72 Palestinians Arrive in Iceland, Many Residence Permit Holders Still in Gaza Skip to content

72 Palestinians Arrive in Iceland, Many Residence Permit Holders Still in Gaza

By Andie Sophia Fontaine

Miðborg Reykjavíkur - tekið úr byggingakrana
Photo: Golli. Reykjavík City.

The 72 Palestinians with Icelandic residence permits who were brought out of Gaza last week have arrived at last in Iceland, RÚV reports. Many, however, have yet to escape.

A cheerful, tearful reunion

These 72 people–24 adults and 48 children–arrived in Iceland last Friday after a long journey from Gaza. Representatives from Iceland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who had been in Cairo since early February, compiled a list of names of Icelandic residence permit holders in Gaza for the approval of Egyptian and Israeli officials. These people were then escorted from the border town of Rafah and into Egypt, from where they traveled to Iceland.

Employees from the Directorate of Labour, the Red Cross and the City of Reykjavík welcomed these new arrivals at Keflavík International Airport. From there, they traveled to Reykjavík where they were greeted by a throng of relatives and well-wishers, in reunions marked by tears of joy, laughter, and many hugs.

Many still in Gaza

About 50 of these arrivals will be staying in Red Cross housing, at least initially, with about two-thirds of them to live in the greater Reykjavík area, and the remaining third to live elsewhere in southwest Iceland.

However, this does not mark the end of the matter.

While the Foreign Ministry has announced that their work in Cairo has concluded, there are still some 32 Palestinians with Icelandic residence permits who are still in the region. Information from the Directorate of Immigration did not specify how many of these Palestinians are in Gaza, but it is estimated that most, if not all, of them are.

These 32 people were granted their residence permits after the Foreign Ministry compiled its list of names, i.e. February 10th. Despite this, the Ministry has said that it has met its obligations but would be monitoring the situation in Gaza.

Icelandic civilian volunteers have been very active in assisting other Palestinians with Icelandic residence permits with getting out of Gaza, and it is therefore likely they will also be assisting these addition Icelandic residence permit holders.

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