From Iceland — Evicted Refugees Now Also Reportedly Being Denied Medical Care

Evicted Refugees Now Also Reportedly Being Denied Medical Care

Published May 26, 2021

Andie Sophia Fontaine
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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, it is now being reported that 14 refugees in all have been evicted, and they are also being denied medical care.

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.

Sema Erla Serdar, founder of the refugee rights group Solaris, tweeted last night on the matter, and subsequently spoke with Fréttablaðið to elaborate further.

She reports that one of these refugees had a booked time with a doctor to see to urgent medical needs, but was informed that ÚTL had cancelled that appointment. Without a kennitala, he is also not able to book an appointment himself.

Sema also states that more refugees have been notified that if they do not assist in their own deportation, they will also be evicted.

The matter has reached the halls of Parliament, where Pirate Party MP Andrés Ingi Jónsson told his colleagues, “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.

All this being the case, Solaris has started a fund where all proceeds will go directly to these refugees so that they may receive food, shelter and other needs. Icelandic residents can donate to account number 515-26-600217, with the kennitala 600217-0380. For those abroad, the IBAN for the account is IS530515266002176002170380, SWIFT code GLITISRE.

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.

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