Twenty-nine Palestinian refugees, eight women and 21 children, from the Al-Waleed refugee camp in Iraq arrived in Iceland late last night. They were taken straight from Keflavík International Airport to Akranes in west Iceland where they will live.
A representative of the Icelandic Red Cross Anna Lára Steindal accompanied the people on their journey, which took 26 hours with a stopover in London, Morgunbladid reports.
“No one tears up their roots in their home country lightheartedly to move to a place as outlandish [as Iceland],” Steindal said, adding that the refugees had taken a keen interest in their new home and asked many questions during the trip.
The children were unbelievably calm, Steindal said, and everyone was brave. It was a fantastic group of people, she commented.
Supportive families to the refugees welcomed them when they arrived yesterday. They will help the Palestinians adjust to their new home in Akranes.
According to Sólveig Ólafsdóttir, divisional manager at the Icelandic Red Cross, the schedule for the next few days will be rather tight although the people will also be given a chance to rest after the long journey.
“They have to fill out a flood of forms to secure their residence permits and other practical things that we couldn’t take care of in advance,” Ólafsdóttir said. “Then they have to go through a medical examination and social consultation and their supportive families will help them get to know their closest environment.”
The supportive program takes 12 months.
Since 1956, Iceland has accepted 481 refugees, including the latest arrival. Ten municipalities have accepted refugees. Before Akranes, Reykjavík most recently accepted refugees; people from Columbia who arrived in 2005 and 2007.