Icelandic President Guðni Th. Jóhannesson has invited the 22 Syrian refugees, who were expected to arrive in the country today, to his residence at Bessastaðir this afternoon, RÚV reports.
The decision to invite the refugees to the presidential residence was made at noon. Until then, the plan was for the president to receive the newcomers at Keflavík International Airport, as has been done in the past, along with the minister of social affairs and equality, the mayor of Reykjavík and representatives of the Red Cross.
This is the third group of Syrian refugees to arrive in Iceland in about a year. The group includes nine adults and 13 children, who come here from Lebanon. The families will settle in Reykjavík, except for one, who is headed for Akureyri, North Iceland, according to mbl.is.
It has been noted that the decision to receive the refugees at Bessastaðir was made following recent discussion about US President Donald Trump’s executive order, which closed the US borders to Syrian refugees and others.
RÚV was unable to confirm whether there was a direct connection to Trump’s decision. Still, one should remember that when Guðni congratulated Trump on his victory in the presidential election, he reminded him in the message he sent of the values the two countries share: freedom of speech, equality and people’s equal rights, regardless of skin color or religion.
The number of the refugees has been corrected, based on RÚV’s account.