Twenty-five quota refugees are expected to arrive in the capital area in the next month and preparations for their arrival are well underway, RÚV reports.
The towns of Garðabær and Mosfellsbær will both welcome ten refugees each and five will be moving to Seltjarnarnes. (One of the newcomers has already arrived and is getting settled in Seltjarnarnes.) The refugees are arriving from Uganda, Zimbabwe, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Building on experience in Mosfellsbær
“We, the staff of the town of Mosfellsbær, are excited about the refugees’ arrival and things are going well,” said Unnur V. Ingólfsdóttir, director of Mosfellsbær’s family division. She continued that “…[P]eople in town [are] eager and positive about the arrival of the refugees.”
Unnur also said that preparations are easier this year because staff already has experience resettling refugees; Mosfellsbær welcomed ten people from Uganda last year. The most complicated part of the process is, as it was last year, finding housing for the new residents, but town officials are in the process of locating accommodations.
First time for resettlements in Garðabær
This is the first time that refugees will be resettling in the town of Garðabær. Ragna Dögg Þorsteinsdóttir, the project manager responsible for the refugees’ reception there, said that there are a lot of things that need to be taken care of, such as ensuring the new arrivals have access to both physical and mental health services. Then, of course, housing needs to be found and financial assistance made available while people are getting their feet under them in the community. Nevertheless, Ragna said that work opportunities would be plentiful for the refugees in Garðabær, and previous resettlement experience in places such as Mosfellsbær has shown that refugees are quick to find work after arriving in Iceland.
There are a lot of things that newcomers to Iceland have to adjust to, says Ragna, not least learning a new language and getting used to the weather and long, dark winters. But people are also more insular in Iceland than they often are in the countries that the refugees are coming from and in Iceland, and the new arrivals don’t have the benefit of a whole social support network of old friends and family.
Garðabær residents have a good attitude about their soon-to-be neighbors’ arrival, says Ragna. Mayor Gunnar Einarsson seconded this, saying that people are “generally positive” about welcoming the refugees.