The Government of Iceland has agreed to receive refugees from the Greek island of Lesbos, with emphasis on vulnerable Syrian families. These families previously lived in the Moria refugee camp, which was destroyed by fire earlier this month.
The group from Lesbos, which ranges up to 15 people, will join the 85 refugees the Government plans to accept this year. This is the largest group of refugees ever to come to Iceland in a single year. The Refugee Committee will handle preparations for receiving the families, in cooperation with the European Union and the Greek authorities. The EU had previously appealed to the international community, citing the necessity of moving children and their families after the fire at the Moria refugee camp. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) will be available to assist the Icelandic authorities in determining how best to bring the families to Iceland.
Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir: “We want to respond to the appeal to accept refugees from Lesbos. Iceland has gained extensive and valuable expertise in receiving Syrian families, which will be very helpful. It is the Government’s policy to accept more refugees in cooperation with UNHCR, which has expressed its satisfaction with the welcome refugees have received in Iceland.”
The Refugee Committee operates under the auspices of the Minister of Social Affairs and Children. Its members include representatives from the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Social Affairs, and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. Also serving on the committee as participating observers are representatives of the Icelandic Red Cross, the Icelandic Association of Local Authorities, and the Directorate of Immigration.