Evacuated asylum seekers leave hospital
5 May 2006
BRUSSELS — The asylum seekers who were hospitalised after police raided a Brussels home this week based on fears for their well-being were discharged from hospital on Thursday.
In the meantime, criticism against the federal government’s asylum policy continues to grow as illegal immigrants maintain church sit-in protests and hunger strikes across the country.
Police evacuated 20 asylum seekers from a Saint-Gilles house on Wednesday night and Thursday morning and had them taken to various Brussels hospitals.
The asylum seekers were said to be infected with the dangerous illness TB. The house where they were staying in was evacuated and was to remain sealed off until disinfected.
Most of the asylum seekers have since left hospital, but it remains unclear where they are now staying.
“The asylum seekers were not infected with TB. The first tests were negative,” Brussels social security office OCMW chairman Yvan Mayeur said.
But the Saint-Gilles commune remains adamant the police action was necessary.
“It is in the interest of the hunger strikers that we take them to hospital,” Mayor Martine Wille said.
The illegal immigrants have been staging a hunger strike since 7 April. They’d also stopped drinking on Wednesday. The health of some of them is now said to be critical.
Other hunger strikers in Saint-Gilles also stopped drinking last week, but started drinking again after the immigration service promised on Saturday to re-examine their requests for residency.
Meanwhile, the Bishop of Namen, André Léonard, is still supporting the series of protests being staged across the nation. Illegal immigrants are now also staying in his residence.
He rejected criticism from Interior Minister Patrick Dewael and urged the government to “slightly” amend its laws to meet the demands of protestors.
Meanwhile, 50 left-wing lawyers have written a letter to Dewael claiming that an arbitrary system is in force regarding the regularisation of illegal immigrants. The lawyers urged the government to draw up clearer guidelines.
[Copyright Expatica News 2006]
Subject: Belgian news