From Iceland — City Counseling Services For Immigrants Ends

City Counseling Services For Immigrants Ends

Published January 25, 2017

Photo by
Art Bicnick

From the beginning of this year, Reykjavík counseling services for immigrants have been ended.

In an statement from last December, the city announced that they would be bringing their immigration counseling services to a close, lowering the curtain on a service the capital’s immigrant population has depended on since 2010.

The news of this closure is especially puzzling in light of platform points made by Reykjavík Social Democrats, the party from which Mayor Dagur B. Eggertsson hails. Amongst these platform points is that “we will continue to develop model counseling for Reykjavík residents of foreign origin”.

Grapevine contacted Anna Kristinsdóttir, the Director of the Human Rights Office for the city, to get an explanation as to why these services were unceremoniously ended. In her response, Anna said that she took this decision herself, and then informed the Human Rights Committee of her decision.

“The reason that the Human Rights Office no longer offers this service is first and foremost because most of the matters brought to counselors concerned government services; not Reykjavík services,” she said. “We have advised those individuals who need counseling about government matters to get in touch with the Multicultural and Information Centre (MCC), which offers such services.”

However, the most common services immigrants need help with, such as getting a kennitala or registering their address, have always been government services rather than municipal ones. It should also be had in mind that while MCC has a website, their main office is in Ísafjörður; not Reykjavík.

“The employees of the Human Rights Office will increase its focus on providing counseling with the city, as well as to educate employees about this group,” she added. “Counseling on Reykjavík city services will, as before, be provided by city customer service.”

Grapevine contacted both Dagur and Social Democrat councilperson Magnús Már Guðmundsson for comment this afternoon. We will post a response should any such update occur.

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