From Iceland — Chairman Of Family Aid Criticised For Discrimination And Xenophobia

Chairman Of Family Aid Criticised For Discrimination And Xenophobia

Published December 10, 2020

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Vísir reports that a number of former clients and volunteers have come forward with their experiences of discrimination and degrading treatment at Iceland Family Aid (Fjölskyldahjálp), on the basis of religion and nationality.

The chairman of Family Aid has been said to have instructed volunteers to give Muslim women less food than Icelanders. Refusal to comply with this instruction could lead to “being shouted at”, said Gyða Dröfn Hannesdóttir, who was a volunteer at the organisation. She felt compelled to leave Family Aid after witnessing this discrimination.

In 2010, Vísir released a short transcript from an interview that a journalist from Fréttablaðið had with Ásgerður Jóna Flosadóttir, the director of Family Aid. In this excerpt, which details only the first minute of conversation, Flosadóttir explained that while Family Aid is committed to helping all those in need, the organisation sometimes makes the decision to prioritise Icelanders. This, in addition to the new reports of discrimination, is concerning to many. It will be disappointing to many people that a decade later, measures have not been taken to address discrimination within the organisation.

Family Aid’s website states that they provide help to all people ‘regardless of their origin’, but these recent descriptions of discrimination from clients and volunteers show that it is not this simple in practise. There is a bigger discussion to be had about the power structures that inform biases and affect instances of discriminations such as these, and an intersectional approach is needed to address the needs of all those experiencing financial hardship: Icelanders and foreigners alike.

2020 has seen an increase of awareness regarding racism, discrimination, and human rights, and of course Iceland is not exempt from these discussions. You can read more about racism in Iceland here.

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