Residence Permit Granted to Egyptian Family on Humanitarian Grounds Skip to content

Residence Permit Granted to Egyptian Family on Humanitarian Grounds

By Larissa Kyzer

Photo: Facebook.

Iceland’s Immigration Appeals Board has rereviewed the asylum application filed by the Khedrs, an Egyptian family of six whose planned deportation this month provoked extensive protests and a broader discussion of the government’s asylum review process. RÚV reports that the Khedrs will receive residence permits on humanitarian grounds, although the appeals board maintains that this is due to an unacceptable delay in the processing of their case, not because the family risks persecution if they are sent back to Egypt.

See Also: “They’re With Me”: Icelanders Campaign for Asylum Seeker Family on Social Media

The Khedrs were scheduled to be deported on September 16, but when the police arrived to escort the family to the airport, Ibrahim Khedr, his wife Dooa, and their four children were not at their place of residence. They went into hiding, with Icelanders showing their support for the family’s situation through protests, both in person and via the social media campaign #þaueruhjámér (they’re with me). The family has been in Iceland since August 2018, when they requested asylum on the grounds of political persecution due to the father’s involvement with the Muslim Brotherhood. As they have been in Iceland for more than two years, their case is controversial, in part because regulations state that families with children should be granted asylum on humanitarian grounds if they have to wait more than 16 months for an asylum application verdict.

See Also: Egyptian Family Not Deported, Whereabouts Unknown

“They can come out of hiding, we won this case,” the family’s lawyer, Magnús Davíð Norðdahl told reporters on Thursday. “The children can go back to school. This is fantastic news and now they can carry on with their lives.”

“This is a great victory for the family and, in my estimation, no less for Icelandic society, for the power of the collective, which often comes into play here. The family extends its many, many thanks to all of those who have supported them in this matter.”

Appeals board says family not at risk, but waiting period too long

Magnús petitioned for the immigration appeals board to reopen the family’s case after their deportation did not take place, stating that authorities had not done an independent and comprehensive assessment of the children’s best interest. He also said the Directorate of Immigration never investigated whether the mother and ten-year-old daughter were in a particularly sensitive position as over 90% of women in Egypt had suffered genital mutilation.

In its reinvestigation of the family’s situation, the appeals board stated that there had been no mention of the risk of genital mutilation in the original application, but that there were enough grounds to reinvestigate the family’s situation. They ultimately decided that the girl was not at risk of degrading or inhumane treatment upon return to Egypt. Nevertheless, the time period that the family had had to wait for their case to be adjudicated had extended beyond the allowable 16 months and as such, the Khedrs will receive residence permits on humanitarian grounds.

“It’s what any parents in the same situation would do”

Magnús says that he believes that public outcry against the family’s scheduled deportation played an important role in the decision to reopen their case and rereview their application for asylum. He also said that their decision to go into hiding was a desperate measure, and understandable given the circumstances.

“It’s entirely understandable. It’s what any parents in the same situation would do, but I believed that this situation would work out and so it has today.”

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