Iceland people open arms to Syrian refugees

Iceland citizens respond to Syrian refugees with open arms although government welcomes only 50

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

Refugees seen aboard an Iceland Coast Guard vessel near Sicily, southern Italy, May 6, 2015.

Iceland government recently announced that it can accept only 50 Syrian refugees, but in response to this number, a leading Icelandic author, Bryndis Bjorgvinsdottir, posted an open letter on Facebook titled "Syria is calling," encouraging concerned Icelanders to use the page to communicate with welfare minister.

More than 12,000 Icelanders most of whom offered hosting Syrian families have responded to the letter.

Translated by the Iceland Review, some of the posts on Facebook said, “I’m happy to look after children, take them to kindergarten, school and wherever they need," or "I can cook for people and show them friendship and warmth. I can pay the airfare for one small family. I can contribute with my expertise and assist pregnant women with prenatal care.”

Icelandic Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson said he may appoint a special committee to look into how the country can respond to the mounting public pressure, the Guardian reported.

The minister added, “It has been our goal in international politics to be of help in as many areas as possible and this is one of the areas where the need is most right now," to Icelandic outlet RÚV.

According to the United Nations Refugee Agency, many neighbouring countries including Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan have opened up borders to help feed and house the Syrian refugees.  

Turkey is the leading country to host Syrians with almost 2 million while 1 million are in Lebanon and nearly 630,000 are in Jordan, with tens of thousands more arriving every month.

Refugees who made their way to some other European countries have faced difficulty passing the border.

Some citizens in Germany and Ireland held riot protests to call their governments to keep the refugees away from their country.  

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon last week called the world countries for "much more" action to address the refugee crisis after dozens of bodies were discovered in an abandoned truck near the Austrian border.

"I appeal to all governments involved to provide comprehensive responses, expand safe and legal channels of migration and act with humanity, compassion and in accordance with their international obligations," Ban said in a statement.


TRTWorld and agencies