iceland refugee housing volunteers bryndis bjorgvinsdottir intv wrn_00025629.jpg
Icelanders volunteer personal homes for Syrian refugees
03:53 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

Large numbers in Iceland back a Facebook initiative in Iceland calling for more Syrian refugees to be let in

A website in Germany helps match refugees with offers of accommodation in private homes

Offering a room to a migrant has been an "absolutely fantastic" experience, says a volunteer host in Berlin

CNN  — 

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.

Using digital means, they are taking practical steps to offer desperate men, woman and children a place to stay in their own homes, or seeking to pressure their own governments into offering sanctuary to more of those in need.

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.

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.

Such direct action couldn’t be more needed.

Migrants are pouring over Europe’s borders in record numbers this year, according to the EU border agency Frontex, many of them fleeing conflict in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. In July alone, a record 107,500 were detected at EU borders, it said.

‘Refugees are our future spouses, best friends’

In Reykjavik, 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.