No Holiday Payments For Asylum Seekers This Year - The Reykjavik Grapevine

No Holiday Payments For Asylum Seekers This Year

Published December 18, 2017

Photos by
Art Bicnick

Asylum seekers in Iceland are normally granted a little something extra in December, but this year will be an exception.

In Iceland, asylum seekers are legally barred from working. They are housed in shelters and are given a weekly allowance of about 8,000 ISK per week; 5,000 ISK per child. Normally in December, usually during the week Christmas falls on, these people are given an additional week’s allowance, but RÚV reports that will not be the case this year.

At the end of November, the Directorate of Immigration (UTL) sent an announcement to the municipalities of Reykjanesbær, Hafnarfjörður and Reykjavík that there will be no holiday payment to asylum seekers this year, on account of there being no legal provision for it in the new Law on Foreigners.

Sema Erla Serdar, the chair of asylum seeker rights group Solaris, told RÚV that she considers the matter “absurd” and without any logical support.

“I can’t even imagine what kind of reasoning they could use to justify such a decision,” she said. “They’re clearly singling out one group in particular, which is impossible to understand and inhumane. This is of course not a monetary amount that makes much of a difference to the state or the municipalities, but it can sure make a difference for individuals and families who have absolutely nothing.”

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