Status of Afghans Offered Asylum Iceland Uncertain Skip to content

Status of Afghans Offered Asylum Iceland Uncertain

By Larissa Kyzer

Ministry for Foreign Affairs
Photo: Geraldshields11, Creative Commons 4.0.

An estimated 120 Afghans have been offered asylum in Iceland but thus far, officials have only managed to get in contact with 40 of these individuals. RÚV reports that among those Iceland is opening its doors to are Afghans who have worked for NATO and also students who have studied in Iceland as part of GRÓ, the Gender Equality Studies and Training Programme, which operates under the auspices of UNESCO.

“The situation [in Afghanistan] is very difficult, to say the least, both in the country in general and also at the airport [in Kabul],” said Sveinn H. Guðmarsson, information officer for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “I can’t totally say how many people have managed to get to the airport and through the gate. But we have been in contact with around 40 people.”

Sveinn said that it is not yet possible to say when the first Afghan asylees will arrive in Iceland, but authorities are working against the clock. “…[T]he Taliban have stated very clearly that the foreign force that is keeping the airport running will not get any further extensions beyond the end of this month. So the window is closing.” He said that staff have been working through the night to facilitate the process.

Sveinn added that the main challenge has been getting people to the airport. News outlets such as the BBC have reported that some Afghans who were set to leave the country have “abandoned their plans for now…nervous after the Taliban said they didn’t want Afghanistan’s people to leave.” Thus far, however, Sveinn said that he is not aware of any Afghans who have been invited to come to Iceland deciding not to do so out of fear for their safety.

Sveinn also noted that while the current number of Afghans who are assumed to be coming to Iceland is around 120, this figure, which was arranged in collaboration with NATO, is by no means fixed. There are no specific names or ID numbers attached to that figure, he explained. “That’s just a reference number.”

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