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Hunger striking foreigners say they are serious
After three days, a hunger strike started by foreigners being kept at the detention unit of the Metsälä Reception Centre in Helsinki does not yet show on the faces of the strikers. However, the purpose of the fast, which began Sunday night, is quite clear.
"I am ready to continue the strike until officials grant me a residence permit in Finland.", says Ahid Hachimi, who has been at the reception centre for three weeks.
In addition to refusing food, the strikers say that they are drinking only very little.
"My muscles are sore and my head aches. I feel tired", says Elouadi Moshab.
Currently 11 residents at the Metsälä centre are on hunger strike. One of the strikers was classified as an asylum seeker on Wednesday, and is no longer at the reception centre.
Most of the other strikers have applied for a permanent residence permit in Finland, but their applications have been rejected for various reasons.
The residents of the detention unit are waiting for the process to continue. There is much time, with little to do.
"Sometimes we play basketball, sometimes we exercise. A big problem is that we are not prisoners, but we still cannot move around freely", says Moshab, a Moroccan.
He has been in Finland since September, and is waiting for a final decision on his fate.
"I don't know why I was put here. This is like a prison. I had a job and an apartment. I worked at a shipyard in Helsinki for five months, and paid my taxes", says Youssef Belkaid, who left his home in Algeria about ten years ago.
Belkaid, who came to Finland without a passport, says that he reported to police himself in order to get legal status in the country.
"My employer wants to keep me here, and I also brought my work contract to the police", says Belkaid, who did insulation work on ships at the shipyard.
Belkaid says that his application was rejected, and that he faces possible expulsion.
Ahmed Bissaud has been in Finland for about four years without a passport. Bissaud, who is married in Finland, has a baby less than three months old.
"I just want to live an ordinary life with my wife and my child. I have a right to do that", Ahmed Bissaud says.