A large crowd gathered yesterday to protest the deportation of children from Iceland. Authorities are currently handling two different deportation cases of Afghan families, including children. In one case, the single father Asadullah Sarwary is set to be deported with his ten and nine-year-old sons, Mahdi and Ali. The other case of deportation is the single mother Shahnaz Safari along with her 12-year-old son and 14-year-old daughter, Amir and Zainab.
The families have already received international protection status in Greece, and Icelandic authorities intend to deport the families based on that status. In both cases, Icelandic authorities intend to deport the families back to Greece, where conditions for children who have received international protection are deemed unfit for living by the Red Cross.
The demonstrators marched together from Hallgrímskirkja church towards Austurvöllur square, in front of Alþingi, the Icelandic Parliament. It is believed that a crowd of over 1000 showed up in solidarity for the families. So far this year, Icelandic authorities have denied 75 refugee children seeking international protection. On average, twelve children are denied international protection per month.
The planned deportations have been met with strong protests in Iceland, and there is mounting pressure on authorities and government to stop the deportations, and to abide laws. Many have called for the Minister of Justice Þórdís Kolbrún Reykfjörð Gylfdóttir to act right away. Unicef has released a statement reminding authorities that the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is in full effect and that the deportations are in violation of the convention. Along with this, Red Cross officials have called on the government to rescind the decision to deport the families, as well as Office of the Ombudsman for Children asking to discuss the matter with authorities.
Previously, Zainab’s classmates at Hagaskóli had demonstrated in support of her and in protest of the deportation.
In both cases, the deportations have been postponed due to the children suffering psychological breakdowns over the impending deportations. One of Asadullah’s sons experienced a psychological breakdown while Zainab’s daughter is believed to be on the verge of despondency should she suffer another setback. “Today was the most perfect day ever,” Zainab said in an interview with RÚV yesterday. Link here: https://www.ruv.is/frett/i-dag-var-besti-dagur-i-heimi