Refugees in Czech detention center continue hunger strike

Published November 12th, 2015 - 05:30 GMT

Dozens of refugees have launched a hunger strike in protest at the duration of their stay at a detention facility in the Czech Republic.

Petra Damms, a volunteer who visited the Drahonice facility, said some 44 refugees went on the hunger strike on Tuesday morning, but their number rose to more than 60 later in the afternoon.

"It is not because of the physical conditions they strike, it is the extending of their detention, they don't know why," Dammas also said.

He further noted that the strike came after Czech officials transported some 40 refugees from the facility at 3:00 a.m. the same day, raising fears of deportation among the refugees.

Some 144 refugees are held at the newly-opened Drahonice facility, about 90 km west of Prague. They were mainly transferred from a detention facility in Bela-Jezova that was criticized for its poor condition.

Czech officials detain people for up to 90 days if they do not return them to the country they came from. Some 7,201 asylum seekers have been detected in the Czech Republic until October this year. Very few of them seek asylum there as most of them try to reach Germany after being released.

The detentions are part of a larger policy by some Eastern and Central European governments to curb the flow of refugees most of whom are fleeing war and violence.

UN figures show that more than 700,000 asylum seekers have reached Europe’s shores so far this year and that more than 3,000 others have died or gone missing in their dangerous boat journeys.

The majority of refugees have arrived in Greece, which has become the most common refugee destination along with Italy.

Most of the asylum seekers head for Germany, hoping to take refuge there. Germany said earlier this week that the country is likely to host at least 800,000 new refugees this year, and that the total could reach 1.5 million by the end of 2015.

The European Union has predicted that at least three million more refugees would enter the bloc by 2017.

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