When Iceland Capped Its Syrian Refugees At 50, 10,000 Icelanders Responded By Offering Up Their Homes

Credit: IrishTimes.com
Credit: IrishTimes.com

In the midst of the Syrian crisis, Iceland recently announced it was willing to help with the growing humanitarian disaster by providing sanctuary for Syrian refugees. 50, to be exact.

In the country of about 330,000 people, such an offer wasn’t received as particularly heartfelt or overwhelming, especially considering that an estimated 9 million Syrians have fled their homes since the outbreak of civil war in March 2011.

In response to the government’s paltry offer, 10,000 residents of Iceland did something astounding: they stepped up to fill the humanitarian void and offered to host Syrian refugees through a Facebook page called “Syria is calling.” 

The incredible initiative was spurred by a plea from a leading Icelandic author, inspiring thousands to offer up their homes and “be the change.”

As shared by The Icelandic Review Online, here are a few examples of the offers that flooded in over a 24-hour period:

“I’m happy to look after children, take them to kindergarten, school and wherever they need. I can cook for people and show them friendship and warmth. I can pay the airfare for one small family. I can contribute with my expertise and assist pregnant women with pre-natal care.

“I have an extra room in a spacious apartment which I am more than happy to share along with my time and overall support.”

“I’m a single mother with a 6-year-old son… We can take a child in need. I’m a teacher and would teach the child to speak, read and write Icelandic and adjust to Icelandic society. We have clothes, a bed, toys and everything a child needs. I would of course pay for the airplane ticket.”

As Agence France-Presse reports, a number of heartfelt offers were shared through the internet, connecting refugees with kind families and individuals in Iceland. Criticism has come from both sides, but those who are offering their homes apparently feel content knowing they are at least participating in positive change.

Credit: IcelandMonitor.mbl.is
Syrian refugees waiting to board a ferry to Greece. Photo Credit: IcelandMonitor.mbl.is

In response to the activism, Iceland’s government said it would consider raising the quota on Syrian refugees. “I believe there is solidarity on that we should do more to respond to the problem, we just have to find out the best way to do it,” Icelandic Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson said.

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