Repeated Calls to Government to Stop Deportation of Disabled Child Skip to content

Repeated Calls to Government to Stop Deportation of Disabled Child

By Andie Sophia Fontaine

Protest against 11-year-old Yazan Tamimi's deportation, June 23, 2024
Photo: Jelena Ćirić. Protest against 11-year-old Yazan Tamimi’s deportation, June 23, 2024.

Another protest was held yesterday imploring the immigration authorities to reverse its decision to deport Yazan Tamimi, an 11-year-old Palestinian boy with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, and his family back to Spain. Numerous disabled rights have echoed these sentiments, stating that to deport him would be detrimental to his health, and a violation of international treaties.

A year in Iceland

Yazan came to Iceland with his family about a year ago, via Spain. The Directorate of Immigration is essentially deporting the family for this reason; the Dublin Regulation gives signatory countries the right – although, importantly, not the obligation – to send asylum seekers back to their previous point of departure.

The disability rights and childrens’ rights groups Þroskahjálp, the Duchennes Society of Iceland, Unique Children in Iceland and Rights of Refugee Children have all issued statements in support of Yazan. Þroskahjálp in particular issued a statement pointing out that Iceland is a signatory country to both the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, both of which arguably supersede the Dublin Regulation.

An incurable illness

Duchenne muscular dystrophy is a severe form of muscular dystrophy, particularly targeting boys, with most children needing to use a wheelchair by age 12. Yazan already uses a wheelchair. There is no known cure, with most people afflicted by it having a life expectancy of around 25 years. There are, however, treatments available that can help alleviate its symptoms and improve quality of life, and those treatments are available in Iceland.

The family has no ties to Spain, has never lived there, and if they are deported there, it is uncertain how they would be able to manage. Guðjón Reykdal Óskarsson, the leading Icelandic doctor on Duchenne, recently told RÚV: “I find it strange that doctors at the Directorate of Immigration say that this is not a serious illness. If you have gone through medical school, and I have gone through pharmacology and genetics, every single textbook names this illness as particularly serious. When I heard he would be deported I was filled with fear.”

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