Record Number of Refugees to Be Received in 2020 Skip to content
Refugees protest in Reykjavík
Photo: Golli.

Record Number of Refugees to Be Received in 2020

According to a statement on the Government Offices’ website, the Icelandic government recently approved a proposal from the Refugee Committee to receive 85 refugees, in collaboration with the UN Refugee Agency, in 2020 – a record number.

The proposed acceptance is in line with the government’s agreement, which provides for the increased reception of refugees:

“Never before have there been more refugees in the world due to armed conflict, persecution and environmental catastrophes. Iceland will make its contribution to solve [sici] the refugee crisis and will accept more refugees.”

Three Different Regions

The government plans on accepting refugees from three different regions: Lebanon, Kenya, and Iran.

Syrian nationals account for the greatest portion of international refugees. Conditions for Syrian refugees in Lebanon continue to worsen. Of the approximately 55% of Syrian children who are without access to formal education, 40% have no access to education of any kind. Less than 5% of Syrian children between the ages of 15 and 18 have access to education, the statement reads.

Refugees from Kenya will also be accepted. The UN Refugee Agency estimates that approximately 45,000 individuals are currently in dire need of being extricated from Kenya as quota refugees. The agency has designated four groups, in particular, that are at risk: queer refugees; refugees from South Sudan; refugees involved in politics, human rights activism, or journalism; and special-needs refugees from Somalia.

Finally, Afghani refugees from Iran will also be received. There are an estimated 2.6 million Afghani refugees, many of whom have spent considerable time in refugee camps. Afghani women and girls are especially vulnerable, owing to sex-related violence, forced marriage, and other traditions related to heritage, sex, and class.

247 Refugees Resettled

Since 2015, a total of 247 refugees have been accepted into Icelandic society by 15 municipalities. The majority of these refugees are Syrian but they have also come from Iraq, Uganda, the Republic of the Congo (Congo), Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Sudan, and Cameroon. The UN Refugee Agency estimates that there is a total of 19.9 million refugees in the world today – ca. 1.5 million of whom are in dire need of being accepted as quota refugees (only 4% of which were delivered to safety last year).

According to an article on the World Economic Forum this June, Canada resettled more refugees than any other country last year, or approximately 28,000. This number accounts for approximately 0.00074% of Canada’s population (ca. 37.5 million). The total number of refugees that Iceland hopes to resettle in 2020 will account for approximately 0.00024% of Iceland’s population (ca. 360,000).

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