Fifty more refugees to Iceland expected by end of year

Some of the refugees arriving in January.

Some of the refugees arriving in January. Photo: Iceland Monitor/Eggert Jóhannesson

Up to fifty more Syrian refugees currently in camps in Lebanon are set to relocate to Iceland this year, under existing government plans.

A total of 48 refugees have already moved to Iceland in two waves so far this year, and a similar number is provided for in the second half of 2016, according to Linda Rós Alfreðsdóttir, expert at the Ministry of Welfare.

The Ministry is currently examining the reports sent by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) with information on the refugees it is proposing for Iceland. According to Alfreðsdóttir, this should take 3-6 weeks.

The town of Hveragerði.

The town of Hveragerði. Photo: Iceland Monitor/Sigurður Bogi Sævarsson

Once Iceland has completed this examination, the UNHCR will contact that individuals concerned and invite them on a 2½-day course on Iceland organised by the Icelandic government.

“The courses deals with what happens upon arrival in Iceland, and such things as rights and obligations, the education system, the health system, human rights, and so on,” Alfreðsdóttir explains.

While the plan is to receive this new group of refugees by the end of 2016, this cannot be guaranteed since many factors may affect the speed with which the process is concluded. New arrivals must receive travel documentation from the Icelandic Directorate of Immigration and travel authorisation from the Lebanese authorities.

Some of the refugees arriving in January.

Some of the refugees arriving in January. Photo: Iceland Monitor/Eggert

The Ministry will also have to enter into talks with the three communities earmarked as the destination for the new residents, i.e. the capital Reykjavik and the South Iceland towns of Árborg and Hveragerði.

The 48 Syrian refugees arriving earlier this year moved to the North Iceland town of Akureyri and the Greater Reykjavik municipalities of Kópavogur and Hafnarfjörður. According to Alfreðsdóttir, the communities and the Red Cross have dealt with the situation in a very caring way and new arrivals have settled in and adapted to Icelandic society even better than expected.

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