Asylum seekers in Iceland demonstrated in front of parliament today, Kjarninn reports. The demonstration, organised by No Borders Iceland, started at 16.00pm at Hallgrímskirkja, with protestors walking from the church to Austurvöllur, situated in front of Iceland’s parliament. The protestors demanded the Icelandic government cease deportation of asylum seekers and that they receive due process. They also called for the termination of Iceland’s involvement in the European Union’s controversial Dublin Regulation, as well as the dismantling of the Directorate of Immigration’s Ásbrú camp for asylum seekers.
Ásbrú is situated near Keflavík International Airport. In 2017 the Directorate of Immigration started housing asylum seekers there, a move No Borders Iceland criticises, saying asylum seekers are isolated at Ásbrú and kept out of sight. The organisation says that around 11 asylum seekers were deported from Ásbrú every week in 2018.
Furthermore, the organisation calls for asylum seekers to be able to apply for a temporary work permit whilst they await due process. They also lament that asylum seekers are without an Icelandic social security number whilst they wait, making everything from seeking medical assistance to securing proper housing all but impossible.
Iceland’s Directorate of Immigration handled 790 applications from asylum seekers in 2018, compared to 976 in 2017. Of those 790, 406 applications received procedural treatment, with 111 receiving priority treatment. In the end 152 asylum seekers were deported based on the Dublin Regulation, 70 people were denied stay based on their having already received protection in another country and 162 withdrew their application or did not follow through in one way or the other.
According to the Directorate of Immigration, out of those 406 applications that received treatment, a total of 160 individuals received international protection, additional protection or residence permits due to humanitarian reasons in 2018, while 246 were deported. No officials numbers have been issued for 2019.
The Dublin Regulation, criticised by No Borders Iceland, has long been a controversial system. According to the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) the current system has failed to provide fair, efficient and effective protection, impeding the legal rights and personal welfare of asylum seekers.