Iraqi refugee Nour Al-din Al-Azzawi returned to Iceland on Friday evening after a two-month stay in Greece. His friends in Iceland paid the travel cost. Al-Azzawi can stay in Iceland while his application for residence and work permit is being reviewed.
Al-Azzawi was deported to Greece on the basis of the Dublin Agreement at the protest of the Icelandic Red Cross and various individuals. As soon as he arrived in Greece, his friends began collecting money for him and were able to pay for a plane ticket back to Iceland, Fréttabladid reports.
While in Greece, Al-Azzawi decided to change his application for a political asylum in Iceland to an application for residence and work permit, which is easier to obtain. He has a girlfriend in Iceland and a job.
In Greece, Al-Azzawi didn’t stay in a refugee camp. “The first night they put me in prison in the airport and talked to me for five minutes the following day. I told them that I didn’t want to be an asylum-seeker in Greece. The made me sign something in Greek and told me that I was free. Since then I have been on the street; I slept in a church last night [Thursday night],” Al-Azzawi told Fréttabladid.
Acting director of the Icelandic Directorate of Immigration Rósa Dögg Flosadóttir said the directorate has not changed its policy on not allowing applicants for residence and work permits to be in Iceland while their application is being processed.
“This happens on a number of occasions. The law permits an exemption from the general rule that the applicant should be abroad while his or her application is being processed. An exemption was requested and it was granted,” Flosadóttir said.
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