Eleven-year-old Haniye Maleki and her father Abrahim have been given asylum in Iceland, RÚV reports. The pair came to Iceland at the beginning of last year but were scheduled for deportation on the basis of the Dublin Regulation, which permits EU and EEA countries to return refugees to the first member country they entered and make them submit their asylum application there.
The father and daughter’s deportation was deferred last fall following a significant public outcry. For one, a psychological evaluation found that Haniye, who was born without any citizenship whatsoever, suffered from post-traumatic stress and depression, while Abrahim, who is originally from Afghanistan, is disabled. Their proposed deportation, alongside that of an eight-year-old Nigerian girl and her family, lead to high-profile public protests.
In the wake of these protests, Icelandic parliament passed a bill changing certain aspects of the law on foreigners, aimed at going further to protect the rights and wellbeing of children applying for asylum in Iceland. These changes included shortening the length of time that the Directorate of Immigration may take to process applications submitted on behalf of refugee children and also allow for residence permits to now be granted to children who previously applied for international protection but received no ruling on their application. It was thought that these changes would affect the status of 80 asylum-seeking minors in Iceland.
“Finally, after a long and difficult struggle that many of you took part in, [Haniye and Abrahim] will live in peace, tranquility, and freedom for the first time in a long time,” wrote Sema Erla Serdar, founder of the Solaris refugee and asylum seeker support organization, on a post on her Facebook page. “They can finally start to think about their future and other things that most of us take as a given. We are lucky to be able to offer this to them and can be proud of the fact that they want to be here.”