According to new data from The Directorate of Immigration, the number of asylum seekers applying for international protection in Iceland has sharply decreased between the years 2016 and 2017, Kjarninn reports.
In addition, the number of applications filed so far this year has almost halved compared to the same period last year, while the asylum seekers that have been seeking the services of the Directorate of Immigration or the municipalities decreased by one third.
According to the report, in the first two months of the year about 95 asylum seekers applied for international protection in Iceland, with most of them (about 16) coming from Iraq, compared to 140 in the same months of 2017. Of these 95, only 17 have received protection so far. In total, the Directorate of Immigration recorded 1,096 asylum applications throughout 2017, which is a lot less than the year before.
The number of asylum seekers who receive help from the national government or municipalities has also decreased by almost one third, from 820 to 559. This includes individuals who are, for instance, waiting for their applications to be processed and receive an allowance of 8,000 ISK a week (80 USD). The amount goes up to 23 thousand ISK (230 USD) for families of four. The allowances also includes an extra 2s700 ISK (27 USD) in pocket money for every adult asylum seeker, while parents receive an extra 1,000 ISK (10 USD) for every child they have.
The money spent on asylum seekers has been a matter of controversy for local politicians. MP Ásmundur Friðriksson from The Independence Party, aka The Man Who Drove Too Much, criticised government spending claiming that according to the figures published by The Directorate of Immigration, the State’s expenditure was expected to first go up to 6 billion ISK (60 million USD) a year and then reach the 220 billion ISK (2.2 billion USD) mark.
In the general budget bill for 2018, however, the total contribution to asylum seekers only amounts to about 2.7 billion ISK (27 million USD) this year.
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