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

  • Rita VanobberghenEmail author
  • Fred Louckx
  • Dirk Devroey
  • Jan Vandevoorde
Original Paper


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.


Hunger strike/r/s Undocumented immigrants Decision making 



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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rita Vanobberghen
    • 1
    Email author
  • Fred Louckx
    • 2
  • Dirk Devroey
    • 1
  • Jan Vandevoorde
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Family Medicine, Faculty of Medicine and PharmacyVrije Universiteit BrusselBrusselsBelgium
  2. 2.Department of Sociology, Faculty of Medicine and PharmacyVrije Universiteit BrusselBrusselsBelgium

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