Minister of the Interior Ögmundur Jónasson says the Directorate of Immigration needs a serious boost in funding to do its job. A growing influx of refugees is cited as the main cause.
While 89 asylum seekers are currently in Iceland awaiting a formal decision on their cases to be made by Icelandic authorities, their wait can often take a year or more. The Directorate of Immigration, which handles asylum seeker cases, says the wait is due to being understaffed and underfunded. RÚV reports that Minister of the Interior Ögmundur Jónasson agrees.
Handling refugee cases costs the Icelandic government about 200 million ISK per year, and the Directorate of Immigration says that waiting periods for application processing could be greatly shortened simply by being able to hire two more lawyers to their staff. Yesterday, Ögmundur brought up the matter at a cabinet meeting, requesting that funding for the directorate be increased.
Ögmundur noted that there has been an ever-increasing influx of refugees; far more than the directorate has been able to handle. Realistically, despite a tight budget, the only solution would be to increase the directorate’s budget. The matter will be discussed at the Ministry of Finance, but the final vote will lie with parliament.
No formal decision has yet been taken on the matter.