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W.O.M.E.N make discrimination appeal over charity

14.12.2020 - 13:40
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 Mynd: Samfylkingin
The association of women of foreign origin in Iceland (W.O.M.E.N.) has sent a formal request to the City of Reykjavík calling on the municipality to potentially cut all funding to the charity Fjölskylduhjálp Íslands next year, which provides support – especially in the form of food – to those in need. The charity stands accused of discrimination against people of different cultures and religions.

Heiða Björg Hilmisdóttir (pictured above), who chairs the city’s welfare council, tells RÚV the statement from W.O.M.E.N is being taken very seriously and will be kept in mind when it comes to the allocation of municipal funding to charities.

The statement followed coverage on Vísir and Stöð 2 of accusations against Ásgerður Jóna Flosadóttir, the director of Fjölskylduhjálp. The coverage included interviews with volunteers who said they had quit the charity after witnessing serious discrimination against people because of their religion. 

The statement from W.O.M.E.N especially emphasises that a similar controversy erupted around ten years ago, when the director of Fjölskylduhjálp was found to have made comments that could be construed as openly racist. 

The City of Reykjavík is asked to shoulder responsibility by launching an investigation into Fjölskylduhjálp and cancelling its funding, if the accusations prove to be true. 

Stopping short of accepting the statement and its request outright, Heiða Björg says the accusations are being taken seriously. “This statement from the association of women of foreign origin in Iceland is documentation that needs to be taken very seriously. These are serious accusations. We will keep it under consideration when it comes to allocating grants in the future,” she says. 

Ásta Þórdís Skjalddal Guðjónsdóttir, the director of Pepp, an association of people against poverty, tells RÚV the organisation has often helped people who have been poorly received, or been provided small amounts of food, at Fjölskylduhjálp. Ásta says some people have literally come to her crying about Ásgerður Jóna, the director of Fjölskylduhjálp, and that her manner has often been interpreted as racist or discriminatory against different religions. 

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Alexander Elliott
Fréttastofa RÚV