Deporting children is “not something that we want to stand for as a society,” Iceland’s Minister of Children’s Affairs Ásmundur Einar Daðason stated when asked about the case of two Palestinian children who are set to be deported from Iceland. The Directorate of Immigration plans to deport the two boys to Greece, but the Minister has asked to receive more information about their cases.
Cousins Samir (12) and Yazan (14), came to Iceland in April after a dangerous voyage and six months in a refugee camp in Greece. They were sent from Palestine around one year ago by their families along with their 30-year-old uncle in hopes of a better life. Upon arriving in Iceland, they were both placed with foster families, as authorities believed there were grounds to investigate whether they were victims of human trafficking, which turned out to not be the case.
The boys have been living with two separate, but related, Icelandic families and also have relatives here in the country who received protection several years ago and have adapted to life in Iceland. The boys’ immediate families live in Gaza, where they are now under constant threat due to Israel’s ongoing attacks.
Directorate of Immigration to deport boys
A little over a month ago, Sameer and Yazan received the news that Iceland’s Directorate of Immigration was not going to take their cases into substantive consideration as the boys had already received international protection in Greece. They were ordered to leave the country along with their uncle, who is their registered guardian. The ruling has been appealed.
Reports from Amnesty International and statements from the Icelandic Red Cross have condemned the living conditions faced by refugees in Greece. Refugees in the country have difficulty accessing healthcare and housing and face ill-treatment from law enforcement officials even in cases where they have been granted international protection.
Family’s neighbourhood in Gaza destroyed
The Gaza neighbourhood where the cousins’ families live was destroyed by air strikes around one week ago, and two days passed before they received news that their parents and siblings were alive. The two boys have expressed their desire to stay in Iceland. “Icelanders cannot stop this war, but what we can do for people is to ease their worries about being deported tomorrow or the next day, or next week. That they don’t also have to deal with that,” Yazan’s foster parent Hanna Símonardóttir told RÚV.
Minister of Children’s Affairs Ásmundur Einar Daðason stated that his ministry had requested information on the case, but did not want to comment further on it until he had reviewed that information. Nearly 10,000 petitioners are calling on Icelandic authorities to grant the boys, and all Palestinians in Iceland, protection.