Immigrants extend hunger strike for papers

29th August 2006, Comments 0 comments

LIMOGES, France, Aug 28, 2006 (AFP) - Forty-four illegal immigrants, mostly from Algeria and Guinea, on Monday entered the fourth week of a hunger strike to demand a one-year French residency permit, a spokesman told AFP.

LIMOGES, France, Aug 28, 2006 (AFP) - Forty-four illegal immigrants, mostly from Algeria and Guinea, on Monday entered the fourth week of a hunger strike to demand a one-year French residency permit, a spokesman told AFP.

The three women and 41 men have been subsisting on water, tea, vitamins and potassium, their mattresses spread out on the floor of a building provided by the city hall in Limoges.

"We want to work and live in dignity," said Sako Mamadou Kalifa, 41, a Guinean father-of-two. Many of the strikers say they are forced to work long hours and underpaid by unscrupulous employers, in farming and construction.

Several thousand people demonstrated in the French capital on Saturday, calling on the government to give official residency papers to all illegal immigrants living in France — estimated at between 200,000 and 400,000.

French authorities are examining some 30,000 applications as part of a plan to give residency papers to illegal immigrant families with school-age children, but many of the hunger strikers have children too young to qualify.

The government has recently toughened its line on immigration and Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy has vowed to step up the pace of illegal immigrant deportations to 25,000 this year.

Parliament approved a new law in June which seeks to encourage more qualified workers to come to France and tightens entrance rules for other foreigners, in particular for immigrants' families.

It also scraps the automatic right to residency papers for illegal immigrants who have been 10 years in the country.

France has Europe's largest immigrant population at 4.9 million people, mostly from Africa and Asia. Immigrants make up 8.1 percent of the population.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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