Icelandic Charity Criticized for Discrimination Skip to content

Icelandic Charity Criticized for Discrimination

The charity Fjölskylduhjálp Íslands (Iceland Family Aid), which distributes food packages to those who cannot afford groceries, has begun prioritizing native Icelanders above Icelandic residents of foreign origin. Their decision has been harshly criticized.

Minister for Social Affairs Árni Páll Árnason said at the Icelandic parliament, Althingi, yesterday that it is unacceptable that people of foreign origin are being discriminated against, Morgunbladid reports.

Every member of the Icelandic community requiring service and assistance to cover living expenses is entitled to it, the minister said.

MP for the Social Democrats Thórunn Sveinbjarnardóttir said the charity’s grouping of Icelanders and foreigners gives her the creeps.

Managing director of Fjölskylduhjálp Íslands Ásgerdur Jóna Flosadóttir said it isn’t correct that the charity is discriminating against foreigners. Single mothers and older people were prioritized during food distribution on Wednesday, she stated.

“We have often noticed that people with young children and older people […] give up on waiting,” Flosadóttir said in explanation of the prioritizing. She has requested a meeting with the Reykjavík City Welfare Council to discuss distribution regulations.

City councilmember Björk Vilhelmsdóttir submitted a resolution at the council’s meeting yesterday, which was approved, that Reykjavík City will not tolerate that its human rights policy is being violated.

“If it is true that Fjölskylduhjálp Íslands is discriminating against city dwellers of foreign origin action must be taken,” the resolution reads. The matter will be investigated.

Fréttabladid reported yesterday that Fjölskylduhjálp Íslands had divided people into two lines during its food distribution on Wednesday, one for Icelanders and one for foreigners and Icelanders were given food first.

“We are not going to stand by and watch when older people, who have worked hard their entire lives, have to leave because of the inroad of foreigners, many of whom only have a residence permit and don’t receive benefits,” Flosadóttir commented.

She said foreign queuing culture is different from that in Iceland. Brawny Polish men show up early in the morning and later in the day others join them in the queue. “It is a certain survival instinct,” Flosadóttir added.

Flosadóttir stressed that everyone received food on Wednesday as usual and that foreign single mothers had also been prioritized.

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