Up to 2,000 Ukrainian refugees might come to Iceland to apply for international protection, according to estimates from the country’s Refugee Committee. Iceland’s Social Affairs Minister Guðmundur Ingi Guðbrandsson will appoint a special response team to coordinate the reception of refugees from Ukraine. Iceland’s Minister of Justice triggered Article 44 of the Foreign Nationals Act last week to provide immediate, though temporary, protection for Ukrainians fleeing as a result of the Russian invasion.
One of the biggest challenges will be finding housing for the refugees, according to the chairman of Alþingi’s Refugee Committee, Stefán Vagn Stefánsson. “That’s one of the big projects, to find housing for the people, and the problem is that we don’t know how much will be needed. Finding housing has gone better than we assumed it would. Private parties have contacted us and offered housing. That’s incredibly important and helps a lot. It’s also a cause for celebration that the Icelandic Confederation of Labour’s central committee encouraged labour unions to join the effort last week.”
Stefán also expressed his hope that municipal authorities would help in finding housing. While there are currently three municipalities in the country with active government contracts for the reception and resettlement of refugees, he says more will have to be added in order for the project to be successful.
A notice from the Icelandic government stated that an electronic portal would be set up as early as today where institutions and others could offer housing for refugees, both shorter and longer term.