Puff-Inn Welcomes Seabirds for Five-Star Stay

A new hotel is opening by the small town of Borgarfjörður eystri, East Iceland, but if you’re reading this article, its lodgings are probably not available in your size. The Lundahótel, or Puff-Inn, is a project hatched by illustrators Elín Elísabet Einarsdóttir and Rán Flygenring, offering luxury accommodations to Iceland’s most beloved birds. Iceland Review spoke to the artists as they were putting the finishing touches on the facilities, located at the farmstead Höfn, just east of the town.

The two artists opened a puffin shop last year at the same location, an answer to Iceland‘s many tourist shops filled with puffin-themed tchotchkes. “We made all sorts of puffin-related merchandise that was not for sale and were thinking a lot about the relationship between puffins, people, and puffin stores,” Rán told Iceland Review over the phone. “Opening a hotel is a logical continuation of that.”

https://www.instagram.com/p/CQ9i1K4gatN/

“The puffin is the symbol of tourism in Iceland but it’s in danger,” Elín says, explaining that human-caused global warming is pushing the bird’s food source north and the puffins are following. “A hotel would be a good way to provide them with refuge.” Early birds can dine on the hotel’s breakfast buffet, complete with sardines and herring (humans are also welcome), and guests will enjoy all the usual offerings of luxury lodgings: “Bathrobes and postcards.”

The Puff-Inn is located by the town harbour across the road from a puffin colony, and the artists admit their new facilities are more of a “staycation” for the birds. Their feathered neighbours are nevertheless are showing interest in the hotel on their doorstep, say the two illustrators, as are the local townsfolk. While there are currently no rooms available for human guests, Rán says they’re welcome to make a booking for a friend of the puffin persuasion.

Rather than the traditional rooms, the Puff-Inn offers burrows to its guests. “We plan to offer burrows of various sizes so birds of all kinds can come and stay,” Elín adds. “All birds are facing difficult circumstances due to human causes, so we hope they all stop by for a visit.”

Interested people and avians can follow the hotel on Instagram.

Asylum Seekers Arrested at Immigration Office

asylum seeker arrest refugees in iceland

Two asylum seekers were arrested at a Directorate of Immigration office in the capital area yesterday. The two men, who are from Palestine, went to the Hafnarfjörður office to pick up vaccination certificates and were arrested shortly after their arrival. They are set to be deported to Greece.

The arrest was first reported on by Refugees in Iceland, a self-organised group of activists and refugees. “Just a moment ago two young Palestinians were violently arrested at the immigration office (ÚTL) in Bæjarhraun 18,” a post made on the Refugees in Iceland Instagram page yesterday reads. “They came to Bæjarhraun in good faith, since the immigration office had told them that their vaccination certificate had been issued and that they could come and pick it up. At their arrival at the immigration office the staff there called the police, which came with six cars, along with the special forces, eye witness say [sic]. They were then told that they were now ready to be deported to Greece.”

According to the post, the two men were “violently arrested and beaten.” Refugees in Iceland reports that one witness tried to record the arrest on their phone, which was then confiscated by police, who deleted the content.

Directorate of Immigration Communications Officer Þórhildur Hagalín told Vísir the Directorate would not comment on the incident and directed questions to the National Police Commissioner. The Commissioner’s Chief Legal Officer Helgi Valberg Jensson told the outlet that the Commissioner’s supporting department had been executing the Directorate of Immigration’s request for deportation from Iceland but that the Commissioner’s Office could not otherwise comment on specific cases. Helgi did not respond to questions regarding police behaviour witnesses reported from the scene, including excessive use of force, use of electric shock, and tranquilisers.

In May 2021, the Directorate of Immigration revoked housing and food allowances from around 20 men, mostly from Palestine, after they refused to undergo the COVID-19 testing required for their deportation. The Immigration and Asylum Appeals Board recently ruled the action as prohibited and the asylum seekers were again offered access to basic services. Lawyer Magnús Norðdahl, who represents a few of the men in the group, stated the Directorate acted “unlawfully and inhumanely,” and called on the institution to take responsibility and apologise for the action.

Icelandic authorities deport asylum seekers to Greece on the basis of the Dublin regulation. The Council of Europe, the Red Cross, and many human rights organisations have deemed living conditions in Greece to be unfit for refugees, who often lack access to basic services there including healthcare, housing, and education.

In 2018, the Immigration and Asylum Appeals Board criticised the Directorate of Immigration’s procedures, stating there were “systemic deficiencies in the handling of cases” at the institution.