From Iceland — Iceland Still Mulling Over How To Accept Afghan Refugees

Iceland Still Mulling Over How To Accept Afghan Refugees

Published August 18, 2021

Andie Sophia Fontaine
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As larger countries such as the UK and Canada have already pledged to accept a set number of refugees fleeing Afghanistan, the matter is still in committee in Iceland.

Following the fall of Kabul, Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir was asked directly whether or not Iceland would be accepting more Afghan refugees. She told RÚV that the Minister of Social Affairs had called together the refugee committee to discuss the matter this week, but that it was definitely possible.

While Minister of Foreign Affairs Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson (above) told Vísir that they were prioritising retrieving any remaining Icelanders from Afghanistan, he was also asked if Iceland would be accepting Afghan refugees, and how many. He as well referred to the refugee committee.

Minister of Social Affairs Ásmundur Einar Daðason confirmed for Fréttablaðið that the committee was indeed going over the matter. Speaking with Vísir, committee chair Stefán Vagn Stefánsson said that the committee was still examining every angle before making a recommendation to Icelandic authorities.

“This is all happening very fast and there’s a lot of information coming in every day,” he said. “We’re also looking at how other countries are handling this.”

Speaking with RÚV, Erna Huld Ibrahimsdóttir, an Afghan woman living in Iceland, laid out in clear terms that Iceland needs to do its part in accepting Afghan refugees—a sentiment echoed by other Afghans in Iceland.

Erna says that Iceland needs to shoulder its responsibility in the matter, saying, “Why? Because Iceland is a part of NATO. And Icelanders took part in the invasion at the time. This is why Icelanders need to shoulder responsibility for the Afghan people, who are hurting, especially women and minorities.”

For the time being, the Icelandic government is still in the process of deciding how, and how many, Afghan refugees to accept. It also remains to be seen whether any of the Afghan asylum seekers currently in Iceland may be deported, as has happened many times before.

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