The Directorate of Immigration (ÚTL) invited a group of asylum seekers to a meeting at their offices in Hafnarfjörður yesterday morning and offered to pay them money to return to their home countries, Vísir reports. Kurds who were present at the meeting declined the offer, saying that they would instead prefer to just be able to live in Iceland.
Some 30 asylum seekers in all were present at the meeting, many of them fearful of what it would entail in the wake of recent news of two Palestinians who were violently arrested after being invited to this same office under false pretenses.
Following the meeting, reporters spoke with some of the asylum seekers to ask what transpired. One of them, Raman Abdulsamad, has been in Iceland for three and a half years.
“They offered us 300 euros if we agreed [to leave the country] and 3,000 euros upon arrival in Iraqi Kurdistan,” he said. He said that the Kurds present declined the offer—that they do not want money; they want to live their lives in Iceland, as they fear for their safety in Iraq.
“ÚTL employees asked us to think about the offer but when we declined the offer they said ‘then live here’,” he said. “I hope they find some kind of solution for us, because we want to have a life here. We’ve been living here for three to four years.”
He added that he is not optimistic, saying that he is still in a state of shock over the treatment the Palestinians received.
ÚTL told reporters that those who had been denied residence permits were called to the meeting to tell them that the travel fees for voluntary deportation had been increased; if they refuse, they will be deported by force. Authorities in their home countries must agree to accept these asylum seekers, however, and Iraqi authorities have already refused to accept Kurdish refugees.
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