NEWS

Ministry wants all hunger strikers hospitalized

As dozens of undocumented migrants entered the sixth week of a hunger strike in a bid to win legal status in Greece, the Health Ministry called on Sunday for the immediate transfer of all protesters to state hospitals, noting that the risk to their lives was now imminent.

?The risk of the migrants suffering health problems has now become a risk to their lives,? the ministry said in a written statement, adding that ?tolerance and understanding had been pushed to the limits.?

Regional health inspector Aris Mousionis said that the migrants have refused to be taken to hospital despite a concensus by all state doctors who have inspected them that they faced the risk of irreversible health problems and possibly death.

In its statement, the ministry called for the transfer to the hospital of dozens of undocumented migrants who have been staying at a neoclassical building close to central Athens since their eviction from the Athens Law School at the end of January. Some 140 migrants remain at Villa Ipatia following the transfer of at least 100 protesters to hospital in recent days with organ failure and other serious health problems.

In Thessaloniki, another 50 migrants are staging a parallel hunger strike with the same demands. Many of the migrants in Thessaloniki too have been hospitalized.

Speaking on state television channel Net on Saturday, Deputy Prime Minister Theodoros Pangalos suggested again that leftist political activists were encouraging the migrants? protest, noting that ?people of known political persuasion want someone dead.?

Pangalos stressed that the hunger strikers? ongoing action would not change the government?s policy opposite undocumented immigrants. ?There is no way that we can give in to such blackmail,? he said, noting that the migrants? action was being ?politically manipulated.?