From Iceland — 14 People Granted Asylum

14 People Granted Asylum

Published November 21, 2015

Andie Sophia Fontaine
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14 people from Iraq and Syria were granted asylum yesterday, but one Syrian family facing deportation to Greece was not amongst them.

The 14 individuals granted asylum in Iceland include children amongst them, RÚV reports. Kristjana Fenger, a lawyer who has worked on asylum seeker issues, told reporters that this does not indicate a change in policy at the Directorate of Immigration.

“The individuals who came here in the late summer and in the fall came through border control, with no fingerprints anywhere or anything like that,” she said. “Iceland was actually the first place where they sought asylum.”

Here Kristjana refers to the Dublin Regulation, which gives signatory countries the right – although not the obligation – to deport asylum seekers back to their previous point of departure, or back to other countries where they previously sought asylum.

This may explain why, as Bryndís Björgvínsdóttir pointed out, one Syrian family was not amongst those granted asylum yesterday, as they were previously granted asylum in Greece.

However, the family told reporters it was never their intention to stay in Greece, where their lives would consist mostly of living on the streets. Indeed, even Minister of the Interior Ólöf Nordal – whose jurisdiction includes the Directorate of Immigration – told parliament last month that Greece is amongst the countries considered “unsafe” for refugees to be sent.

Lawyer Ragnar Aðalsteinsson told reporters that while the Directorate’s decision was technically correct, “we cannot forget that the government has a policy of not sending people to Greece.” He added that the Directorate could have very well granted asylum to the family for humanitarian reasons.

According to friends of Bryndís, the family in question have appealed their case to the Immigration Appeals Board, where it is currently awaiting processing.

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