Ministers to discuss help for refugees

MINISTERIAL-LEVEL discussions about how Jersey can help Afghan refugees within its ‘highly constrained Island setting’ are due to take place in the coming days, the government has said.

Deputy Chief Minister Lyndon Farnham previously said ministers had been discussing whether Jersey should take in Afghan refugees.
Deputy Chief Minister Lyndon Farnham previously said ministers had been discussing whether Jersey should take in Afghan refugees.

The announcement follows an Economic and International Affairs Scrutiny Panel meeting at which members called for clarity over the plan to help asylum seekers. UK authorities have said they plan to resettle up to 20,000 Afghans fleeing the country after the Taliban regained control.

Deputy Chief Minister Lyndon Farnham previously said ministers had been discussing whether Jersey should take in Afghan refugees. A government spokesperson said options continued to be explored.

‘Ministers have met to consider what Jersey could do to support those affected by the current situation in Afghanistan,’ they said.

‘Jersey has always supported refugees in various ways, recognising the challenges and limitations of our highly constrained Island setting. Within this context, ministers have asked officials to explore concrete ways to help and will meet again this week to consider the options.

‘At the same time, Jersey Overseas Aid is gathering data from its partners in Afghanistan and considering the best options for providing humanitarian support,’ they added.

In 2015, while he was still Chief Minister, Senator Ian Gorst announced that the government was considering taking in refugees from Syria who were fleeing ISIS.

His plans faltered, however, because Jersey did not have its own asylum protocol and, under the European Convention on Human Rights, the Island would have been forced to accept refugees from any country if they took in Syrian families.

Senator Gorst said that this could have placed an unacceptable strain on the Island’s public services.

In 2018 the issue resurfaced when Constable Simon Crowcroft lodged a proposition calling for Jersey to make efforts to accept child refugees from Europe.

Chief Minister John Le Fondré said that he was sympathetic to the ‘very real plight’ of child refugees, prompting Mr Crowcroft to withdraw his proposals, but, in March 2019, the Senator told the States that Jersey’s Children’s Services were not fit to accept children with ‘complicated’ psychological issues.

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