At least 10,000 Icelanders said on Monday on Facebook they were willing to welcome Syrian immigrants into their homes after the administration said it would only let in a few.
Bryndis Bjorgvinsdottir, an Icelandic professor and author, on Sunday asked fellow Icelanders to express their thoughts on Facebook if they wanted Iceland, a nation of just 330,000 inhabitants, to accommodate more Syrian refugees.
By Monday afternoon at least 10,000 people had responded to her call.
Writing on Facebook, Hekla Stefansdottir said, “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.”
Many were willing to offer food, clothes, housing, and help with assimilation into Icelandic society.
Addressing the Icelandic public, on national television station RUV, Bjorgvinsdottir said, “I think people have had enough of seeing news stories from the Mediterranean and refugee camps of dying people and they want something done now.”
Eyglo Hardardottir, the Welfare Minister, told RUV that authorities were examining the Facebook offers and would mull over increasing the number of immigrants accepted under a humanitarian limit, presently capped at 50 for this year and 2016.
“I have made it clear that I don’t want to name a maximum figure, but that we (will) explore every avenue available in welcoming more refugees,” she stated.
Official data indicate that the volcanic island in the North Atlantic accommodated 1,117 immigrants in 2014.