A plane was chartered and 18 law enforcement officers employed to escort a group of 29 asylum seekers back to Croatia today, RÚV reports.
In addition to the law enforcement team, the escort includes a medical doctor, a psychologist, an interpreter and a representative from the Icelandic Human Rights Centre.
Otherwise, the group largely consists of Croatian families of Serbian descent who say they face ethnic persecution in Croatia. However, the Directorate of Immigration has rejected their application for asylum stating that the matter was investigated and no evidence found that the applicants faced persecution in Croatia, where minority rights are allegedly recognized by law.
On the other hand, the deportation of three families has been suspended on the grounds that it would entail splitting them up. Croatia refuses to accept these three families because they each have at least one spouse who is not a Croatian citizen. Two are Serbian citizens and one is a Macedonian citizen. These families await a new verdict from the Directorate of Immigration which is expected at the end of the month.
Upwards of fifty Croatian citizens have sought asylum here during the past months. While the Directorate of Immigration has ordered most of them back to Croatia, it has not deterred some of them from planning to come back this summer. Croatia joins the European Union on July 1, 2013 and Croatian citizens will then be free to work and live in Iceland. That is, unless the government applies for an extension on employment restrictions, as they did in 2007 when Bulgaria and Romania joined the EU, which prevented residents of the latter countries from gaining access to the labour market here until 2011.
Picture of Icelandair plane unrelated.