Reykjanesbær becomes Iceland’s first City #WithRefugees

The city of Reykjanesbær has offered a warm welcome to refugees.

Reykjanesbær, the 3rd largest city in Iceland, has become the country’s first city to join UNHCR’s Cities #WithRefugees solidarity initiative.

The city has a strong history of helping refugees settle into their community by providing them services while supporting and encouraging them to create a fulfilling life for themselves and their children. Mayor of Reykjanesbær, Kjartan Mar Kjartansson, is proud to join the Cities #WithRefugees solidarity initiative.

“Reykjanesbær embraces diversity in society and empowers all citizens to create a good life for themselves and also include every single child with full participation in the community,” he explains.

A quarter of the city’s approximately 20,000 inhabitants have foreign citizenship.

The Cities #WithRefugees solidarity initiative supports the Global Compact on Refugees by encompassing the all-of-society approach. The campaign invites cities and local authorities from all over the world, who are working to promote inclusion, support refugees and bring communities together, to sign a statement of solidarity. Reykjanesbær joined the campaign at the end of 2019.

For years, the city has worked towards ensuring inclusion and support for refugees within their community. In 2004, Reykjanesbær was the first municipality in Iceland to provide assistance to applicants of international protection, after an agreement with the Directorate of Immigration. Since 2014, Reykjaensbær has been providing commendable support to applicants, focusing on families and vulnerable groups. After receiving international protection or humanitarian residence permits, many have remained in Reykjanesbær and have now made it their home.

Henrik M. Nordentoft, UNHCR’s Representative in Northern Europe, is pleased to welcome Reykjanesbær into a strong network of over 200 mayors worldwide.

“Welcoming and open communities are key to ensure that refugees are able to rebuild their lives and contribute to the societies that are hosting them. Reykjanesbær has set a great example on how to make refugees feel included and supported in their new city and country, and I hope other Icelandic and Nordic cities will turn towards Reykjanesbær for inspiration and help spread the message of solidarity,” he states.