Govt officials to meet representative of hunger strikers

An intermediary is expected to meet officials from the Department of Justice later today in an effort to resolve the situation of the Afghan asylum-seekers on hunger strike at St Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin.

An intermediary is expected to meet officials from the Department of Justice later today in an effort to resolve the situation of the Afghan asylum-seekers on hunger strike at St Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin.

The development was announced by Socialist Party TD Joe Higgins following talks with the protestors this lunchtime.

There are also expectations that the men will begin taking water later today, but they apparently have no plans to end their hunger strike for the foreseeable future.

Thirty-three of the asylum-seekers entered the cathedral on Sunday and said they would starve themselves to death if they were not allowed to remain in Ireland.

Another six also joined the protest yesterday.

The men say they are at risk of torture and death if they return to Afghanistan, but fear they will be deported following the rejection of some of their asylum applications by the Irish authorities.

One of them, a 17-year-old, was hospitalised with kidney problems yesterday, while another six were taken to hospital today suffering from dehydration.

One of those is understood to be in a critical condition.

Supporters say the others are also weak and tired as a result of their action and are being examined by doctors inside the cathedral today.

A public demonstration is taking place outside the building to show solidarity with the men, who have been living in Ireland for between one and five years.

Some of the hunger-strikers apparently used to work for the former Taliban regime in Afghanistan or have relatives who did so.

They fear they will be targeted by anti-Taliban warlords if they return to the country.

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