Volunteers to Clean Up Hornstrandir

river water iceland

Another volunteer effort is underway to clean up debris and detritus from the shores of Hornstrandir, a virtually uninhabited peninsula in the far northwest of Iceland, Westfjords news service Bæjarins bestu reports.

An overnight stay

This marks the eleventh such effort over the years, with the last Hornstrandir clean-up taking place in 2019.

Volunteers will sail from Ísafjörður, the largest town in the Westfjords, on the morning of June 21st for Barðsvík, in Hornstrandir. Volunteers will begin picking up trash–typically fishing nets, broken buoys and related material–throughout the day and then staying overnight in tents.

Clean-up will resume the following morning before loading the garbage onto a ship. Volunteers will then sail back home, enjoy a barbecue, and arrive in Ísafjörður that evening.

A volunteer effort

This effort is conducted entirely by volunteers. At the moment, there are 25 spots available, and so those who are interested in the project have been encouraged to act fast.

Hornstrandir is a nature preserve, and the government has made repeated efforts to keep it as clean as possible. This includes some strict guidelines for those intending to visit the area, but you can see for yourself how beautiful the area is in this article about one of our visits there.

Iceland in Second Place for ILGA Europe “Rainbow Map”

A new report from ILGA Europe puts Iceland in second place in Europe when it comes to the rights of LGBTQIA+ people. This marks a significant climb from even last year, and from previous years.

Well above the average

The ILGA Europe report examines and assesses LGBTQIA+ rights in European countries on a number of criteria, including legislation, social attitudes, and related factors.

“With 83 points, Iceland jumped to second place with a rise of three places as a result of the new legislation banning conversion practices and ensuring the trans-specific healthcare is based on depathologisation,” the report notes.

In fact, Iceland’s position is well above the European Union average of 46.81%, and of Europe as a whole, at 41.56%. Iceland has been steadily climbing up the ranks since 2019, when it was at just 40.2%.

Good sides, and room for improvement

The report notes that Iceland has done exceptionally well in the areas of equality and non-discrimination, legal gender recognition, and civil society space. This in large part due to the Gender Autonomy Act, which encoded a number of rights for non-binary and binary trans people, and some protections for intersex people.

Iceland could stand to improve when it comes to intersex bodily integrity and asylum, ILGA Europe says. Their recommendations include “[i]ncluding express mention to all SOGIESC (sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, sex characteristics) grounds in policies designed to tackle hate crime”, “[i]ntroducing laws on asylum that contain express mention of all SOGIESC (sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, sex characteristics) grounds”, and “[r]eforming the prohibition of medical interventions on intersex minors to be universal”.

The full report on Iceland can be read here (.pdf).

Government Criticised for Deporting Human Trafficking Survivors

Útlendingastofnun directorate of immigration iceland

Stígamót, Iceland’s centre for survivors of sexual violence, has harshly condemned authorities for the deportation of four Nigerians last Monday, three of whom were women who are survivors of human trafficking. The centre is now working to help ensure their safety.

Had lived in Iceland for years

The women in question, Ester, Mary and Blessing, have lived in Iceland for anywhere from four to six years. They are all reportedly survivors of human trafficking, and sought asylum in Iceland. Their applications and their appeals were rejected by immigration authorities and, last year, they were stripped of even the most basic services, such as housing and food. Asylum seekers are forbidden by law from working.

They were arrested on May 10th and detained. Despite a medical examination that confirmed that Blessing has an abdominal tumour, and a certificate from a doctor stating that travel might endanger her life, the deportation was slated to go ahead as scheduled.

“Extremely worried”

“We’re at a new place in Iceland when we’re deporting survivors of human trafficking who’ve been living in Iceland for years,” Drífa Snædal, spokesperson for Stígamót, told Vísir, saying their treatment was “extremely inhumane”, and that they were denied visits from a psychologist or a priest.

“We are extremely worried about their welfare, and the responsibility of the Icelandic government is great for sending them away into uncertainty,” she said. “It is very likely that they will end up in human trafficking again.”

Following closely

Drífa says that in her estimation, deporting these women into uncertain circumstances constitutes a breach of international agreements that Iceland is party to.

“If survivors of human trafficking must be deported, their safety must be ensured at their arrival point,” Drífa said. “I don’t see that this has been done, but we’re actually working on that right now.”

That being said, she is not especially optimistic. The women are stopping Frankfurt but from there being sent to Nigeria.

“It is very important for their safety that someone accompanies them and ensures their safety as much as possible,” she said. “I don’t even know if that’s possible.”

Municipal Bus To Introduce Touch-Free System

Reykjavík city bus.

Strætó, the Reykjavík area public transit company, aims to at last introduce a touch-free payment system. Jóhannes Svavar Rúnarsson, the managing director of Strætó, says that the new system should be in place within the next two or three weeks.

Klappið app

Currently, payments for the city bus are done primarily through three methods: cash, the phone app Klapp or the printed bus card of the same name. The latter two use a QR code and scanner to process payments.

The initial launch of the app was not without its hiccups, and Jóhannes hopes that the new system will be easier for all involved, especially tourists.

“We’re pressing ahead diligently to get [the new system] done before the tourist season,” he told RÚV. “This is obviously comfortable for everyone, and simple for foreign tourists to pay fares on the bus.”

Testing before launch

Jóhannes says that they have been working with a supplier who is to provide Strætó with the touch-free system, meaning that passengers will be able to pay for fares with debit cards or the phones, through the use of Google Wallet and similar apps, much like one would pay for anything else in a shop.

“There are still a few things that need to be tweaked in order for this to be completely safe or work properly,” he said, adding that their supplier told them they should be able to start testing this new system within the next two or three weeks.