Five Years Later: The Impact of a Hunger Strike on Undocumented Migrant Workers in Brussels


Five years after a hunger strike of undocumented migrant workers, participants were interviewed to find out about the long term consequences and what the post-factum evaluation of their participation was. A longitudinal observational study was set up, interviewing 46 of the 100 ex-hunger strikers and combining quantitative and qualitative research. This grassroots study shows that one out of six did not derive any benefit from their participation. Half regretted their participation, especially the ones who lost again their legal permit, mentioning health consequences and the fact that their situation hadn’t improved. Given the growing number of asylum seekers around the world who are being refused legal permits, hunger strikes will remain a pressing topic. Health professionals, confronted with this possible health and life threatening action, should be informed about the long term impact of voluntary fasting on body and mind of ex-participants.

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Correspondence to Rita Vanobberghen.

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Vanobberghen, R., Louckx, F., Devroey, D. et al. Five Years Later: The Impact of a Hunger Strike on Undocumented Migrant Workers in Brussels. J Immigrant Minority Health 22, 392–398 (2020).

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  • Hunger strike/r/s
  • Undocumented immigrants
  • Decision making