Image: Róbert Daníel Jónsson

Fifty Syrian Refugees to Settle in Northwest Iceland

 In News, Society

Fifty Syrian refugees will be resettled in the Northwest Iceland towns of Blönduós and Hvammstangi, RÚV reports. Blönduós mayor Valdimar O. Hermannsson says that the town is still working on securing housing for the arriving residents, but that there is no doubt that they will be welcomed in their new home.

Both Blönduós and the district of Húnaþing vestri, where the village of Hvammstangi is located, received a request from the Ministry for Social Affairs to consider receiving Syrian refugees who have been living in camps in Lebanon. The mayor of Húnaþing vestri agreed to the request on behalf of the district before Christmas; roughly 200 people attended an informational meeting about the resettlement last week. Blönduós also agreed to the resettlement. The plan is for 25 people to be settled in each place around the end of April.

Blönduós mayor Valdimar O. Hermannsson says that most of the people who will be resettled in his town are families, most of which have one to three children. The next step, he says, will be to organize the new residents’ reception—to find ‘support families,’ to make school arrangements for the children, organize social services, and secure housing.

The population of Blönduós has grown rapidly of late, meaning that there is not much in the way of currently vacant housing, although there is a lot of housing construction underway. One option under consideration is to look to the nearby town of Skagaströnd. “There could be housing there and we share school and social services,” says Valdimar. “The biggest hurdle is finding housing in both the short and the long-term.”

Even with these challenges, however, Valdimar says he has no doubt that the new residents will be well-received. “There’s actually a big community of foreigners, such as Poles and others, who have lived here for varying lengths of time. It’s just a project we have to tackle and we have no doubt that residents will whole-heartedly support [that project].”

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Sævar Helgi Bragason stargazing.