The majority of people living in Akureyri believe immigrants and refugees improve their town, the results of a new poll show.
The research was conducted by Professor Markus Meckl at the University of Akureyri. According to the findings of the poll, about 60% of respondents said that immigrants and refugees improve the town by living in it. Only 11% disagreed with the assertion, and about 30% had no position on the matter.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, whether or not an Icelander has experienced being an immigrant themselves played a significant role in these results. 81% of respondents who have lived overseas viewed foreigners in Akureyri positively, compared to only 54% of those who have only lived in Iceland. The longer a respondent lived abroad, the more likely they were to view foreigners positively.
Education also played a part, as the higher educational degree a respondent had achieved, the more likely they were to welcome foreigners to Akureyri.
Akureyri was amongst the first municipalities to ask the Icelandic government if they could house incoming refugees from Syria.
“The way we see it, if everyone shoulders this social responsibility, it’s possible we could solve this problem,” town council chairperson Guðmundur Baldvin Guðmundsson told reporters at the time.
Akureyri accepted 24 asylum seekers from the former Yugoslav Republic in 2003, and Guðmundur says all the families who came still live in Akureyri and have integrated well. He encourages other municipalities to take part in accepting more asylum seekers.