From Iceland — Ukrainian Asylum Seekers Offered Benefits Not Afforded To Other Nationalities

Ukrainian Asylum Seekers Offered Benefits Not Afforded To Other Nationalities

Published May 18, 2022

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Wikimedia Commons

The Icelandic government has been diligent in supporting asylum seekers from Ukraine, both adults and children alike, but this includes affording them benefits not granted to asylum seekers from other countries. An official from the Red Cross tells Vísir he has difficulty seeing any substantial reason for the difference in treatment.

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On May 12th, the government announced municipalities can apply for financial support from the state totalling 200,000 ISK per each child aged 0 to 18, provided they are from Ukraine. Some 1,000 Ukrainians have moved to Iceland from the start of 2022, and are fast tracked for asylum.

Comparatively, asylum seekers from Afghanistan, even in the wake of the Taliban having seized Kabul last November, while granted some additional assistance, are still left largely on their own with many questions left unanswered in terms of how or even if they can receive international protection in Iceland.

“Ukrainians have been very well received in Iceland by the government, and that’s great,” Atli Viðar Thorstensen, the department head for the international division of the Icelandic Red Cross, told reporters. “On the other hand, we have received information from asylum seekers from countries other than Ukraine that they feel they are being discriminated against.”

When asked about the monetary payment being granted solely towards Ukrainian asylum seekers, he said, “This honestly came as a bit of a surprise to us. We haven’t spoken with the minister directly, but we will be asking for more information on this as it’s difficult to see a substantial reason that asylum seekers from a specific nationality are treated better than others.”

Ásmundur Einar Daðason, the Minister of Education and Children’s Affairs, told reporters that the financial benefits being given are to help municipalities better deal with the large influx of Ukrainian refugees. That said, he added, “I think that this is an opportunity to do even better towards children of foreign origin and it is exactly right that children are always children, whether they come from Ukraine or elsewhere.”

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