Applications for asylum have decreased by 40% between last year and this one, RÚV reports. However, deportations of Iraqi asylum seekers are increasing, in part because the Directorate of Immigration (UTL) believes that parts of Iraq are safe enough to live in now.
There were 370 applications for asylum filed at UTL from January to July of this year, down from 626 over the same months last year. Last year, most asylum seekers hailed from Georgia and Albania, but this year most of them are coming from Iraq. 78 Iraqis have sought asylum in Iceland so far this year, compared to 58 over the same months in 2017.
However, the number of deportations of Iraqi asylum seekers has increased significantly. In 2015 and 2016, all Iraqi asylum seekers were granted asylum. Last year, three were rejected, and this year, seven have been told to leave the country.
In a written response to RÚV, UTL says that part of the reason for this is as such: “When determining whether or not an individual needs asylum, not only is their nationality taken into consideration, but also from what region of the country they come, and their personal circumstances. The situation in numerous parts of Iraq has improved in recent years. The Iraqi government has regained control over some areas and violence has decreased. The situation in the Kurdish territory of northeast Iraq is stable.”
Despite these contentions, even a cursory search shows that violence is still a problem for Kurdish Iraq, a point that has even been raised by Amnesty International, so it is unclear how UTL is making their determinations.
Most deportation decisions are appealed to the Immigration Appeals Board. From there, the Board either confirms UTL’s decision, overturns it, or refers the case back to UTL again.