Friends and supporters of Uhunoma Osayomore, a human trafficking survivor facing deportation from Iceland, gave Minister of Justice Áslaug Arna Sigurbjörnsdóttir a petition of over 45,000 signatures urging Icelandic authorities to grant him protection, Vísir reports.
“This shows that the Icelandic people have taken a very clear position and are sending a clear message to authorities, and that there are many who want Uhunoma to have a home here,” Tómas Manoury, a friend of Uhunoma, told reporters. “The situation as it is now is taking its toll on him. He’s scared and is experiencing great injustice, so we’re trying to support him through this. And doing all that we can so that he can stay here.”
As reported, Uhunoma 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.
Magnús D. Norðdahl, Uhunoma’s lawyer, furthermore believes that immigration authorities deliberately ignored details of Uhunoma’s case; specifically, the evidence that he is a survivor of human trafficking. Such survivors, by Icelandic law, can be granted international protection even if they do not fulfill other requirements for a residence permit.
Close to 46,000 people have signed the petition at the time of this writing.
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