Migrants accept ministry’s offer, end long hunger strike

Almost 300 immigrants who have been on hunger strike for more than 40 days in Athens and Thessaloniki ended their protest on Wednesday afternoon after accepting the final offer made by the government.

The immigrants, mostly from North African countries, had been demanding that their residence permits be renewed so they could remain in Greece but after six weeks of protest accepted a deal that falls slightly short of that.

The offer made by the Interior Ministry reportedly gives the migrants a six-month grace period to remain in the country but, crucially, allows this dispensation to be renewed every six months.

It also allows them to continue working in Greece during this period or to return to their homelands on humanitarian grounds without fear of being barred from reentering the country.

The government also reportedly agreed to change the law that demands migrants have to live in Greece for at least 12 years before they can be given legal status in exceptional circumstances. Under the proposals accepted by the immigrants, this period will be reduced to eight years.

There were 237 immigrants protesting in Athens and 50 in Thessaloniki. More than 100 protestors have been taken to the hospital since the hunger strike began in January.

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