As Fréttablaðið reports, the Church of Iceland issued a resolution condemning the immigration office for withdrawing housing and food assistance for asylum seekers who are to be deported. Aid was taken from 14 men, most of them Palestinian, after they refused to undergo the COVID-19 tests as a condition for their deportation to Greece.
Hundreds of people took part in a protest in Reykjavik to support the group last Saturday.
These men were also denied access to other services, including health care, with at least one reporting that the visit to the doctor had been canceled following the authority’s decision to withdraw benefits. Most of these men are from Palestine, others from Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.
The Immigration Directorate aims to deport them to Greece, where they have received international protection. Asylum seekers entering Europe often do so via Greece and consequently receive international protection in that country, which allows (but does not oblige) other European countries to deport them back to Greece. The Council of Europe, the Red Cross and many human rights organizations have found living conditions in Greece unsuitable for refugees who often do not have access to basic services, including health, housing and education. Palestinian men in this group released a statement pleading with the government to reconsider their cases.
“It is highly reprehensible that the Icelandic government uses force and intentionally makes people homeless in a society that is committed to Christian values and human rights. It is also unacceptable to send people to places that are by no means safe, as indicated by many international reports. These people can only make one decision – in which country they want to be homeless “ – Read in a church statement urging the Minister of Justice, Áslaug Arna Sigurbjörnsdóttir, and the Director General of the Immigration Directorate to take immediate action to reverse this decision.