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Iceland to Welcome 75 Refugees Next Year

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Iceland to Welcome 75 Refugees Next Year

Syrian refugees at Bessastaðir.

Photo: Geir Ólafsson.

The Icelandic government has decided to receive 75 refugees next year, Kjarninn reports. The majority of these individuals will be Syrian refugees currently living in Lebanon, although a minority of the incoming refugees will be LGBTQ individuals from Kenya, along with their families. The decision was based on suggestions made by parliament’s refugee committee in collaboration with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

This is the fourth time that Iceland has provided refuge for asylum seekers from Syria; the first group of Syrian refugees arrived in Iceland in 2015. This is the third time that Iceland has provided refuge for LGBTQ asylum seekers.

Per the Ministry of Welfare’s announcement, Syrians are currently the most populous group of refugees in need of international protection. There are currently over one million Syrian refugees living in Lebanon and their living conditions have steadily deteriorated. About 55% of Syrian children living in refugee camps in Lebanon have no access to formal education.

The Ministry announcement also notes that LGBTQ refugees from Africa are often particularly vulnerable to pervasive prejudices. It is common for these individuals and their families to be victims of violence in refugee camps.

The Ministry for Welfare says the next step is to inform the UNHCR of Iceland’s intention to accept the refugees. The UNHCR will then send back a list of that it thinks could be offered asylum in Iceland. Once the demographics of the group are known – details such as age, family composition, circumstances, and needs – the Ministry of Welfare will negotiate with a municipality, or municipalities, to arrange for these individuals to be rehomed.

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