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Asylum Seekers Protest Long Wait in Iceland

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Asylum Seekers Protest Long Wait in Iceland

Syrian refugees. Photo: UNHCR.

A group of asylum seekers protested the long processing time of their applications for asylum in Iceland outside the Ministry of the Interior yesterday. Among protestors was Feriane Amrouni, a single mother of three from Algeria, who has waited almost two years for a response.

“I was a journalist in Algeria and lived under very poor conditions. I came here to guarantee my children’s safety,” Amrouni told Fréttablaðið at yesterday’s demonstration. The sign she carried, read “I am mother. My children need future.”

“We have grown tired of the authorities ignoring us. No one wants to talk to us. We don’t get any answers,” added Adam Ibrahim Pasha, another protestor.

The Directorate of Immigration rejected his application for asylum last October and he appealed the decision the same month. According to the Ministry of the Interior’s regulations, Pasha was supposed to receive a reply within three months, but he has yet to receive a response.

“I ask you to be patient. I know I’m asking for a lot but I cannot promise anything. These cases have only recently been relocated here and we are familiarizing ourselves with them. Some cases will be concluded this month. I wish I could give you a date but I cannot,” said Hjörtur Bragi Sverrisson, chair of the committee handling appeals, who came outside to talk with the protestors.

Hjörtur was appointed chair of the committee on January 14. The committee is currently handling 105 cases. Most of these are from 2014 but some are from 2013. The oldest cases will be prioritized, Hjörtur said.

“I find it important that there is a dialogue between asylum seekers and those who process their cases. I was happy about talking with them and understanding their viewpoint better,” Hjörtur concluded.

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