United Nations representatives urged Belgian authorities Monday to offer temporary residence permits to several hundred migrants who are on a hunger strike in Brussels, some of whom with failing health.

The migrants desperate to obtain legal residency papers began their hunger strike on May 23 at two universities and a church in the Belgian capital. Some said they have been living and working in the European nation of 11.5 million for a decade.

In recent days, some of the migrants have also started refusing water.

U.N. Special Rapporteurs Olivier De Schutter and Felipe Gonzalez wrote an open letter to Belgian Secretary of State for Asylum and Migration Sammy Mahdi asking for urgent measures.

“The information we have received is alarming, and several of the hunger strikers are between life and death," said De Schutter, the U.N.'s special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights.

Gonzalez, the U,N.'s special rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, said the Belgian government should clearly rule out the possibility of deporting the migrants, given the state of their health.

The government also “should consider issuing temporary residence permits allowing any person who introduces a request for stay regularization the right to exercise an economic activity," Gonzalez said.

In his response to the letter, Mahdi said a collective solution should not be proposed and said he had suggested to the hunger strikers that they file individual residency requests.

According to the rapporteurs, some 150,000 migrants live in Belgium without authorization. They said that people wanting to have their status legalized are deterred from doing so because they fear they will be deported if they apply.

The hunger strike has ignited tensions in the coalition government led by Prime Minister Alexander De Croo. Last week, the Socialists and Greens called on the liberal De Croo to intervene in a bid to avoid “an imminent drama."

According to Belgian media, Minister of Economy and Labour Pierre-Yves Dermagne went a step further on Monday, threatening that all socialist members of the government will resign if one of the migrants taking part in the strike dies.


ATHENS – Greece's capital was still struggling to dig out from a snowstorm three days after it happened, with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis apologizing for drivers stranded all night on a major highway and many streets still buried.

Top Stories


ATHENS – A major snow storm that had been predicted for days still caught residents in Greece offguard and the New Democracy government scrambling for answers as to why motorists were stuck for hours on major roads.


US Congress represenatives Gus Bilirakis of Florida and Nicole Malliotakis of New York – both Republicans – assailed President Joe Biden's administration for no longer supporting the EastMed pipeline project by Greece, Cyprus and Israel.


WASHINGTON HEIGHTS, NY – In the presence of distinguished guests, the vasilopita was cut by the Federation of Greek American Educators in the community hall at St Spyridon Greek Orthodox Church in Washington Heights on January 23.


Democrats Eye Supreme Court Pick to Revive 2022 Prospects

Democrats stung by a series of election year failures to deliver legislative wins for their most loyal voters hope they'll be buoyed by the prospect that President Joe Biden will name the first Black woman to serve on the Supreme Court.

Enter your email address to subscribe

Provide your email address to subscribe. For e.g. abc@xyz.com

You may unsubscribe at any time using the link in our newsletter.