Ukrainian Kids Like Iceland’s Swimming Pools, Ice Cream, and Candy

ukrainian children's workshop

A summer workshop for Ukrainian children that have recently arrived in Iceland has given the kids a chance to exercise their creativity, Vísir reports. Volcanoes, swimming pools, and ice cream are among their favourite things about Iceland, kids told reporters.

“It’s a creative workshop primarily based on creative writing,” says Markús Már Efraím, one of the initiative’s organisers and teachers. “The kids have the opportunity to write stories, tell stories, including their own, combined with all sorts of other arts. They draw and go out and take some photographs. They find that very exciting.”

Markús says such workshops make a big impact. “To have something fun to do and break up the day. For these kids, it’s also important to get an opportunity and a platform to express themselves. To learn how to do that, to get to speak. They have incredible imaginations, these kids.”

The children are of varying ages and come from different regions of Ukraine. Mira, 10, says she likes Iceland’s volcanoes and nature. Zlata, 6, told reporters she loves going to the swimming pool.

When asked about Icelandic food, the children’s opinions were split. Some didn’t like it much while others said it was great – further questioning highlighted that Icelandic ice cream and candy were favourites.

Minister’s Assistant Silent on Purpose of Meeting with Namibian Officials

Brynjar Níelsson, assistant to the Minister of Justice, has refused to disclose the purpose of a meeting he had with Namibian officials at Iceland’s Ministry of Justice last June 7. He has stated that the meeting was not an official meeting and is therefore not subject to the Information Act. Namibian authorities would not confirm to Fréttablaðið that the meeting concerned private affairs.

Namibia’s Deputy Prime Minister, Attorney General, and Deputy Director General of the Namibian Anti-Corruption Commission visited Iceland last June. The purpose of their trip was to meet with investigators of the so-called Fishrot Files scandal, involving the operations of one of Iceland’s largest seafood companies in Namibia. The company, Samherji, allegedly bribed Namibian government officials to gain access to lucrative fishing grounds, while also taking advantage of international loopholes to avoid taxes.

Met with other ministers that day

While in the country last June, Namibian officials met with Brynjar at the Ministry of Justice. Brynjar sat in as Minister of Justice Jón Gunnarsson’s representative, as the Minister was absent at the time. The Namibian officials had met with Foreign Minister Þórdís Kolbrún Reykfjörð Gylfadóttir earlier that same day.

Opposition MP Helga Vala Helgadóttir, of the Social-Democratic Alliance, has criticised Brynjar for staying silent on the substance of the meeting. “The Assistant to the Minister of Justice does not meet with the Deputy Prime Minister of Namibia, the Attorney General of Namibia, and the Deputy Director General of the Namibian Anti-Corruption Commission on behalf of the Minister of Justice Jón Gunnarsson to discuss private matters. No more than the Prime Minister who met with them first or the Foreign Minister,” Helga stated.

“Beauty of Freedom:” Reykjavík Pride Festival Begins

Reykjavík’s annual Pride Festival officially kicks off today with a rainbow-painting event on Bankastræti in the city centre. The festival lasts until Sunday, August 7 and its events include karaoke nights, lectures, drag storytime, and of course the traditional Pride Parade on Saturday, August 6. According to the Director of the National Queer Association of Iceland (Samtökin ’78), educating the public is a crucial step in tackling the backlash that has occurred in the fight for equal rights.

Freedom to celebrate

The theme of this year’s festival is “Beauty of Freedom,” a phrase borrowed from Iceland’s 2022 Eurovision entry Með hækkandi sól. “After the long isolation of the last years, we now have the freedom to gather together and unite once more in solidarity. Finally we have the freedom to celebrate our victories and stand together in the fight for human rights, awareness and equality,” a post on the Reykjavík Pride website states.

While the freedom of LGBTQI+ people has “expanded over the course of the last years and decades,” the post states, “we still haven’t reached the highest degree of true freedom. Some groups within the queer community are still struggling and every day, their freedom and beauty is questioned, both in Iceland and abroad.”

Backlash in LGBTQIA+ rights movement

Repeated acts of vandalism to a rainbow painted outside a Reykjavík church, hateful anonymous letters, and even comments from authorities about LGBTQIA+ asylum seekers are just a few examples of prejudice towards the queer community that have appeared in Icelandic media in recent weeks. Daníel Arnarsson, director of the National Queer Association of Iceland says prejudice against the LGBTQIA+ community has increased and become more commonplace.

“When we allow prejudice to fester, we are also opening the door for that prejudice to spread to other minority groups,” Daníel told RÚV, emphasising that educating the public about the reality faced by queer people is key in fighting what he called a backlash in the LGBTQIA+ rights movement.

All are welcome to take part in the rainbow painting at noon today at the corner of Bankastræti and Ingólfssstræti. The full festival programme is available on the Reykjavík Pride website.

Southwest Iceland Experiences String of Earthquakes Overnight

Kleifarvatn - Krísuvík - Reykjanes

Residents of Southwest Iceland, including the capital area, experienced a series of strong earthquakes last night, August 1, according to the Meteorological Office of Iceland.

The largest registered earthquake was 5.4 magnitude, which occurred around 5:48pm yesterday evening near Grindavík. In total, some 15 earthquakes of magnitude 4 or greater have occurred since Saturday. The recent series of quakes have their origins near Kleifarvatn, a lake and popular nature area in the Reykjanes peninsula.

The recent increase in seismological activity has led to a declaration of a State of Uncertainty in the event that the Fagradalsfjall eruption becomes active again, as similar conditions were observed before the eruptions of 2021. The recent earthquakes are attributed to magma intrusion, which is in line with the pattern from last year, where a series of earthquakes preceded the eruption. However, according to the Meteorological Office, the magma intrusion is small than last year’s. As of yet, hiking trails remain open in the area, and the Civil Defense has not closed off the area.

No significant damage was caused by the recent quakes, but Mayor of Grindavík, Fannar Jónasson, said to RÚV that some damage was caused to a water pipe, which has since been repaired. Fannar stated that although the earthquakes may be uncomfortable, he believes that everyone is well prepared and that all agencies and businesses in the town have emergency plans.

The Meteorological Office warns of the increased risk of rockfall in Southwest Iceland and advises caution near steep slopes, sea cliffs, and other areas where rocks may be prone to fall.