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Hundreds of Children Trapped in Poverty

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Hundreds of Children Trapped in Poverty

Reykjavík and Esja mountain

Reykjavík. Photo: Páll Stefánsson.

According to a new report from the Red Cross, hundreds of children in Reykjavík grow up in dismal conditions, trapped in poverty, mbl.is reports. They are less likely than others to attend preschool and less likely to take part in extra-curricular activities.

The report, titled The People in the Shadow: A Study of the Conditions of the City’s Residents who Are the Worst Off.

“These children are less likely to attend preschool, are less active in athletics and extra-curricular activities than are the children of parents who are financially better off; they do not take music lessons and in general, they have less access to social networks or other qualities of society than the children of parents who are financially better off,” the report reads.

The report was done by Ómar Valdimarsson, an anthropologist. It’s a summary of past studies and includes interviews with more than 30 specialists.The purpose of the study was to find out where the most urgent needs are for the operations of the Red Cross. It will be used to choose Red Cross projects in Reykjavík in coming years.

The Breiðholt neighborhood in Reykjavík stands out in many ways. In includes “more young, single mothers on welfare, more disabled people and mentally ill people than do other city neighborhoods; the educational level is lower… and it includes the highest number of renters of public housing with children aged 18 and under,” the report reads. Still, there are strong youth organizations in Breiðholt with hardworking people.

The report points out that the children of immigrants are at risk of becoming isolated, a problem being addressed by the City of Reykjavík by offering them places to meet and interact with others at special youth centers.

The report brings attention to the different level of support offered to quota refugees, who are invited by authorities to settle in the country and provided with housing and instruction in Icelandic, and asylum seekers, who must find their own housing in a tight rental market and receive limited support.

Special attention is given in the report to the problems of a group of young males, ages 25-30, unemployed, depressed and even dependent on drugs or alcohol. Many of those are on a waiting list for public housing.

Nearly 2,000 people in Iceland undergo treatment annually for drug or alcohol dependency. Over 90 percent of those face a serious drug problem. Doctors worry how common it has become to use dissolved prescription drugs as injections by drug addicts.

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