Twenty-one Syrian refugees arrived in Iceland on Monday, Vísir reports. Seven of them, a couple and five children, will be settling in Hveragerði, Southwest Iceland, and 14 in nearby Selfoss. The refugees came from Lebanon, where they have been living in a refugee camp for a year.
The Syrians will be assisted by Red Cross volunteers and others in adjusting to their new home. Minister of Social Affairs and Equality Þorsteinn Víglundsson received the families at Keflavík International Airport.
Sólveig Björk Sveinbjörnsdóttir, project manager in Hveragerði and Árborg municipality, stated that many people have shown interest in serving as support families for the newcomers.
“The support families will assist the refugees in various ways during a reciprocal adjustment period the first year. Many in the community have shown goodwill and interest in supporting the families, which is very beautiful and appreciated, and people can talk to the municipalities and the Red Cross about their interest [in volunteering].”
A year ago, six Syrian families arrived in Iceland after fleeing their homes in the war-torn country. In May of last year, the Icelandic government agreed to receive another group of Syrians from a refugee camp in Lebanon.
Through Facebook, the families who arrived on Monday have been in touch with the Syrians who came ahead of them. “They’ve been in touch and are starting to get to know one another a little bit,” stated Kristín S. Hjálmtýsdóttir, CEO of the Icelandic Red Cross. “That’s a certain head start. The Syrians who came last year and earlier this year are ready to connect with them and put them in touch with the locals.”