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Icelanders Want to Welcome Refugees, PM Responds

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Icelanders Want to Welcome Refugees, PM Responds

Reykjavík

Reykjavík. Photo: Geir Ólafsson.

Prime Minister of Iceland Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson is planning to appoint a committee of ministers to discuss the growing pressure from Icelanders, politicians and the public, on the government to accept more than 50 refugees.

“I assume that during Tuesday’s cabinet meeting I will propose the establishment of a special committee of ministers to discuss the problem and evaluate how Icelanders can respond, how we can contribute as much as possible,” Sigmundur told RÚV.

“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,” Sigmundur added.

He wouldn’t say anything about how many people Iceland can accept but stated that the 5,000 refugees petitioners on Facebook have been calling for is unrealistic. “I believe there is solidarity on that we should do more to respond to the problem, we just have to find out the best way to do it.”

A great number of people have sent open letters to Minister of Social Affairs Eygló Harðardóttir offering to assist refugees after she called for help from the public yesterday.

People are posting the letters under their own names on a Facebook page called: Kæra Eygló Harðar – Sýrland kallar (‘Dear Eygló Harðar – Syria is calling’). Below are a few examples:

“I’m happy to look after children, take them to kindergarten, school and wherever they need. 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 pre-natal care.”

“I have an extra room in a spacious apartment which I am more than happy to share along with my time and overall support.”

“I would like to help: I have clothing, kitchenware, bed and a room in Hvanneyri [West Iceland], which I am happy to share with Syrians. I would like to work as a volunteer to help welcome people and assist them with adapting to Icelandic society.”

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