From Iceland — Asylum Seekers: Some Accepted, Others Deported

Asylum Seekers: Some Accepted, Others Deported

Published January 29, 2016

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Art Bicnick

Announcements today of residency and deportation for would-be asylum seekers shows a distinct inconsistency in immigration policy. Asylum seekers facing similar circumstances in their home countries could be either accepted or ordered to leave the country, with the Directorate of Immigration (UTL) citing the law in all cases.

RÚV reports that a Kurdish family from Iraq, a married couple from Iran, and stateless man from Latvia have all been granted asylum in Iceland for humanitarian reasons. The couple from Iran face religious persecution back home, the man from Latvia is gay and fleeing persecutory laws in his home country, and the Kurdish family from Iraq were living under constant threat of attack from Daesh, also known as the Islamic State.

The latter case is especially pertinent when having in mind the case of Eze Okafor.

DV reports that Eze, who is originally from Nigeria, sought asylum in Iceland in 2012. In his home country, he lived under a constant threat of violence from Boko Haram. Boko Haram is, much like Daesh, a fundamentalist militia terrorising civilian populations, and in fact the two groups are allies working towards the same goals.

Despite having almost identical circumstances to the above-mentioned asylum seekers who gained residency, Ezo received notice today that he is to be deported on Monday. UTL did not believe he fit the legal qualification for requiring asylum for humanitarian reasons. Eze, who has a full time job and has made numerous friends in Iceland is, quite understandably, sorrowful and confused about UTL’s decision.

“I have lived in Iceland for four years, and I see Iceland as my home,” he told reporters. “Here, I have a place to live and people that I consider family. I have behaved, contributed to society, and have just attained balance in my life when I received this horrible news.”

Ezo is in fact still being sought by Boko Haram. If he returns to Nigeria, he says, his fate is all but sealed.

“I’m going to be sent back to Nigeria where my life is in danger,” he said. “I know these people [in Boko Haram] and I know that they are still looking for me. The only thing I ask is the opportunity to tell my story. That I am treated like a human being; not a number on a piece of paper.”

Katrín Theodórsdóttir, Eze’s lawyer, told reporters that they have a meeting with UTL today regarding his residency application. It is their hope that he will be allowed to stay in the country for at least as long as it takes to process this application. For now, he is scheduled to be sent back to Nigeria early Monday morning.

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