The Icelandic government will devote about 2 billion ISK to refugee assistance, and will likely accept at least 100 Syrian refugees this year.
RÚV reports that the government will issue these funds over the next two years. The funding will go towards three separate areas where refugees are concerned: to better welcome the refugees brought to Iceland, to assist refugee relief efforts overseas, and to speed up the asylum seeker application process.
Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson was reluctant to give reporters an exact figure on the number of refugees Iceland will ultimately accept, but he did say that he expects “Iceland will accept over a hundred refugees this year”. This group is likely to arrive to Iceland in December, and will come primarily from refugee camps in Lebanon.
Iceland’s government, like other governments in Europe, has been under considerable pressure to act fast in taking in Syrian refugees, most of whom either live in deplorable conditions, are in danger for their lives, or both.
Minister of Welfare Eygló Harðardóttir says 25 Icelandic municipalities have already contacted the ministry, saying they are ready and willing to accept refugees. Over 1,000 Icelanders have volunteered to help the Icelandic Red Cross in the effort.
The public, grassroots drive to accept more refugees has overwhelming public support, with over 90% of Icelanders saying in a recent poll that the country should welcome more refugees. In addition, the Icelandic Red Cross has strongly recommended dropping the Dublin Regulation.
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