A contract has been signed between the government and the Icelandic Red Cross to reduce the amount of time asylum seekers have to wait for a decision.
Hanna Birna Kristjánsdóttir, Icelandic interior minister, and Hermann Ottósson, head of the Icelandic Red Cross, yesterday signed a new contract on services to asylum seekers. As well as speeding up the asylum process, the contract also promises to improve working methods and ensure the best possible use of financial resources.
According to a statement, the agreement is designed to ensure real changes in immigration procedures and ensure impartial and independent justice for all asylum seekers in order to protect equal rights. Emphasis is placed on procedures and shortening the processing of applications of asylum seekers, which has taken up to two or three years recently. The aim is that this time will not be longer than 90 days on average, as of August 25, 2014.
According to Hanna Birna, the changes have been a long time in the making, and the agreement means the Red Cross will become the official main partner of the ministry in asylum issues. “The involvement of the Red Cross in these projects has great significance, not only because of the knowledge and experience the organization has in matters relating to immigration, but also because of the values and professionalism that characterize the work of the organization,” she said. “This is a major milestone in this area and we can subsequently secure asylum seekers better, and more efficient, services, as well as utilization of financial resources.”
The Red Cross will regularly assess the conditions asylum seekers find themselves in, regularly visit them and provide social services under the new contract. The Red Cross will also temporarily take charge of protecting the interests of asylum seekers with their applications for asylum. This temporary role includes providing instructions and information at the reception center, being on hand for one-on-one interviews and participation in identifying particularly vulnerable asylum seekers, Vísir.is reported.