Government says it is looking at offers and will consider accepting more refugees after initially saying it would only take 50.
Ten thousand Icelanders have offered to welcome Syrian refugees into their homes, as part of a Facebook campaign launched by a prominent author after the government said it would take in only a handful.
After the Icelandic government announced last month that it would only accept 50 humanitarian refugees from Syria, Bryndis Bjorgvinsdottir encouraged fellow citizens to speak out in favour of those in need of asylum. In the space of 24 hours, 10,000 Icelanders – the country’s population is 300,000 – took to Facebook to offer up their homes and urge their government to do more.
“I’m a single mother with a 6-year-old son… We can take a child in need. I’m a teacher and would teach the child to speak, read and write Icelandic and adjust to Icelandic society. We have clothes, a bed, toys and everything a child needs. I would of course pay for the airplane ticket,” wrote Hekla Stefansdottir in a post.
The Ezadeen, a freight ship with an estimated 450 refugees on board, is towed by Icelandic Coast Guard vessel Tyr towards the Italian coast at the start of 2015 Photo: Icelandic Coastguard/EPA
“I think people have had enough of seeing news stories from the Mediterranean and refugee camps of dying people and they want something done now”, Bjorgvinsdottir told Icelandic public television RUV.
The Icelandic government is now looking at increasing its refugee quota.
Welfare Minister Eyglo Hardardottir told RUV that authorities were examining offers made on Facebook, and would consider upping the number of refugees accepted under a humanitarian quota.
“I have made it clear that I don’t want to name a maximum figure”, she said. “But we (will) explore every avenue available in welcoming more refugees”.
SOURCE: TELEGRAPH UK