Immigrants Over 14% of Population

Polish Mini Market Breiðholt

Immigrants in Iceland numbered 50,727 as of January 1, 2019, or 14.1% of the population. This represents a significant increase from the previous year’s figure of 12.6%. The number of second-generation immigrants also rose from 4,861 in 2018 to 5,263 in 2019. The data comes from Statistics Iceland.

People born in Poland were the largest group of immigrants in 2019, as in previous years, numbering 19,172 as of January 1 of this year, or 38.1% of the total immigrant population. The second largest group were immigrants born in Lithuania (2,884), followed by those born in the Philippines (1,968).

As of January 1, 2019, 63.6% of first- and second-generation immigrants were living in the Reykjavík capital region. The region with the highest proportion of immigrants was, however, the Southwest, with 26.6% of its residents being first- or second-generation immigrants. The Westfjords came second, with just under 20% of residents falling into these categories.

Statistics Iceland defines an immigrant as an individual born abroad with both parents and all grandparents also foreign born. A second-generation immigrant is born in Iceland to immigrant parents. A person with foreign background has one parent of foreign origin.

The full report is available in English on Statistics Iceland’s website.

Duterte Considers Cutting Diplomatic Ties With Iceland

Rodrigo Duterte.

President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte has stated he is considering cutting diplomatic ties with Iceland, Al Jazeera reports. The reason is a resolution that Iceland initiated asking the United Nations to investigate the deaths of thousands of people under Duterte’s so-called “war on drugs.” Philippine police have stated that at least 6,600 have been killed in the first three years of Duterte’s presidency, exclusively in shootouts with police. Rights groups assert, however, that the number of deaths has surpassed 20,000 since 2016.

“Seriously considering cutting diplomatic relations”

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo told reports that the UN resolution, which was adopted by vote last week, showed “how the Western powers are scornful of our sovereign exercise of protecting our people from the scourge of prohibited drugs.” He added that the Philippine President was “seriously considering cutting diplomatic relations with Iceland,” and called the resolution “grotesquely one-sided, outrageously narrow, and maliciously partisan.”

Filipino-Icelanders fear reprisals

Lilja Védís Hólmsdóttir is from the Philippines and has lived in Iceland for 20 years. She is the representative for Filipinos in Iceland in a larger European Filipino Association and celebrates Iceland’s initiation of the UN resolution. She told Fréttablaðið, however, that there are Filipino-Icelanders who support Duterte “almost unfailingly.”

According to Statistics Iceland, around 1,900 Filipinos live in Iceland. Many of those to whom Fréttablaðið spoke requested not to be named, fearing reprisals from their government. “This is very sensitive and you have to be careful,” one interviewee stated. “People have been killed for this. I’m going to the Philippines soon and I don’t want to be stopped at the airport because of what I say.”

Philippine Minister of Foreign Affairs Against Iceland-Led Investigation

Teodoro Locsin Jr

In a United Nations Human Rights Council meeting yesterday, Iceland proposed that the Philippine war on drugs be investigated. The proposition is supported by 28 other nations and led by Iceland. The proposition has been met with resistance from the Philippines, most notably when Philippine Minister of Foreign Affairs Teodoro Locsin Jr. tweeted that he believed Iceland would now receive a hefty payout from Philippine drug gangs following the proposition, along with other supporting countries.

The proposition accounts for a full inspection into the status of human rights in the Philippines, as well as an investigation into the war on drugs currently ongoing in the country led by president Duterte. The non-governmental organization Human Rights Watch has condemned the minister’s tweet and says this it reflects the desperate position Philippine authorities find themselves in, as well as an attempt to whitewash their part in the disgusting war on drugs.

A recent report from Amnesty International reveals that illegal executions and misuse of power are by now a dangerous and an accomplished habit in the Philippines. 6000 people have been murdered during President Rodrigo Duterte’s reign, as part of his ongoing war on drugs.

Lucsin Jr. has repeatedly declared his support of Duterte’s drug policy. On Twitter, he has previously compared the war on drugs to the so-called final solution that the Nazis and the Third Reich proposed to the “Jew problem”.

Votes will be cast on Iceland’s proposition today. The proposition involves encouraging Manila authorities to ensure that all measures be taken to stop illegal executions and forced disappearances. The Philippine government is also asked to start independently investing the situation in the country as well as accepting international inspection agents. Furthermore, the proposition calls for authorities to bring those responsible for human rights violations to justice.

47 countries in total have a right to vote on the human rights council. The Philippine representatives have protested the proposition heavily and repeatedly left the area when it is being discussed. Philippine authorities believe that the proposition is a harsh attack on the country’s independence. They state that President Duterte enjoys overwhelming support in the country and has a right to fulfil his drug policy. In fact, Philippine authorities have accused Iceland of hypocrisy.

London to Reykjavík Flight Passengers Exposed to Measles

Passengers flying from London to Reykjavík on February 14 and on Air Iceland Connect from Reykjavík to Egilsstaðir may have been exposed to the measles during their flights, RÚV reports. Iceland’s Chief of Epidemiology has been in touch with all the passengers who were onboard both flights, and those passengers who show any symptoms of the measles are encouraged to seek medical attention, particularly those who have never been vaccinated against it.

The affected flights were Icelandair FI455 and Air Iceland Connected NY356. Icelandair spokesperson Ásdís Ýr Pétursdóttir has confirmed that one passenger, who was travelling from the Philippines, has been infected with the measles. This discovery then initiated a standard protocol in collaboration with the Chief of Epidemiology regarding passenger notification.

People who may have been exposed to the virus are advised to be on the lookout for fever, cold symptoms, red eyes, and/or a rash. The website for the Directorate of Health advises any passengers on board either of the effected flights to be on the lookout for symptoms until March 7. The announcement also states that individuals with the measles are only contagious after symptoms begin to manifest and are then contagious for 7 – 10 days afterwards. In general, measles symptoms manifest 10 – 14 days after initial infection, but can still do so after as long as three weeks.

People who have already been vaccinated against the measles need not be vaccinated again, but those who have not, may be vaccinated within six days of infection. Measles vaccinations are available at local health clinics.

This is not the only time that a passenger has travelled through Iceland with the measles virus of late. In June, a passenger flying from Ukraine to Toronto via Berlin and Reykjavík was also found to have had the virus, triggering a similar notification from the Chief of Epidemiology and a vaccination advisory.

The Chief of Epidemiology considers it unlikely that there will be an outbreak of the measles in Iceland, as 95% of the Icelandic public is vaccinated against the virus.