One month ago, the deportation of two Albanian families seeking asylum in Iceland caused a stir in local media. Today, these very same families are returning to Iceland after having been granted citizenship by the Directorate of Immigration.
Both families had sought asylum based on medical needs of a child with a terminal illness. In one case it was a heart condition and in the other, cystic fibrosis. The main reason for their coming to Iceland in the first place was to seek better medical treatment than was to be found in their native Albania.
Particularly because of the state of the children’s health, the public was roused to anger when the asylum seekers were deported. The situation was especially provoking because the families were forced to leave in the middle of the night, which struck many people as being inhumane and unfair. Once sent back to Albania, the families applied for citizenship to allow them to return to Iceland.
Protests and pressure put on the Icelandic government and Immigration on behalf of the Albanians lead to the Parliament taking up their case and eventually ruling to grant them citizenship. It has been a harrowing time, no doubt, but their journey comes to a resting point today when they land on Icelandic soil.
A fund was started in Iceland by friends of both families, generating ISK 4.5 million (USD 34,400), which will aid in covering travel costs, among other things. WOW Air offered to ferry the newly appointed citizens from Germany to Keflavik airport free of charge.