“Safe Passage”ťťť vs dehumanization

Hello, dear people. Thank you for this opportunity. I am not an expert on the refugee matter in Europe. I would like, however, as a street priest, to witness from the reality that I am facing regarding the situation of asylum-seeking people here in Iceland.

As you know, generally speaking, asylum-seekers and refugees are often dehumanized. When we see photos of boats filled with refugees, when we watch videos in which thousands of refugees are walking holding small children, to borders, who can say that kind of situation is humane?

I have friends who are asylum seekers, and many of them have been living in Europe for 8, 9, or even longer than 10 years without sufficient civil rights. Is this situation humane?

Two Syrian refugees in Iceland are now about being deported to Bulgaria, just because they have come here through Bulgaria. Is this decision humane?

No, not at all. They are dehumanized. Maybe, this dehumanization of asylum seekers is not an accident. Dehumanization is a method we use when we don’t want to confront violations against humanity and want to leave the problem as it is.

Last Wednesday, a couple from Africa got negative answers from the appeal committee. They were in Italy and therefore Dublin-refugees. They came to Italy across the Mediterranean Sea on a boat as we see in the news. The husband lost his brother in the sea.

The ministry of the Interior gave a guideline last December, regarding sending refugees back to Italy. It says: “the living conditions for refugees in Italy are not good enough for delicate people such as children or ill people.” (Personally I insist to stop sending people back to Italy totally. This is the ministry’s view.)

Of the couple referred to the husband has infection in the lungs with very much pain and he has been on medication for nine months now. The decision from the appeal committee says, though: “The husband is a 29 years old man in good health, so his condition does not make him an ill person”.

The wife is expecting a baby in 5 months. She has miscarried three times before, including once when she arrived here. The decision from the appeal committee says: “The wife is in a delicate condition. Nevertheless she had got permission to stay in Italy, thus she has access to the health system there in Italy. It is, therefore, all right to send her back there”. Oh, she doesn’t have even a house to stay in Italy.

This is one of manifesting forms of the dehumanization that the asylum-seeking people are facing today, here in Iceland. Whatever the situation of each individual is, the authority has already decided to say “NO!”

We need to break down this dehumanization of asylum seeking people, if we want to insist The Safe Passage and make it come true. The attitudes that the Directorate of Immigration and the appeal committee are showing are not the consensus of the Icelandic people, I believe.

So, I ask you, dear people, to watch the things we are supposed to watch, hear voices that we are supposed to hear in order to recognize what is happening in our society, and finally to make an action that we are supposed to make.

Otherwise, we cannot defeat the cold blood evil of dehumanization. Let’s make The Safe Passage come true, by humanizing the dehumanized.
Thank you.

- At the gathering "Safe Passage Now" at the Lćkjatorg, February 27th 2016-

(Prestur innflytjenda) 

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