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Iceland: Proposal to Change Funding for Asylum Programs

(Aug. 29, 2011) Iceland's Minister of the Interior, Ögmundur Jónasson, recently proposed changing the way funding is allocated to support facilities for persons seeking asylum in the country. He argued that the current system, in which such funding is part of the budget of the Directorate of Immigration, is problematic. As the number of asylum seekers increases, the cost to the Directorate also increases, creating a situation he called “hazardous.” He proposed that the arrangement be changed in the next budget. (Iceland to Change Funding for Asylum Seekers, ICELAND REVIEW ONLINE (Aug. 26, 2011).)

Those seeking asylum in Iceland have in some cases taken extreme actions to express their frustration at the slowness of the process. In May 2011, an asylum seeker from Iran who had been in Iceland since 2005 threatened to set himself on fire inside the Icelandic Red Cross office; he was given psychiatric treatment. (Asylum Seeker Concerned About the Future, ICELAND REVIEW ONLINE (May 11, 2011).) Information on the numbers of refugees and asylum seekers in Iceland is available on the website of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. (Iceland: Statistical Snapshot, (last updated Jan. 1, 2011) [at right-hand side of page].)