Fifteen thousand Icelanders are willing to open their own homes to Syrian refugees to convince their government that the country can do beyond the 50 refugees cap per year. The Icelanders responded to an open call made by Bryndis Bjorgvinsdottir, who penned an open letter to the country’s prime minister to allow more Syrian people to enter Iceland.
Iceland’s population to date is 328, 841 but already 15 thousand of them have responded to a Facebook page set up by Bjorgvinsdottir. The page, Syria Is Calling, comes with an open letter to Iceland’s welfare minister, Eygló Harðar. In the letter, Bjorgvinsdottir explained that the idea behind the movement is to show the government that there exists “a will” among its citizens to receive even more refugees from Syria than the 50 that have already been discussed.
“Refugees are human resources, experience and skills. 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. People who we’ll never be able to say to: ‘Your life is worth less than mine,’” Bjorgvinsdottir wrote.
Bjorgvinsdottir’s post also comes with a separate post from a friend whom she said had inspired her to start the initiatives. Bryndis, her friend, had previously posted a separate open letter to their prime minister saying that she is requesting “a residence and work permit, along with an identification number and basic human rights, for five Syrians.”
“I know a man who can accommodate them and give them food, but I’ll pay for their flight tickets and present them to the country and its people. I read in the news that Icelanders can accept 50 Syrians, but this would make them 55,” Bryndis wrote.
Bjorgvinsdottir’s effort has inspired a similar Facebook Page in the U.S. that encouraged Americans to welcome people displaced by the violence in Syria into their homes. “Our hope in this effort is to demonstrate our solidarity with the Syrian people and to show the U.S. government that we can and should accept far more than 8,000 Syrian refugees this year,” according to a post from the page.
Meanwhile, as trains full of asylum seekers traveling to Germany are experiencing hurdles in some stops, people are surprisingly keen to their needs. In Austria for example, Austrians are giving refugees water and something to eat.
According to a report from The Independent, a terminal in Vienna has many volunteers pushing trolleys with ample supply of bottled waters and biscuits. Among the many refugees at the terminal is an 18-year-old man who said he had been travelling for 40 days and hoped to get to Germany. Also among them is a two-year-old girl with her parents. The girl’s mother said they were very scared for their daughter as they traveled overland, but now they “feel ok in Europe.”
A separate report from The Independent said the police had to stop Germans from bringing food supplies to the refugees arriving in Munich but in good faith. According to the report, the refugees received overwhelming donations from the people up to the point that the shelter could not contain them anymore.
“Please do not bring any more goods for the Moment. The donations at hand will be sufficient for the refugees present and arriving today,” the police said.
Reuters meanwhile has complied compelling photos documenting the journey of the Syrian people as they flee their war-torn homeland. See photos here.
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