The pandemic has caused delays to the arrival of quota refugees to Iceland. None of the 85 refugees the government planned to receive last year have yet arrived to the country. Of the 85 people, those that are currently located in Lebanon and Iran are expected to arrive in September, RÚV reports.
Quota refugees are invited to Iceland via the United Nations Refugee Program. In 2020, the Icelandic government planned to receive 85 refugees from Lebanon, Israel, and Kenya but none of them have yet arrived in the country. The Ministry of Social Affairs stated, however, that preparation for their arrival is well underway and they are scheduled to arrive in early September. Longer delays have affected the refugees located in Kenya.
100 quota refugees this year
The government had also planned to receive 100 quota refugees in 2021, but preparations to receive them have not yet begun. Authorities expressed the hope that they could begin preparing for the groups soon. At this time, it is not confirmed where the 2021 quota refugees will be coming from or when they will arrive in Iceland.
Iceland also agreed to receive Syrian families with children, up to 15 individuals, from the Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos after a fire burned the camp down in September of last year. Regarding the decision, Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir stated that the government wanted to respond to the call to receive people fleeing Lesbos.
Government to make up for delays
One family that was invited was unable to come, but 11 others have arrived in Iceland from the Greek islands. Four places are therefore still available and Icelandic authorities are waiting on a request from the Greek government in order to fill them.
Authorities have stated that the delays will be made up and will not lead to Iceland accepting fewer quota refugees than planned.