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Record refugee year so far

24.06.2022 - 09:49
Gylfi Þór Þorsteinsson, aðgerðastjóri vegna móttöku flóttafólks. - Mynd: RÚV / RÚV
More refugees have arrived in Iceland so far this year than any previous year. Between 1st January and the start of this week, 1,887 people arrived as refugees—unsurprisingly, 1,215 of them were from Ukraine. Gylfi Þór Þorsteinsson, the Ukrainian refugee crisis response coordinator, says he expects the number of Ukrainians coming to Iceland to increase again in the autumn.

Currently, an average of six-to-eight refugees arrive in Iceland each day, but Gylfi (pictured above) believes that number will increase again in the autumn.

He says more than 300 refugees have secured jobs through Vinnumálastofnun (the Directorate of Labour), and some others have secured employment by themselves.

It is more tricky finding housing, as the ÚTL (Directorate of Immigration) short-term accommodation facilities are full and authorities are increasingly looking outside the capital region.

“What has maybe been plaguing us is of course this shortage of rental housing. As a result, people are maybe staying longer at these short-term facilities than we were hoping,” Gylfi told RÚV.

“The reason people are staying longer is both that there is a shortage of rental housing in the entire country, but also that rental prices are very high in Iceland and therefore people find it harder to get out of our short-term facilities than we were hoping.”

The number of refugees coming to Iceland has never been higher. Gylfi estimates the most in one year so far has been 1,100-1,200 people, but this year that number could approach 3,000.

"We see that with this continuation, the flow of refugees to Iceland this year will possibly approach three thousand and we need to focus our response so that we can receive such a large number," Gylfi concludes.

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