In the wake of recent news that the Directorate of Immigration (ÚTL) is evicting Palestinian asylum seekers from refugee centres and denying them their food stipend for refusing to take a pre-deportation COVID screening, Pirate Party MP Andrés Ingi Jónsson harshly criticised ÚTL for the practice, Vísir reports.
At the time of this writing, nine refugees in all have been evicted. These people have no other place to stay, and cannot stay in a homeless shelter as they are denied an Icelandic identity number (kennitala). They are also not permitted to work, and rely on pre-paid grocery store cards to eat, but ÚTL has also taken these cards away from those evicted. Their refusal to take a pre-deportation COVID screening is due to them not wanting to be deported in the first place, and in many cases Icelandic authorities have refused to even examine their cases before issuing deportation notices. A great many are in the midst of appealing their deportation decisions.
“Starved into submission”
“There are now ten applicants for international protection on the on the street after ÚTL kicked them out and deprived them of their resources,” Andrés Ingi told Parliament yesterday. “To hell with compassion and human rights, [ÚTL] intends to starve refugees into submission so that it will be possible to torture them again in inhumane conditions in Greece.”
Here Andrés is referring to the fact that most, if not all, the Palestinian refugees denied international protection in Iceland are set to be deported to Greece. As the Grapevine and others have reported repeatedly, 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. The atrocities and hardships in Greek refugee camps are well-documented. The fact that those granted protection are cut off from services, and more often than not end up homeless and subjected to violence is also a matter of public record.
Real solidarity with Palestine
Andrés pointed out the position that ÚTL had put these ten individuals in, and called for real solidarity with the Palestinian people.
“How about, for example, solidarity with those individuals who have had to flee the attacks in recent days?,” he said. “News of applicants seeking international protection, which the Icelandic government intends to send to Greece, has poured over us. Within this group are people who fled the situation in Gaza and received protection in Greece, but then had to flee again from the broken system in Greece. The Icelandic authorities do not even intend to show these applicants the respect of opening their case files for examination.”
Andrés said in closing: “It is not enough to condemn violence with public words but then beat around the bush when it comes to something of substance.”
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.
Also you can get regular news from Iceland—including the latest notifications on eruptions, as soon as they happen—by signing up to our newsletter.
Buy subscriptions, t-shirts and more from our shop right here!