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More Housing Needed for Asylum Seekers

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More Housing Needed for Asylum Seekers

Reykjavík with Hallgrímskirkja in the background

Photo: Páll Stefánsson.

The social housing system for asylum seekers in Iceland is under a lot of strain, mbl.is reports. If the Icelandic public offered housing to individuals seeking international protection, that would enable many people to start a new life here and even be reunited with their families, according to Áshildur Linnet, Red Cross project manager. She points out that a record number of applications for asylum were received in August.

William Spindler, a public relations officer for UNHCR, told Morgunblaðið that the stream of refugees and immigrants is expected to remain substantial in the coming months. He says the European countries in which refugees first arrive often lack the funds needed for basic assistance.

Increasing the number of refugees resettled in Iceland will involve cost to municipalities. They are required to provide schooling to children. The cost per student per year during mandatory education is estimated to be ISK 1.5 million (USD 11,600; EUR 10,000). To that must be added special instruction for children whose second language is Icelandic. The ministry of welfare estimates that the cost associated with resettling a refugee in Iceland is, on average, ISK 4-5 million (USD 31,000-38,600; EUR 27,500-34,400) a year.

Akranes Mayor Regína Ástvaldsdóttir says the government must extend the period during which it supports the municipalities in their refugee efforts. Right now, Akranes, which is located in West Iceland, has received support for refugees for a year and a half, whereas in Norway, that support is offered for five years.

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