The results of a new poll show that most Icelanders believe authorities could be, and should be, doing much more than they currently are to help refugees.
Amnesty International reports that research marketing group Maskína conducted a poll on their behalf between July 22 and August 2, wherein respondents were asked how they feel about the effort of Icelandic authorities towards refugees, amongst other things. The results show that the government is falling decidedly short of the people’s expectations.
According to the results, 85.5% said they welcomed more refugees coming to Iceland, with 74% saying they believe Icelandic authorities should do more to help those who are fleeing war and persecution.
The results are especially interesting in light of the definitions of “refugee” and “asylum seeker”. Refugees, within an Icelandic context anyway, are selected by Icelandic authorities from refugee camps overseas within a specific number of people. Once brought to Iceland, both the national government and local authorities work together to get refugees integrated into society, such as through assistance with housing, schooling and work.
Asylum seekers, by contrast, arrive voluntarily to Iceland seeking protection from war and persecution. The majority of these applicants are not only rejected; many of their case files are not even opened, especially if the Directorate of Immigration invokes the Dublin Regulation – the international agreement which gives signatory countries the power, although not the obligation, to deport asylum seekers back to their previous point of departure if they have applied for asylum elsewhere.
As the poll responses indicate that most Icelanders believe authorities should do more to help everyone fleeing war and persecution, the results could be seen as applying to asylum seekers as much as they do refugees.