At least three of a group of illegal migrants that have been on hunger strike for the past 25 days have been taken to hospital, supporters of the migrants' cause reported on Friday. A fourth collapsed of exhaustion and hypothermia during a press conference held at the 'Ypatia' building in central Athens where nearly 250 migrants on hunger strike are currently housed.
According to a volunteer doctor monitoring their state of health, one man was admitted to hospital with serious heart problems, while others suffered severe dehydration and gastrointestinal problems. The condition of the remainder was described as "marginal" and likely to deteriorate rapidly in the next few days.
"They are very weak and we expect that they will soon need hospitalisation," he said.
The mostly Asian migrants taking part in the hunger strike are demanding that the government pass measures giving legal residence status to all migrants currently in Greece, while they appeared determined to continue their struggle to the bitter end.
The government, on its part, has ruled out all prospect of mass legalisation for migrants and is determined to avoid setting a precedent in which individuals not meeting the requirements for legal residence could use a hunger strike as a lever for exerting pressure on the Greek state.
Ministers point out that this was already done during New Democracy's term when a small group of migrants that again came to Athens from Crete were given residence permits by the then ND government after they started falling ill of a hunger strike.
Representatives of the hunger-strikers, however, are now asking Prime Minister George Papandreou to personally intervene in order to find a solution before the situation gets out of hand.
The number of migrants that have discontinued or suspended their hunger strike had risen to 10 on Friday, while 227 were not taking food for the 25th consecutive day. They also issued a call for a rally at Museum Square at 18:00, followed by a march to the interior ministry.