A young man who fled Nigeria and subsequent human trafficking is now facing deportation from Iceland, despite having a strong social network and a job offer in this country.
Uhunoma Osayomore, who is 21 years old, left home in Nigeria when he was only 16 years old after witnessing his own father kill his mother and suffered the loss of his younger sister in an accident. Shortly thereafter, he was kidnapped by slave traders and subjected to sexual violence. Escaping that situation, he arrived in Iceland in October 2019.
Since his arrival, Uhunoma has been taken in by an Icelandic family of six and made numerous friends. He also has a job waiting for him, should authorities allow him to work—asylum seekers are, by law, not permitted to work while their applications are being processed without being granted a special permit to do so.
However, his application for international protection was denied by the Directorate of Immigration and the Immigration Appeals Board, and is now facing deportation.
Speaking to Fréttablaðið, Uhunoma’s lawyer, Magnús Norðdahl, said that the Appeals Board believes Uhunoma can simply go to the police in Nigeria if he is deported there, which Magnús considers to be a wholly inaccurate assessment.
“That he can turn to the police in Nigeria is absurd,” he said. “There is apathy towards these survivors,” adding that the police in Nigeria are corrupt. “The party’s account of sexual violence and being a victim of human trafficking is unequivocal. The government, however, believes that the situation in Nigeria is safe for this group.”
Uhunoma is understandably terrified of being deported to Nigeria. His case will in the coming days be brought before Reykjavík District Court, and there is also an impending request to the Appeals Board to review the matter again.
In the meantime, a petition which has, at the time of this writing, received over 7,000 signatures, is calling upon Icelandic authorities to grant Uhunoma international protection in Iceland.
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!