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Putting Refugees on Ice by Geoff Dutton
 

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  • The most peaceful country in the world is stepping up to help people fleeing the least peaceful one. Tiny Iceland (pop. 330,000) said earlier this year it would take in 50 Syrian refugees, the minimum it is obligated to accept under a UN treaty. Icelanders didn't think much of that, and last month a teacher and writer named Bryndis Bjorgvinsdottir set up a Facebook page where Icelanders can volunteer to open their homes to refugees so more of them could be sheltered.

    The government of Iceland has received many letters asking it to admit more refugees and is considering how to respond to the offers posted on Facebook and elsewhere. It seems that many more than 50 will be settled there.

    The number of offers is now over 10,000 and still rising. That's roughly five percent of all the households in Iceland. People from other countries are also posting to the Facebook group offering to take in refugees, and refugees themselves use the page to ask for help.

    President Obama said this week that the US will step up and then set a national goal of accepting 10,000 war refugees. That may sound like a lot to some, but that's how many refugees arrived in Munich since yesterday. Now consider: If five percent of American families were to volunteer their homes, like in Iceland, even at one refugee per home they could house 10 million people—essentially all the war refugees on the planet. But of course nothing like that is going to happen in this great country of ours. After all, some of those people could be terrorist moles.

    How curious it is that such a tiny country with so few resources can be so generous while the big rich ones—Germany excepted—are so stingy. I find that shameful. As an American, Paul Fontaine, editorialized in the Reykjavik Grapevine,

    Those of us living in Europe and North America cannot simply rain death and destruction on countries such as Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, and then tell the people living there who survived – people just like you and me, in other circumstances – that they are unwelcome to have a better life in the land that destroyed theirs.


    'Nuff said.


    Photo by UNICEF via Reykjavik Grapevine
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