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New System to Reduce Prejudice towards Asylum Seekers

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New System to Reduce Prejudice towards Asylum Seekers

Syrian refugees in Lebanon, 2014

Syrian refugees at a refugee camp in Lebanon. Individuals from Syria are among asylum seekers in Iceland.Photo: Páll Stefánsson.

Changes that were made to the organization of services to asylum seekers last year were designed to reduce prejudice against them, Mayor of Reykjanesbær Kjartan Már Kjartansson stated. A recent survey concluded that residents of the municipality have a negative attitude towards the asylum seekers who are facilitated there.

Kjartan refers to the City of Reykjavík taking over part of the services. Reykjavík is now responsible for single applicants for asylum, which means that the young men who used to reside in Reykjanesbær have now moved to the capital, Fréttablaðið reports.

“In Reykjanesbær most asylum seekers are [now] families,” Kjartan pointed out, adding that they have better adapted to the community. The first asylum seekers who arrived were single men, he said. “One could say that they had an impact on the town’s atmosphere.”

The survey referenced was part of Jóhanna María Jónsdóttir’s B.S. thesis in economics at Bifröst University, West Iceland. It concluded that 66 percent of respondents in Reykjanesbær either disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement that “the stay of asylum seekers in the country is good for the community.” In Reykjavík, 29 percent of respondents felt the same way.

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