Have all the sheep been rescued from Grindavík?

Sheep in Iceland
After it became clear that about 250 sheep were confined in Grindavík after the eruption on the Reykjanes peninsula began on Sunday, January 14, many people were concerned for the animals. On Tuesday, January 16, following two days without water and feed, all of the sheep were moved out of the town and are in safety now.

No immediate permit to rescue the animals

About 250 sheep were left behind when the eruption started. After the first evacuation of Grindavík in November following a series of earthquakes, all remaining animals were moved out of town. 

The fact that some livestock owners decided to return their animals to Grindavík in December caused public criticism, also from the Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority MAST. For some farmers, finding new shelter for their animals has been difficult. Sigrún Eggertsdóttir told the news outlet Vísir that she only found a temporary solution for her 30 sheep and did not have a choice but to bring the animals back to the town.

Initially, the animals left behind in a rushed evacuation just hours before the eruption were not designated a priority by officials. The Icelandic Animal Welfare Organisation started a campaign on social media, raising alarm after seeing that expensive machinery was moved out of Grindavík, but no permit for rescuing the sheep was issued. On January 16, officials finally allowed the livestock owners to enter the town and evacuate their sheep from the site of danger.

Artist on the Run

Sölvi helgason

October 1843. Staðarsveit farmstead in Snæfellsnes, West Iceland. It was early evening, and an odd yet highly entertaining young visitor had just finished regaling the appreciative farmhands with his witty remarks and amusing anecdotes. He clearly enjoyed telling them his tall tales as well as sharing his vivid descriptions of Iceland’s natural wonders and deadly […]

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In Focus: The Króna and the Euro

icelandic króna isk

The Icelandic króna was introduced as currency when Iceland gained its sovereignty from Denmark in 1918, with the first coins issued in 1922. At the time, one Icelandic króna was equal to one Danish krone. Today, the Icelandic króna has been devalued to such a degree that you’d need 2,000 of the original króna for […]

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French Film Festival Begins in Reykjavík

french film festival Reykjavík

Iceland’s longest-running film festival, the French Film Festival, kicks off tomorrow in Bíó Paradís. Its two-week program features a variety of movies and events for all ages, including Q&A sessions, crepes, and fencing.

This year marks the festival’s 24th edition, which runs from January 19-28. The films screened span a variety of genres, including romance, action, and family-friendly animation.

The festival also includes various events in addition to the screenings, including a chat with Disco Boy director Giacomo Abbruzzese tomorrow at noon. This Sunday, a screening of the animation The Black Pharaoh, The Savage and the Princess (screened in French with Icelandic subtitles), will include crepes after the screening. A screening of The Three Musketeers – Part 1: D’Artagnan this Sunday evening will be preceded by a fencing show to get viewers warmed up for the action.

Further screening times can be seen on the festival’s Facebook page.

Deportation of Palestinian Children Suspended

Two Palestinian children who were set to be deported from Iceland will have their applications for international protection reviewed, RÚV reports. Last week, the Immigration and Asylum Appeals Board overturned the Directorate of Immigration’s decision to deport the two cousins, Yazan (14) and Sameer (12), who arrived in Iceland last April with their 30-year-old uncle. Their uncle is, however, set to be deported from Iceland.

A difficult wait

Hanna Símónardóttir, Yazan’s foster parent in Iceland, says the decision to review the boys’ applications is a big relief. “But it has only cast a shadow over the fact that their uncle, who accompanied them, and was their only true close relative who is definitely alive, was deported at the same time.” She says waiting for the ruling has been difficult and urges the Icelandic government to stop the deportation of Palestinian applicants and to carry out family reunifications that have already been approved.

Families in Gaza

The boys’ families are in Gaza, and while they wait for a decision on their asylum cases, they are not able to apply for family reunification visas for their family members, Hanna stated. “The boys are incredibly worried about their families,” she stated. “They haven’t heard from them in five days, and every day they don’t hear from them, those worries get bigger. And we all know that the people of Gaza are in concentration camps and every hour can make a difference, to try to help these people get out alive.”

Uncle to be deported in 30 days

The boys’ uncle Ahmed was informed by the Directorate of Immigration yesterday that he would be deported in 30 days and has been stripped of housing and services, including legal support. Hanna calls on the Icelandic authorities to speed up the processing of the boys’ applications, to stop the deportation of Palestinian applicants in Iceland, and to act on family reunification visas that have already been approved for family members in Gaza.

Protest camp outside Parliament

Other Palestinians in Iceland and their supporters have been protesting outside Parliament since December 27. The group has made three demands of Icelandic authorities. Firstly, to carry out the family reunifications for which they have already granted visas. Secondly, a meeting with the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Justice, and the Minister of Social Affairs and the Labour Market. Thirdly, to stop the ongoing deportations of Palestinian people in Iceland and grant them international protection.

“Shocking” Rise in Fatal Car Accidents

driving in reykjavík

In the mere 17 days that have passed in 2024 so far, five people have died in traffic accidents. This rate of fatal accident has not been seen since recording began some 50 years ago, Vísir reports.

Two died in an accident on Grindavíkurvegur, two near Skaftafell and one in Hvalfjörður. Þórhildur Elínardóttir, communications director of the Icelandic Transport Authority, told Vísir that the number of traffic deaths this year is “shocking” and that she hadn’t seen such trends in recent years. “This is among the worst we’ve seen,” said Þórhildur. “We hope this isn’t a taste of what’s to come.”

New traffic risks

Eight people died in traffic in Iceland last year in total and nine in 2022. The numbers had been similar in the years before. Five deaths in only 17 days is the deadliest start of the year, surpassing 1977, the worst year on record. 37 people died in traffic that year.

The Icelandic Transport Authority keeps track of accident statistics and spearheads prevention methods. Þórhildur said that authorities have set the goal of decreasing serious injuries and deaths in traffic by 5 percent year on year and for Iceland to be among the five European nations with the fewest traffic deaths per capita.

Þórhildur said that it’s important to spread awareness about road safety. “We need to face the various challenges that have come up through the years,” she said. “In the last ten years, they have included phone use while driving, increase in tourism, electric scooters, and more.”