Five families from Iraq, comprised of 21 people, arrived in Iceland yesterday as the first round of refugees the government has invited to live in the country.
Parliament decided last August to invite a total of 52 refugees to Iceland this year, Vísir reports. Later to come this year will be 10 queer refugees from Uganda and 21 individuals from Iraq who are currently in camps in Jordan, from where these five families were originally chosen.
Linda Rós Alfreðsdóttir, a specialist at the Ministry of Welfare, told reporters that their housing and other essentials have already been sorted. Soon after moving in to their new homes, they will begin Icelandic classes and start new lives. Some of the refugees in question have been on the run for as long as 11 years.
“They are very excited and have a lot of high hopes,” Linda said. “We know they’re very grateful to have gotten away from the situation. But we also know that this was a difficult journey. When you’ve been forced to leave the home that you love, it’s always a difficult journey.”
The Icelandic government regularly sets a quota for selecting refugees from refugee camps abroad for the year. Agreements are made between the national government and local authorities in order to set them up in various municipalities around the country. These families, for example, will be starting their new lives in Súðavík, Flateyri and Ísafjörður in the West Fjords, and Neskaupstaður and Reyðarfjörður in the east, RÚV reports.