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Record Number of Asylum Seekers

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Record Number of Asylum Seekers

Refugees on Lesbos, Greece

Refugees in Lesbos, Greece. Photo: Páll Stefánsson.

The number of asylum seekers in Iceland has never been as high as it was in January this year. Kristín Völundardóttir, head of the Directorate of Immigration, told RÚV that 50 applications were received in January, the month when applications normally reach a low. “Based on that month, we’ve adjusted our predictions and we now expect a minimum of 600 asylum seekers this year. Then it’s of course essential to be prepared and have housing ready.”

Additional rental housing is now being sought for up to 100 people. Kristín said municipalities are expected to provide services to families, but that their resources have been used to the fullest. Rental housing is being requested for twelve months with the possibility of a one year extension.

“Right now,” Kristín explained, “the situation is such that the Directorate of Immigration services as many people as do the three municipalities we have contracts with. I don’t think that’s a normal development, so a lot will be done in the next few months in terms of service solutions and reception.”

The trend is the same in the rest of Europe, where more refugees and migrants arrived during the first six weeks of 2016 than during the first four months of 2015, according to UNHCR.

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