UNHCR: Iceland shows important solidarity and support

This year, over 1,000 vulnerable asylum seekers have been relocated from Greece to other European countries. ©UNHCR

UNHCR’s Representation for the Nordic and Baltic countries welcomes Iceland’s decision to receive up to 15 vulnerable persons from Lesvos in Greece, following the devastating fires in Moria that left thousands of asylum-seekers and refugees homeless, including children, families and other vulnerable people.

Iceland´s decision comes in response to appeals for support and solidarity, including from UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and Iceland is joining a coalition of countries that have committed to support Greece by receiving the most vulnerable refugees and asylum-seekers. This year, more than 1,000 asylum-seekers have been relocated so far, but with close to 10,000 asylum-seekers in the temporary emergency site on Lesvos and still 4,000 unaccompanied children in Greece, the needs for additional support are extensive.

“Iceland’s decision will not only provide hope and help to a number of vulnerable families, it will also send a strong message of support to Greece. It’s encouraging to see countries like Iceland coming forward and showing European solidarity, and UNHCR hopes that Iceland’s gesture can inspire others to follow,” says Henrik M. Nordentoft, UNHCR’s Representative to the Nordic and Baltic countries.

UNHCR notes that Iceland’s decision to relocate will be additional to the country’s already strong resettlement quota. With record-high forced displacement globally, and the need for durable solutions for vulnerable refugees only growing year by year, this commitment is vital.

Moreover, Iceland has also recently announced a contribution of ISK 20 million to UNHCR’s operation in Greece. This will help UNHCR deliver life-saving shelter and aid to thousands in need.

While applauding the emergency response to support Greece and the countries that are partaking, UNHCR urges stakeholders to move beyond ad-hoc solutions and continues to call for long-term solutions. UNHCR hopes that the EU Commission proposal for a Pact on Migration and Asylum will prove to be a much-needed start for a better and more predictable system to protect refugees.