From Iceland — Call For More Municipalities To Welcome Refugees

Call For More Municipalities To Welcome Refugees

Published June 21, 2023

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According to the director of the welfare department in Reykjanesbær, the number of refugees in the municipality has rapidly increased, surpassing the infrastructure’s capacity to accommodate the growing population. Reykjanesbær receives a higher number of applicants for protection compared to most other municipalities, reports RÚV.

The municipality has already received a significant influx of individuals seeking protection in Iceland, and it has now reached its tolerance limit. Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, there has been a rapid increase in the number of refugees in Iceland. To address this situation, the Ministry of Social Affairs and the Labour Market have taken the initiative to rent several apartments in Reykjanesbær, primarily in Ásbrú, in order to provide accommodation for this group. The municipality has planned to allocate approximately 1,100 spots to accommodate refugees.

“It’s just simply too much and too fast,” says Hera Ósk Einarsdóttir, director of the welfare department in Reykjanesbær. She says she welcomes the diversity and the fact that a large part of the population is of foreign origin, but when such an increase occurs in such a short time, the services cannot keep up.

Helgi Arnarson, director of the education department in Reykjanesbær, agrees: “I don’t want to say that there is a definite limit in this matter. These are great challenges for the rest of the world, this situation that exists in the world, and we have a duty to participate in helping people who are looking for a better life. But there are 64 local authorities in Iceland, and I think that in fact all of them should be able to put their weight on the scales in some way. That’s what we’ve been calling for in Reykjanesbær.”

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