All of the Syrian refugees brought to Iceland last year are reportedly integrating well into Icelandic society, and local authorities are continuing efforts to help new arrivals get settled as well, although challenges remain.
Of the 56 Syrian refugees who arrived last year, all 32 children are in school, but only four of the 24 adults are in steady work.
Margrét Arngrímsdóttir, the project manager and counselor for refugees for Kópavogur, told Vísir that 14 Syrian refugees – six adults and eight children – were settled in the capital area town last year. She says that language has proven the greatest obstacle in finding work for these adults; none of them speak Icelandic yet, and only one speaks English. That said, many of these adults are in job training alongside their Icelandic classes.
There have been similar stories in other municipalities around the country, such as Hafnarfjörður and Akureyri: children are all attending school, learning Icelandic quickly and making friends. However, while many of the adults have university educations, it is always difficult for adults to learn new languages, which is a considerable stumbling block to getting work in Iceland.
The integration of refugees into Icelandic society is largely conducted by municipalities. These integration efforts take numerous forms. For example, south Iceland news service Sunnlenska reports that the Hamar Sports Society in Hveragerði will offer free admission to Syrian children to participate in sports activities there, and the Lion’s Club has donated child car seats to Syrian families.