Iceland recently announced it was willing to help with the growing humanitarian disaster in Syria that is sending Syrians fleeing for safety by the thousand to Turkey, Europe, and beyond. The Icelandic government offered to take 50 Syrian refugees in Iceland a country of some 330,000 people. As far as offers of help go, it didn’t come off as particularly heartfelt or overwhelming.
In response to their government’s paltry offer, Icelanders stepped up to try to fill the humanitarian void. Spurred on by a plea from a leading Icelandic author, and a Facebook event page called “Syria is calling,” more than 10,000 people joined to urge the Icelandic government to do more, many writing to offer up their homes and support.*
Here are a couple of examples of the offers that flooded in over a 24-hour period via the Iceland Review Online:
“I’m happy to look after children, take them to kindergarten, school and wherever they need. I can cook for people and show them friendship and warmth. I can pay the airfare for one small family. I can contribute with my expertise and assist pregnant women with pre-natal care.”
“I have an extra room in a spacious apartment which I am more than happy to share along with my time and overall support.”
“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,” Hekla Stefansdottir wrote in another post, according to Agence France-Presse.
The Icelandic government, responding to the posts, said it would consider raising the quota on Syrian refugees. “I believe there is solidarity on that we should do more to respond to the problem, we just have to find out the best way to do it,” Icelandic Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson said.
Also in Slate, see the latest photographs from the European refugee crisis.
*Correction, Sept. 2, 2015: This post originally misstated that 10,000 Icelanders had explicitly offered up their homes to Syrian refugees. At the time of publication, more than 10,000 people had joined a Facebook group urging the Icelandic government to do more to help Syrian refugees. Although many offered housing and support, it is unclear how many of the 10,000 offered to pitch in, and how many were from Iceland. The headline has been updated to more accurately reflect this ambiguity.