Thousands of people in Iceland are doing something beautiful for Syrian refugees
When the Icelandic government said they would only take 50 refugees in the midst of a European migrant crisis, everyday Icelandic citizens stepped up to do more.
Over 4 million Syrians have fled violence and chaos in their country, and many are taking arduous journeys to get to Europe. This week, there was a two-day stand-off in Budapest as refugees were refused entry into a train station that they hoped could get them on to Germany, and photos of a drowned 3-year-old boy, Syrian refugee Aylan Kurdi, who was found on Turkish shores, went viral and raised awareness about the treacherous measures refugees are taking to make it to safety. Last week, a truck was found in Austria carrying 71 bodies believed to be Syrian refugees.
European leaders are struggling to find a course of action and tensions are raised as they argue over the amount of responsibility countries should take for refugees.
But, to 17,000 people in Iceland, it’s an easy solution: Accept and house refugees.
A Facebook event was made calling on Minister of Welfare Eygló Harðar to allow more Syrian refugees into the country. By Friday morning, it had over 17,000 “attendees.” The cover image for the event evokes the sentiment that is driving these people to open their homes:
“The idea is to show the government that there exists a will to receive even more refugees from Syria than the 50 that have already been discussed,” the Facebook event description reads. “We want to push the government – show them that we can do better, and do so immediately!”
The event explains that in 1973 Iceland accepted 4,000 refugees from the Westman Islands overnight following a volcanic eruption, showing that Icelandic people are capable of helping others when it’s so needed.
The Facebook event doesn’t just say that refugees will be kept safe — it says they will become accepted as vibrant pieces of the Icelandic community.
“Refugees are our future spouses, best friends, our next soul mate, the drummer in our children’s band, our next colleague, Miss Iceland 2022, the carpenter who finally fixes our bathroom, the chef in the cafeteria, the fireman, the hacker and the television host,” the event says.
This is markedly different language than that being used by some leaders, including Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who said he may build a fence on his border to discourage refugees from coming in.
Because of the outcry from Icelandic citizens, a committee of ministers was appointed by Icelandic Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson to discuss accepting more refugees into the country. Their kindness and generosity is being lauded all the way around the world.
[Images via Facebook]