From Iceland — Allegations Of Negligence At Ásbrú Refugee Camp

Allegations Of Negligence At Ásbrú Refugee Camp

Published October 27, 2020

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According to an article published by mbl today, serious allegations have come out about negligence and deprivation of liberty at the Ásbrú refugee camp.

The Facebook status on the Refugees in Iceland Facebook page says “Things are not ok! For a week, the immigration office has severely limited our rights and freedom, which were both already very limited.” The status goes on to say that, although residents at the camp are not permitted to leave their rooms without a mask, the immigration office has only supplied them with one disposable mask each. As soon as these single use masks are used until they cannot be used again, lost, or thrown away, the office is not giving residents new ones and therefore are not allowing them to leave their rooms.

Communal areas have been closed, including the kitchen, so residents are now no longer able to make their own food. Food is served at the camp twice a day, between 12:00 and 13:00 and again between 18:00 and 19:00. It is alleged that if meals are missed, there is no other chance of getting food, and that the food offered does not cater for people with dietary restrictions such as diabetes.  “We are suffering from psychological pressure, not being able to go out or do anything else than stay inside for months on end. We are suffering from hunger due to not enough food and bad food. People have started to ask for a voluntary return to Greece. A place they fled from to seek more security here.”

Allegations denied

The Directorate of Immigration denies the allegations, saying that stricter measures had to be taken due to the two metre rule coming into effect across the country. “Due to the facilities in the institute’s two resorts at Ásbrú, where it is not possible to enforce the two metre rule in shared kitchens, it was decided to buy temporary food trays for those who live here. Residents are not obliged to wear masks in common areas, but it has been recommended that they wear a mask when collecting food trays and when they interact with others within the resort without being able to maintain two metres distance. Residents can obtain masks from security guards, or an employee of the Directorate of Immigration as needed. They are also provided with rubbing alcohol and hand soap. No one is denied a food tray and everyone is free to leave the house at will.”

In a conversation with mbl, Þórhildur Hagalín, the information representative at the Directorate of Immigration, said that “Disease control measures here are measured differently, as they reduce the possibilities for applicants to manage their daily lives in the most normal way. Similarly, misunderstandings arise between people, not least in places where many people live together. The agency does its best to correct these misunderstanding, but these measures are new and it takes time for new guidelines to gain a foothold when it comes to such a diverse group of people.”

The full Facebook post can be read HERE.

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