Iceland & Ukraine: Ukrainian Refugees Might Not Get Full Help; Russian Trawlers Banned; Icelandair Loses Stock Value

Iceland & Ukraine: Ukrainian Refugees Might Not Get Full Help; Russian Trawlers Banned; Icelandair Loses Stock Value

Published March 9, 2022

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Arpingstone/Wikimedia Commons

Ukrainian refugees arriving in Iceland might not get the full rights and protections normally afforded to those seeking international protection in Iceland, RÚV reports.

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In related news, Russian trawlers are now barred from using Icelandic harbours, and Icelandair is feeling the pinch, much like other airlines.

As reported, Minister of Justice Jón Gunnarsson announced last Monday the activation of a special “emergency article” of the Law on Foreigners, which enables the reception of asylum seekers without having to compel them to go through the normal application process, which can often be protracted and complicated.

However, Pirate Party MP Þórhildur Sunna Ævarsdóttir pointed out yesterday that the government’s expressions of openness towards Ukrainian refugees is not necessarily reflected in what this emergency article actually grants them. RÚV reports that Iceland can expect some 1,500 Ukrainian refugees over the next few weeks.

“Refugees from Ukraine should have the right to apply for international protection that would give them secure housing for four years, would give them the right to family reunification, and would give them the right to work in Iceland,” she said in Parliament yesterday. “It would allow them to live on something other than the pittance allowance that financial support from municipalities would give them, which is what awaits Ukrainian refugees who don’t get work permits, who get a residence permit lasting just one year with the possibility of renewal,” adding that there is no guarantee that their residence permits will be extended beyond this point.

As such, Þórhildur said, this article actually grants Ukrainian refugees fewer rights than refugees have received in other ways, and no right to work.

In other news, Minister of Fishing and Agriculture Svandís Svavarsdóttir has announced that Russian trawlers will no longer enjoy an exception to Icelandic fishing law, which normally bars foreign ships who fish in Icelandic waters from docking in harbours in Iceland. Russian ships have been exempted from this law since 1999, despite repeated calls to revoke this exemption in recent years. An announcement on the Ministry’s website states that in light of the invasion of Ukraine, this exemption has now been revoked.

Lastly, the value of Icelandair’s stock has dropped precipitously since the start of the invasion of Ukraine, and has lost 32% of its value over this period of time. Trading of shares in the stock was heavy yesterday and the day before, suggesting sales accounting for a large portion of the volume.

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