Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began on February 24, 76 Ukrainians have applied for asylum in Iceland, Border Division Police Chief Jón Pétur Jónsson told MBL.is.
However, an even higher number of Ukrainian nationals arriving in Iceland recently could indicate that many are exercising their right to reside in the country for up to three months before officially applying for protection. Jón Pétur said border police could not rule out that scenario.
He said authorities are considering increasing the preparedness level at the border to better handle the stress of arrivals from Ukraine on the immigration system. Iceland’s Social Affairs Minister Guðmundur Ingi Guðbrandsson will appoint a special response team to coordinate the reception of refugees from Ukraine.
“We are looking holistically at the reception system, from the time an individual arrives in the country until they receive services,” Jón Pétur said. “The reception system is resetting itself now that Article 44 of the Foreign Nationals Act is active.”
Article 44 of the Foreign Nationals Act provides for the collective protection of foreign nationals in the event of mass exodus. Justice Minister Jón Gunnarsson triggered the article on March 3.
Including the recent applicants from Ukraine, 320 individuals have applied for asylum in Iceland so far this year — a seven-year high.