Palestinian Refugees Kicked Out Of Shelter For Refusing Pre-Deportation Test, Now Homeless

Palestinian Refugees Kicked Out Of Shelter For Refusing Pre-Deportation Test, Now Homeless

Published May 18, 2021

Andie Sophia Fontaine
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Palestinian refugees who were refused international protection in Iceland were kicked out of the shelter at Bæjarhraun in Hafnarfjörður, Kjarninn reports. According to sources close to Kjarninn and the Grapevine, they were denied housing due to their refusal to take a COVID screening test, which is one of the preparations made to deport these refugees to Greece. These people have no other place to stay, and cannot stay in a homeless shelter as they are denied an Icelandic identity number.

At the time of Kjarninn’s reporting, two people were kicked out of the Bæjarhraun shelter, and Sema Erla Serdar, founder of the refugee rights group Solaris, says that there are now seven refugees on the street, with more to come.

According to Kjarninn, the Directorate of Immigration (ÚTL) has recently told refugees that they must undergo a pre-deportation COVID test or be denied housing and what other little services they are also granted, such as a pre-paid card valid only at a supermarket. Refugees are by law not allowed to work in Iceland until they are granted international protection in this country.

Áshildur Linnet, team leader at the Red Cross, told reporters that “these are all young men with families in Gaza” and who have had friends and relatives killed in the most recent Israeli Defense Force air strikes on Gaza.

Arndís Anna Gunnarsdóttir, a lawyer for some Palestinian refugees, told reporters what other lawyers have told the Grapevine: that even those granted asylum in Greece are afforded no services and protections in that country—which has a much higher rate of coronavirus infection than Iceland—and most refugees in Greece end up homeless.

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