Four percent of Iceland’s population has joined a Facebook page seeking to have the country take in more people escaping the Syrian conflict, prompting the government to consider it.
Around 12,000 people from a population of little over 300,000 joined the Facebook page. Many said they would welcome the Syrian refugees in their own homes.
Thank you Icelanders for your humanity. Thank you Iceland for responding to Syria’s tragedy.
The government had earlier announced plans to take in 50 refugees from the Syrian conflict. That small number – over 4 million people have fled Syria since a civil war erupted there in 2011 – prompted Icelanders to sign up to the page which aimed to show the government there was public will to do more.
Prime Minister Sigmund David Gunnlaugsson now says a special council comprised of several ministers will map Iceland’s resources to see how many refugees could be taken and said the government now had no fixed number.
Oli Gneisti Soleyjarson, wrote in a comment:
“After we got rid of the army from Iceland there is lots of empty housing in the old army base. It is evident that it is immoral to have it standing empty while people are dying,”
Iceland has no standing army.
Another on Facebook, a single mother, offered her two extra rooms to a Syrian family saying “One of the rooms is rather large and the other is smaller … I am offering these two rooms and would of course buy beds”.
Thank you Icelanders for showing the way to other civilizations.
The island nation, isolated in the North Atlantic with Greenland as its closest neighbor, has taken in 39 refugees in the past five years, 13 of them from Syria. Since 1956, the number of refugees totals just 511 people.
But the Facebook page mentions an incident in 1973 when mainland Iceland absorbed 4,000 people from the tiny Westman Islands close by after a sudden eruption from Eldfell volcano.
It says this was proof Iceland could do more.