From Iceland — Syrian Family Granted Asylum

Syrian Family Granted Asylum

Published February 16, 2016

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Art Bicnick

A Syrian family once denied asylum in Iceland has now been granted residency.

RÚV reports that Wael Aliyadah and Feryal Aldahsah have been granted asylum by the Directorate of Immigration for humanitarian reasons. They arrived in Iceland last July, fleeing war-torn Syria and deplorable refugee conditions in Greece, and have been on the run – along with their two daughters – for the past two years now.

The family are reportedly delighted by the news, and will now be focusing on starting a new life for themselves in Iceland.

Their cast first gained national attention last October, when they had been denied asylum in Iceland on the grounds that they had already received it in Greece.

However, Wael 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 the September previous that Greece is amongst the countries considered “unsafe” for refugees to be sent.

Lawyer Ragnar Aðalsteinsson told reporters at the time 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.

In related news, the Directorate of Immigration released the numbers regarding asylum seeker cases closed in January. Of the 52 cases which drew to a close last month, only six resulted in asylum being granted, while four withdrew their applications voluntarily, and one person received asylum in another country. The remaining 41 were rejected; 21 of those on the grounds of the Dublin Regulation, which grants signatory countries the right – although not the obligation – to send asylum seekers back to their previous point of departure. It is this regulation which was initially invoked in the case of the Syrian family.

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