A woman originally from Nigeria, who fled Italy where she had been held against her will in a human trafficking ring, has been denied international protection in Iceland after living here for two years, Vísir reports. Her lawyer is hopeful that the Immigration Appeals Board will open her case again, as she fits all the criteria for asylum in Iceland.
Blessing Newton told reporters that she originally went to Italy where she was promised a job in child care. This offer was made under false pretenses, however, as in 2016 she was held against her will and subjected to physical abuse.
She managed to escape and, after living on the streets of Italy for a time, received help in coming to Iceland, where she applied for international protection on humanitarian grounds. However, both the Directorate of Immigration and the Immigration Appeals Board denied her request. As such, she is slated to be deported back to Italy.
Magnús Norðdal, Blessing’s lawyer, told reporters that she fulfills all the requirements for receiving asylum in Iceland, and is currently working to get the Immigration Appeals Board to re-examine her case.
Blessing is terrified of being sent to Italy, where her residence permit is no longer valid. Her greatest fear is that she will end up taken by the same people who forced her into human trafficking in the first place.
“I came here to receive protection, to ask for help and to have the opportunity to live here,” she told reporters. “That’s why I’m still waiting to get help, because I’m tired. I’m so tired.”
Ragna Björg Guðbrandsdóttir, who is the chairperson of the abuse survivor’s shelter Bjarkahlíð, is experienced with working with survivors of human trafficking from Nigeria. Over the last two years, 31 women from Nigeria have sought protection in Iceland, according to statistics from the Directorate of Immigration. Ragna fears that a great proportion of those women were fleeing human trafficking.
No Borders Iceland is asking those who live in the country to donate money to the Styr solidarity fund with the note “Blessing”. All proceeds will then go directly to her. For direct deposit, the Styr kennitala is 510219-1550 and the account number is 0133-26-020590. Those wishing to contact Icelandic authorities and ask that they grant Blessing asylum are asked to email the Minister of Justice at firstname.lastname@example.org, and the Directorate of Immigration at email@example.com.
Note: Due to the effect the Coronavirus is having on tourism in Iceland, it’s become increasingly difficult for the Grapevine to survive. If you enjoy our content and want to help the Grapevine’s journalists do things like eat and pay rent, please consider joining our High Five Club.
You can also check out our shop, loaded with books, apparel and other cool merch, that you can buy and have delivered right to your door.
Buy subscriptions, t-shirts and more from our shop right here!