21 Syrian Refugees Arrive In Iceland - The Reykjavik Grapevine

21 Syrian Refugees Arrive In Iceland

Published January 24, 2017

Photos by
UNICEF

Iceland welcomed more Syrian refugees yesterday, and they will be settled in two South Iceland towns.

Vísir reports that seven of these refugees, a married couple with five children, will be settled in Hveragerði, and the other 14 will be settled in Selfoss. Now, the process begins whereby the Icelandic Red Cross assists these refugees with integration.

Interestingly, the families that arrived yesterday have been in continuous contact with the Icelandic families who hope to help them – through Facebook.

“Facebook saves,” Red Cross in Iceland managing director Kristín S. Hjálmtýrsdóttir told reporters. “They have been in touch with one another and gotten to know one another a bit. This gives them a head start. Our Syrians, who came last year and earlier this year, are ready to get in touch with [the new arrivals] and connect them with others.”

Since the practice of inviting refugees to Iceland first began in 1956, and leading up to the arrival of Syrian refugees last January, 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.

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