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41 of the immigrants on hunger strike hospitalized, the rest continue the strike

28 February 2011 / 20:02:17  GRReporter
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Anastasia Balezdrova

The risk of human victims due to the hunger strike of the 300 immigrants in Athens and Thessaloniki is closer than ever, say the doctors examining their health condition. Yesterday 22 of the immigrants who continue to be in the building of Ipatia were taken to hospital and today ambulances took two immigrants within just one hour and another three later.

According to doctor Thanassis Karambelis, most immigrants suffer from severe renal failure. "They are sent to the hospital with this clinical picture. The 19th had a cardiac problem expressed in serious bradycardia. We had three cases of acute renal failure this morning and other immigrants are expected to be affected in the coming hours."

20 immigrants stopped taking water, sugar and salt on Friday. Yesterday another 36 immigrants joined their decision to deprive their bodies the minimum they need to be alive.

Doctors reminded that the lack of water could cause death within a week. "This time could be very long for the sick immigrants after 35 days of hunger strike. I think the situation will get worse by tomorrow and the number of immigrants with severe renal failure will increase. Some of the hospitalized immigrants are feeling better after treatment with antibiotics. I do not know whether this applies to all. The risk for some immigrants to remain disabled or lose their kidneys or even their lives is very high. The humanitarian catastrophe I warned about several days ago is a fact. I sincerely hope, as a physician, that there won’t be any human victims," said Thanassis Karambelis and urged the government to assume its responsibilities and to meet "the just demands of immigrants who are on thirst strike already."

Meanwhile, activists of the initiative for solidarity with the immigrants accused the government for sending police officers to hospitals to require the medical staff give them the names and the number of strikers treated there. The doctors have refused to provide this information referring to the confidentiality of treatment information. According to activists, police officers had threatened doctors with persecution in one of the hospitals.

The representative of the immigrants’ forum in Crete Abdul Haji urged the Prime Minister George Papandreou to intervene in favour of the immigrants’ request. "After 35 days of hunger strike they are angry and all they hear are threats of extradition. Not to mention that actually the days are 70 not 35 under these harsh conditions of cold and damp."

The Deputy Ministers of Labour and Social Security George Koutroumanis and Anna Dallara announced earlier today the reduction in the number of work days required for residence and work permit from 150 to 120. Similarly, the number of work days for health insurance will be reduced from 80 to 50.  

According to G. Koutroumanis, the changes will be included in a bill that will be submitted to Parliament soon. "This bill is the foundation of our policy against illegal employment and not paying social securities," said Deputy Minister A. Dallara. She pointed out that the Ministry was supported by immigrant social organizations and the Greek Ombudsman.in the process of its creation.

"Our efforts are aimed at securing the immigrants who have been working in the country for years and are threatened by marginalization," said A. Dallara and added that the demands of starving immigrants who meet the legal requirements will be satisfied. She said that the rest could still be granted a six-month extension for extradition in order the problem of hunger strike to be solved. "But this is within the competence of the Ministry for Citizens Protection," she said.

The two deputy ministers stressed that the discussion of the new measures of the labour department has started four months ago and they have no connection with the hunger strike of the 300 immigrants in the building of Ipatia and the labour centre in Thessaloniki. "Greece is a hospitable country and respects human rights, but laws must apply," was the opinion of the members of the Greek government.

Tags: SocietyImmigrantsHunger strikeLegalizationMeasuresGovernment
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