Eighty asylum-seekers in Brussels are nearing death after going for eighty days without food. The hunger strikers are protesting the government’s refusal to grand them resident permits in the country. The asylum-seekers come from a variety of places – Nepal, the Ivory Coast, Congo, Iran, Algeria, Guinea, and Brazil, and whose applications have either been rejected, or remain pending. 70 immigrants on hunger strikes agreed to abandon their dangerous measures pending a deal from the Alien Registration Office. The deal would allow the individuals to recuperate from the ordeal with a 90-day visa. However, clear guidelines have not been set, prompting many refugee and religious organizations to pressure the government to come up with a program concerning allowing illegal aliens to reside in the country.
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Some 2,122 requests for asylum were approved in Belgium in 2007 – an increase from the previous year. Despite this, there were fewer requests for asylum between 2007 and 2006. Most asylum seekers in Belgium are from Chechnya, Rwanda, Iraq, Kosovo, and Congo.
France wants to clinch agreements on curbing immigration with some 20 African countries by the end of 2009, Immigration Minister Brice Hortefeux said Wednesday. An agreement is currently under negotation with Congo Republic and “in the coming months I will begin discussions with other countries,” Hortefeux told a conference of French ambassadors in Paris. “We expect there to be some 20 countries involved by the end of 2009,” he added. France has signed immigration accords with Senegal and Gabon that provide for French assistance to help the countries monitor their borders in exchange for their cooperation in repatriating illegal migrants.