Kurdish asylum seekers on hunger strike in Poland

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Ten Kurdish asylum seekers in Poland on Friday entered their third week of a hunger strike to protest what they described as prison-like conditions and a slow immigration process.

“The strike began on May 4,” said Dagmara Bielec, a spokeswoman for the Polish border guard.

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She added that the six Iraqis and four Turks have requested asylum and are staying at a immigration holding center in Lesznowola, near the capital Warsaw.

A spokesman for the hunger strikers told AFP that nine of them had arrived via the border with Belarus and had now spent several months “confined” to the center.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the man described the strikers as “very weak, with some of them having begun to refuse beverages too.”

The asylum seekers are protesting the conditions of their confinement, including the food, limited telephone and Internet access and difficulties contacting lawyers.

Since last year, thousands of migrants and refugees – mostly from the Middle East – have come knocking at the EU member’s door via its border with Belarus.

Poland has accused the Belarusian regime of orchestrating the influx and has responded with the construction of a barbed wire fence and alleged pushbacks.

Rights activists have condemned the strict approach, pointing to the fact that Poland has simultaneously been welcoming Ukrainian war refugees with open arms.

Bielec said “staff at the center have continued to speak to the strikers about their conditions and legal situation, notably trying to convince them to abandon the hunger strike... but to no avail.”

Read more: Turkish forces shell Kurdish-controlled areas in northern Aleppo: Report

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