An Afghan mother and daughter who have been on the run for 15 years have been denied asylum in Iceland. They face deportation, but a petition is underway demanding the Directorate of Immigration (UTL) grant them asylum.
Fréttatíminn reports that Maryam Raísi and Torpikey Farrash were subject to considerable persecution in Afghanistan, on account of being Shia Muslims and belonging to the Hazara ethnic minority, which has been subject to intense persecution. After traveling between Afghanistan and Iran for some years, the situation became so dangerous they were forced to flee to Europe, ending up in Sweden.
Swedish authorities denied them asylum due to a processing error, saying they were to be deported to Afghanistan. This prompted the mother and daughter to come to Iceland, where they also sought asylum. Unfortunately, both UTL and the Immigration Appeals Board refused to examine their case, evoking instead the Dublin Regulation – an international agreement which gives signatory states the power, although not the obligation, to deport asylum seekers back to their previous point of departure if they had applied for asylum elsewhere.
In addition to the certain persecution they will face in Afghanistan, Torpikey also suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, which has caused her many related health problems. Despite this, they face deportation to Sweden, from where they will in all certainty be sent to Afghanistan.
Many Icelanders disagree enough with UTL’s decision to have started a petition demanding they be allowed to stay and build a life for themselves in Iceland.
“Sending the mother and daughter back to Sweden will be one more trauma in their life-long search for safety and security,” the petition text reads in part. “If they are deported to Sweden, they will have little hope of having the processing error made in their application corrected, which will lead to them being immediately sent to Afghanistan, where they will be in considerable danger.”
The petition has over 1,200 signatures at the time of this writing. Many of the Icelanders commenting on the petition have expressed shock and sadness at UTL’s decision, as one succinctly put it: “Iceland is big enough for those women and many more.”