Africans in French hunger strike
Limoges town hall gave the African illegals a place to stay
BBC News, August 28, 2006
Over 40 Algerians and Guineans have started a fourth week on hunger strike in central France in an attempt to get temporary residence rights.
The group of 44 – three of them women – want 12-month residence permits. They are occupying a former police station in the city of Limoges.
In June the French parliament adopted a new law tightening the entry rules for immigrants' dependents.
Some immigrant families with school-age children are to get residence permits.
The authorities are examining applications from thousands of illegal immigrants as part of the plan to regularise the status of about 800 sans-papiers (without papers) families.
The condition is that the families must have children who were born and brought up in France.
But the new immigration law makes it harder for unskilled migrants to settle in France.
A spokesman for the hunger strikers in Limoges, Houssni el-Rherabi, complained of “always having to hide for fear of checks which would lead to detention”.
“We don't work, we flee the boss, the bailiffs. We go to charities for our food, especially food for our children. It's better to die in dignity, for dignity's sake,” he told the French news agency AFP.
The French Interior Minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, introduced the new law in a drive to curb illegal immigration and promote selective immigration based on skills – a system similar to the Australian or US models.
The French government believes up to 400,000 people are now living in France illegally.