From Iceland — Government Agrees To Accept More Refugees

Government Agrees To Accept More Refugees

Published May 24, 2016

Andie Sophia Fontaine
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The Icelandic government has just agreed to accept another group of Syrian refugees from Lebanon, who are due to arrive later this year.

RÚV reports that while the exact number of refugees to be accepted has not as yet been determined [UPDATE: RÚV reports there will be 40 arriving later this year], they will be situated in Reykjavík, Árborg and Hveragerði.

These municipalities were recommended by the Refugee Committee on account of them all having active divisions of the Icelandic Red Cross, who provide considerable social assistance to refugees getting settled in. Employment and schooling opportunities were also included in the decision.

Iceland accepted 35 Syrian refugees earlier this year, who were then settled in Kópavogur and Akureyri.

The Icelandic Red Cross said last year that they advise Iceland accepts 200 refugees over the course of 2016 and 2017. This number, they say, is both affordable and feasible, provided there is housing and related services available for incoming refugees distributed over several municipalities.

At the same time, the Icelandic Red Cross points out that Iceland is still accepting proportionately fewer refugees than other Nordic countries. Since the practice first began in 1956, and leading up to the most recent arrival of Syrian refugees this month, Iceland has accepted a grand total of 584 refugees.

The largest single arrival of refugees was 75 people, all of them from Kosovo, in 1999. The smallest group to be invited to Iceland in a single year was comprised of 5 people in 2014, who hailed from Zimbabwe, Cameroon, Uganda and Syria. 13 refugees, from Syria, were brought to Iceland last year.

Comparing Iceland’s total number of refugees with that of other Nordic countries reveals some distinct differences. According to data from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, there are some 17,785 refugees in Denmark, 142,207 in Sweden and 47,043 in Norway.

Even by very conservative estimates of presuming that all 584 of Iceland’s total refugees invited still live in Iceland, this is still only 0.18% of the total population. By contrast, refugees comprise 0.32% of the population of Denmark, 1.48% of the population of Sweden, and 0.93% of the population of Norway.


So What’s This I Keep Hearing About Icelanders Welcoming Refugees Into Their Homes?

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