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More than 100 Hunger Strikers Hospitalized in Greece

An immigrant from North Africa is carried away by paramedics at the Hypatia mansion in Athens, March 1, 2011

More than 100 migrants campaigning for legal status in Greece have been hospitalized after being on a hunger strike for more than 40 days.

Hospitals say supporters of the hospitalized strikers have tried to prevent staffers from giving them food. The Associated Press reports two women were arrested Tuesday for preventing attendants from feeding the patients.

A support group for the strikers says leaving food next to the patients' beds when they have refused it constitutes torture.

Last week, doctors treating the strikers told reporters that some of the migrants were starting to suffer from heart and kidney problems.

The migrants, mostly from North Africa, are demanding that the Greek government give them residency permits. Many of them say they have been living and working in Greece for years.

Labor unions and human rights groups are supporting their cause. But Greek authorities have said they will not give in to the migrants just because they are on a hunger strike.

Greece is struggling to deal with a wave of illegal immigrants as well as high unemployment and a weak economy.

United Nations and European Union officials have criticized Greece for what they say is poor treatment of illegal migrants, including overcrowded migrant centers and slow processing of asylum requests.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.