An Albanian family, which includes an infant boy with a heart condition, were deported from Iceland late last night. The deportation, which took place on International Human Rights Day, has sparked harsh criticism from the public and politicians alike, and a petition is circulating calling for Minister of the Interior Ólöf Nordal to resign.
Stöð 2 reports that the family originally came to Iceland seeking asylum from their home country, where they had received death threats and cannot get medical treatment for their youngest child. While the Directorate of Immigration (UTL) had the legal authority to grant the family asylum for humanitarian reasons, their application for asylum was denied. Over a dozen police showed up at the family’s home at 1:00 this morning, and put them, as well as one other family from Albania and three from Macedonia, on a bus for Keflavík Airport. The other Albanian family has a toddler with cystic fibrosis, a genetic disorder that requires a regime of medication to prevent frequent and serious lung infections.
(Video: Kristinn Magnússon, Stundin)
While the family originally appealed their case to the Immigration Appeals Board, UTL Director Kristín Völundardóttir – who has in the past compared asylum seekers to tourists looking for free lodging and food – told RÚV that the family withdrew their appeal and asked to be deported.
However, Vísir reports that the family only made this decision after they were told that their one-year-old son will not be receiving the medical attention he needs here in Iceland.
The deportation has already sparked strong criticism. Icelanders across social media are expressing anger and sadness at the decision, and politicians from numerous parties have chimed in, many of them saying the decision fills them with shame.
“I find it awfully sad that the government would do this,” Social Democrat MP Katrín Júlíusdóttir posted. “A chronically ill child from a beautiful family, deported from the country in the middle of the night by the police. They tried so hard to look for a better life. Completely ready to work and be with us. Why do people do this? Torn from their jobs, playschool, and their new social contacts. Because they don’t fit in the minister’s box? Ólöf speaks nicely but hides behind criteria that removes any humanity from the system. I am ashamed.”
As such, a petition has been circulating calling for the Minister of the Interior to resign. Started only hours ago, it has already gathered over 2,600 signatures at the time of this writing.
UTL has issued a statement saying the decision will not be reconsidered.
Albönsk fjölskylda sem kom hingað til lands í leit að betra lífi var send aftur til heimalands síns í nótt. Það er hræðilegt að ekki skuli vera hægt að veita fólki/ fjölskyldum sem hingað koma í neyð hæli af mannúðarástæðum eins og þessari fjölskyldu. Allir þeir sem komu að ákvörðuninni um að senda þessa fjölskyldu til baka mættu skammast sín. Fulltrúar Lögreglunnar sem mættu á staðinn mættu gera slíkt hið sama. http://stundin.is/frett/logreglan-leidinni-ad-fjarlaegja-albonsku-fjolskyl/
Posted by Óðinn S. Ragnarsson on Wednesday, 9 December 2015