Lack of Housing Affecting Ukrainian Children’s Access to School in Iceland Skip to content

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Photo: Golli. Children in a classroom at Menntaskólinn í Reykjavík.

Lack of Housing Affecting Ukrainian Children’s Access to School in Iceland

Some Ukrainian children who have come to Iceland as refugees have not been able to register for school because their parents do not have an electronic ID or because they have not found permanent housing, RÚV reports. Around 1,500 refugees have come to Iceland from Ukraine since the war started, and the number is expected to grow to 4,000 by the end of the year.

One of the biggest challenges facing Ukrainian families when they arrive in Iceland is finding housing. While they are provided with temporary housing upon arrival, they must search for permanent housing on their own. Not having a permanent address affects their access to services.

“Municipalities’ regulations are such that if a child does not have a permanent address here in Iceland, they are denied entry to the school system wherever they happen to be located,” explained Sveinn Rúnar Sigurðsson, who runs a shelter for refugees in the capital area. Sveinn says that finding housing for everyone who needs it is difficult even with the current number of refugees, much less with 4,000.

One Ukrainian mother, Natalia, who spoke with reporters, stated that her 12-year-old daughter was not given a spot in the school system because Natalia does not have an electronic ID. “We are in temporary housing. We can stay [there] until October 13. We came here with Ukrainian passports, but we don’t have electronic ID and therefore we can’t register her in school. She wants to go to school and is very worried about this,” Natalia stated.

Nadia, another Ukrainian woman, stated her child was accepted into a school in Hafnarfjörður after a significant waiting period. She says she is worried about her son who does not yet speak any Icelandic, but trusts the Icelandic school system.

Tina, a 15-year-old from Ukraine, is starting school at the junior college Menntaskólinn í Hamrahlíð in the coming days. She stated she was excited to meet Icelandic kids her age and experience new teaching methods.

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