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‘Neutral zone’ now also closed for hunger strikers

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The ‘neutral zone’ established as a compromise to the hunger strikers in Brussels has now been closed, asylum minister Sammy Mahdi (CD&V) has confirmed.

The zone was created about a week ago to allow the hunger strikers – all undocumented migrants seeking regularisation in order to be able to live and work legally – to pursue their requests.

The creation of the zone was one of the major issues that brought an end to the hunger strike involving migrants on the campuses of the two Brussels universities VUB and ULB as well as the central Beguinage church.

The creation of the neutral zone, however, led to an influx of migrants from all over, all looking for the same attention to their cases as the hunger strikers had been granted.

At first they were accepted, but then the queues became longer as word got out, and finally the zone had to be closed to all but the hunger strikers.

That led to accusations that Mahdi, who all along had argued there were no special provisions allowed for the hunger strikers, had gone back on his word. A separate office for them, and not for everyone, certainly appeared to be special treatment.

According to the minister’s office, the hunger strikers have all now taken the advice offered by the office installed in the neutral zone, and are now ready to continue their applications for asylum. The office is now closed.

According to Bruzz, the announcement from Mahdi’s office come as a surprise. Not all cases pending have yet been dealt with.