Iceland Lets UN Know: We Are Ready For More Refugees - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Iceland Lets UN Know: We Are Ready For More Refugees

Published September 3, 2015

Photos by
UNICEF

The Minister of Welfare has taken the Icelandic people’s voice to the United Nations, letting them know the country is ready to accept more asylum seekers.

Minister of Welfare Eygló Harðardóttir visited the Facebook group that has been making international headlines this past week, “Dear Eygló Harðar: Syria Calling”, to post an update on her activities over the past few days.

Amongst the updates she had to report was that her ministry has let the UN High Commissioner for Refugees know that Iceland is now prepared to accept more refugees than the country initially asked for. She added that a committee has been formed within the ministry tasked with the sole purpose of make that project successful. Crucial to that will be the handing-over of documentation from those involved with the Facebook group and related parties, detailing which Icelanders have offered what kind of help. This data is expected to be given to the ministry on September 7.

As reported, public support has been quickly growing to accept more asylum seekers to Iceland. Minister of Welfare Eygló Harðardóttir, upon whom the situation ultimately rests, told Vísir that she does not want to set a “maximum number” of refugees that Iceland could accept. Responding to the outcry from the general public, she said, “I encourage people to get in touch with the ministry and the Red Cross and ask how they can help. People need jobs, shelter, and clothes, for example, and to learn how the banking system works. … I encourage people to get in touch with us and offer their help, because we can do a lot more.”

This led to a public outpouring of support, especially evident in the creation of a Facebook group called “Dear Eylgó Harðar”. Already, over 10,000 people have Liked the page, with many Icelanders publicly offering clothing, food, work and even places to live for the asylum seekers Iceland welcomes, however many they may be.

At the same time, refugee rights group No More Deportations believes the government should go much further.

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