Thousands of Icelanders offer to take in Syrian migrants

Thousands of Icelandic people offer to take Syrian refugees into their home. Credit: PA

Over 12,000 Icelanders have joined a Facebook page offering to take Syrian refugees into their home, prompting the government to rethink its current policy.

The page was started by Icelandic author Bryndis Bjorgvinsdottir, who encouraged her fellow countrymen to speak out in favour of those needing asylum. Within 24 hours, over 10,000 people had responded.

The government had previously announced plans to take in 50 refugees from the Syrian conflict - over four million people have fled Syria since a civil war erupted there in 2011.

Prime Minister Sigmund David Gunnlaugsson now says a special council comprised of several ministers will map Iceland's resources to see how many refugees could be taken and said the government now had no fixed number.

The page was started by author Bryndis Bjorgvinsdottir. Credit: Facebook

Hekla Stefansdottir wrote: "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."

"After we got rid of the army from Iceland there is lots of empty housing in the old army base. It is evident that it is immoral to have it standing empty while people are dying," Oli Gneisti Soleyjarson, wrote in a comment on Facebook.

Another single mother, offered her two extra rooms to a Syrian family saying "One of the rooms is rather large and the other is smaller ... I am offering these two rooms and would of course buy beds".

Iceland has taken in 39 refugees in the past five years, 13 of them from Syria. Since 1956, the number of refugees totals just 511 people.

The Facebook page also mentions an incident in 1973 when mainland Iceland absorbed 4,000 people from the tiny Westman Islands close by after a sudden eruption from Eldfell volcano. It says this was proof Iceland could do more.