The first group of Syrian refugees to be resettled in Iceland arrived at Keflavík International Airport yesterday afternoon. Six Syrian families arrived from Beirut, 13 adults and 22 children. Four of the families, a total of 23 people, will be settling in Akureyri, North Iceland, and two families will make their home in Kópavogur, near Reykjavík.
Three families, who had been offered to resettle in Iceland, decided not to come to Iceland, but others will come in their place within a few weeks, RÚV reports. That group of people will settle in Kópavogur and Hafnarfjörður.
One of the Syrian girls shows a drawing of the Icelandic flag as Minister of Social Affairs and Housing Eygló Harðardóttir looks on. Photo: Páll Stefánsson.
The Syrians were greeted at Keflavík Airport by Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson and Minister of Social Affairs and Housing Eygló Harðardóttir, who gave them a formal reception, along with a number of people who will be of support to the refugees.
One of the children helps get the luggage on the bus which took the group who are going to Akureyri to the domestic airport. Photo: Páll Stefánsson.
The children were tired, but cheerful. One of the boys carried a violin, which he played at the airport in Paris, where the families took a connecting flight to Iceland. Some members of the group speak English well. The boy’s father, Khattab al Mohammad, worked as an English instructor and tourist guide before he fled Aleppo, Syria, four years ago. He and his wife Halima have six children. They will be settling in Akureyri, along with Khattab’s mother.
Khattab gave a short speech, showed drawings the children had made of the Icelandic flag, and thanked those who received him. He told Vísir he hoped the children would be able to go to school, but they have not been able to attend one since 2014. He also said he hoped he could get a job to support the family.