„Obvious that something out of the ordinary is going on“
A tourist office in Venezuela advertises Iceland as a great destination, offering incredible social rights. Educational and social systems are of high quality and the minimum wage ranges from 500 thousand to over 800 thousand ISK. A member of parliament sees the matter seriously.
The ad by the travel agency Air Viajes was recently posted on Instagram but has now been removed. Iceland is presented as a Nordic island known for its breathtaking landscape.
It is pointed out that traveling with the family to the country includes incredible privileges such as the availability of a weekly allowance during their stay. It is also stated that upon arrival, the government will provide the person with all the basic education needed.
Coming for economic reasons
Birgir Þórarinsson, MP and member of the Committee on the General Affairs and Education, says the matter is serious.
“I have had doubts that the large number of refugees arriving from Venezuela are actually refugees within the meaning of the law. I believe there is evidence that the people are looking to come here for economic reasons, because of the poor living conditions in their own country,” Birgir tells mbl.is.
He notes that in the last year, about 1,200 people entered the country from Venezuela, compared to about 80 people from Venezuela to Norway, for example.
“There is definitely something going on that is attracting people to the country beyond, for example, the other Nordic countries. This ad confirms, in my opinion, that it seems, if true, that there is a certain industry in Venezuela to encourage people to come to Iceland.” More people apply for protection from Venezuela than Ukraine.
Þórarinsson points out that before the case, he requested that the Immigration Appeals Board appear before the General Affairs and Education Committee to discuss the number of Venezuelan refugees in Iceland, which he says is excessive compared to other countries.
"I hope it will be soon, and then this notice is further cause for discussion with the committee."
More people from Venezuela than Ukraine
He states that Venezuelan refugees are granted an additional four-year protection, while Ukraine’s refugees are protected for one year.
“In the past few months, more people have applied for protection in this country from Venezuela than from Ukraine. So it is obvious that something out of the ordinary is going on that needs careful consideration and whether is an abuse of the system.
I had already discussed this with my colleagues in the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE), that I felt there was an abnormally high number of refugees here from Venezuela compared to other countries and my conversations with them confirmed that there was something out of the ordinary going on here that needed to be reviewed further,” says Þórarinsson, who is on the committee on behalf of Iceland.