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Over 12,000 People in Iceland Have Offered to Accommodate Syrian Refugees

All of Europe is standing idle, divided, and without a solution for how to accommodate an entire nation of people threatened by a brutal civil war that’s now halfway through its fifth year.


Italy, Greece, and Turkey are deflecting Syrian refugees towards the European mainland while Austria tightens its border, Hungary is overwhelmed to the point of closing major train stations, and Germany is burdened with the acceptance of an estimated 800,000 asylum seekers this year. The United Kingdom and Spain, meanwhile, would rather sweep the whole thing under the rug.

It’s both disheartening and shameful that a continent of plentiful resource and stone’s throw proximity to one of the most significant humanitarian crises of the past decade chooses to sit back and point fingers rather than act with necessary urgency on the matter.

Equally appalling is the reaction of many citizens when faced with the issue – just peruse any comment board of news relating to the refugee crisis and you’ll see a void of human decency that plagues a concerning number of people consumed by shocking intolerance.

We’re talking about victims of war here, not of economy, which is an entirely different debate.

Encouragingly, some individuals have stepped up to the plate to offer grassroots solutions for sheltering refugees, the most significant of which comes from over 12,000 Icelanders who have offered to house Syrian refugees.

Author Bryndis Bjorgvinsdottir set up a Facebook group urging the country’s welfare minister, Eygló Harðardóttir, to allow for Iceland to do more to alleviate the crisis. The country currently grants refugee status to just 50 asylum seekers per year.

“They are our future spouses, best friends, the next soul mate, a drummer for our children’s band, the next colleague, Miss Iceland in 2022, the carpenter who finally finishes the bathroom, the cook in the cafeteria, a fireman and television host,” wrote Bjorgvinsdottir in an open letter. “People of whom we’ll never be able to say in the future: ‘Your life is worth less than my life.’”

More than 12,000 people are currently members of the group, writing their own proposals for a solution and offering to take in those in need. One single mother, with a six-year-old son, offered to take in an additional child who she would teach to speak, read, and write Icelandic, and adjust to Icelandic society.

The action has already reached the highest rung of Iceland government, with Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson considering a change to the number of asylum seekers Iceland will accept. He’s called the current situation “one of the greatest challenges of modern times” and admitted his country’s responsibility to welcome the influx of migrants reaching Europe.

It’s an impressive effort from a country that was ravaged by the most recent financial crisis, proving that perhaps there are more consequential duties of government than those dictated by financial gain.


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