Long wait for asylum in Iceland ‘bad for people’

Ihtisham Ul Itaq from Afghanistan waited for one-and-a-half years for his asylum request to be processed by Iceland’s Directorate of Immigration. He was awarded a residence permit last year and says that the long waiting time has a terrible effect on people.

“It puts one off balance, morally, ethically and emotionally,” Ul Itaq told Visir.is. “Everybody wants to keep busy in life, but one is just stranded [as an asylum seeker]. Humans are social beings and when there is nothing to do, one does not know what to do with oneself. One gets bored and life becomes pointless,” he said.

At the Fitjar guesthouse, where asylum seekers are accommodated, Ul Itaq met Mehdi Kavyan Pour from Iran. Ul Itaq says it did not come as a surprise to learn that Pour had resorted to desperate measures on Friday morning at the Icelandic Red Cross headquarters (see here for more information). Pour has been waiting for a green light from the Directorate of Immigration for seven years.

“This is a time bomb, and one never knows. When one one is full of desperation, one can do stupid things,” Ul Itaq says.

Last year the Directorate of Immigration took an average of 234 days to clear asylum applications; 69 days fewer than in 2009.

No research has been carried out in Iceland into the mental state of asylum seekers. According to the Red Cross such research should be carried out urgently as it would help authorities to better understand the needs of asylum seekers.

(Photo: asylum seekers waiting at their guesthouse in Iceland // from RUV.is)

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