A Nigerian asylum seeker, who is 18 weeks pregnant and has two small boys, is still facing deportation. Today, she went to parliament, where she intends to speak with Icelandic legislators to bring attention to her case.
Regina Osarumaese, a Nigerian woman who left her home country when she was only six years old, has been on the run ever since. She arrived in Iceland in 2014 with her son Daniel, who in 2012 was born in Italy, where they used to live on the streets. Her second son, Felix, was born in Iceland in 2014. Despite repeated requests for asylum, she has been rejected by both the Directorate of Immigration (UTL) and the Immigration Appeals Board. She is currently trying to get a court date to appeal her case further.
In the meantime, doctors have confirmed that she will need a Cesarean in order to give birth to her new child – a service she is not likely to get on the streets of Italy, where she is due to be deported to, let alone in Nigeria. She contacted The Grapevine to let us know she was taking her message directly to parliament. She is currently standing at the parliamentary entrance with her sons, hoping to speak with any legislator who will have a word with her.
Social Democrat MP Árni Páll Árnason exchanged a few words with her on his way our of parliament today. There, he was briefed on a summary of her situation. By Regina’s account, Árni Páll told her he would do his best.
Unfortunately, there is little members of parliament can do about individual asylum seeker cases. The Directorate of Immigration (UTL) still has the legal authority to deport asylum seekers based on the Dublin Regulation, an international agreement whereby signatory states may reserve the right – although not the obligation – to deport asylum seekers back to their previous point of departure without examining their cases if they have applied for asylum elsewhere.
In Regina’s case, her family was persecuted in Nigeria, necessitating their flight from the country when she was just a small child. Regardless, in documents from UTL and the Immigration Appeals Board, authorities contend that they see no reason why Regina or her children would be in any danger if they were sent back to Nigeria.
“I don’t know anyone in Italy,” she told us. “I have no one in Nigeria anymore. My children and I will be living on the street if we’re sent back there.”
Stranger still is the fact that Minister of the Interior Ólöf Nordal, who oversees UTL, told parliament last September that Italy is amongst the European countries that “are not considered secure countries. It would not be safe to send asylum seekers back there”.
Regina says she is already establishing a life for herself here, and her children have started making friends. However, UTL has ruled that neither Regina nor her children have any special ties to Iceland – even though Felix was born here. Despite being 18 weeks pregnant, she is still slated to be put on a plane with her children and sent to Italy, where she says her choices are to live on the street or be sent back to Nigeria, where her life and the lives of her children will be in danger.
“I just want to make a life for my children here,” Regina says. “There is nothing for me in Nigeria.”