Citizens of Germany and Iceland show the way

While Europe’s politicians flounder in the face of an unprecedented wave of refugees and migrants seeking shelter — many of them from war-torn Syria — some individuals have decided to take matters into their own hands.

In Iceland, author and professor Bryndis Bjorgvinsdottir has set up a Facebook page to call for her country’s government to increase the number of refugees it was planning to accept from a reported 50 — prompting a big response and wide media interest. Bjorgvinsdottir’s inspiration came from a friend who posted a status update on Facebook — addressed to Iceland’s Minister of Welfare Eyglo Hardar — saying he wanted to take five Syrian refugees into his own home, she said.

And in Germany, a website has been running for months which aims to match offers of accommodation in private homes — ideally shared rental apartments — across the country with individual refugees in need of a place to stay. The website, Refugees Welcome (Fluechtlinge Wilkommen,) has already placed dozens of refugees who otherwise might be placed in overcrowded migrant centers or struggle to put a roof over their heads at all.

Bjorgvinsdottir’s page already has 12,000 members, said — no mean feat given the country’s population is only about 300,000. Proportionately, that equates to some 12 million people signing up in the United States.

Such direct action couldn’t be more needed. Migrants are pouring over Europe’s borders in record numbers this year, many of them fleeing conflict in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. In July alone, a record 107,500 were detected at EU borders.

Inspired by the Icelandic example, a U.S. group has also been set up on Facebook, called “Americans Supporting Syrian Refugees: Open Homes, Open Hearts.”

[Read full CNN article]  

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