Child refugees to be sheltered in Jersey?

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It is understood that civil servants are liaising with UK officials, and a States spokeswoman has confirmed that the matter is under review.

Separately, St Helier Constable Simon Crowcroft has lodged proposals calling for the government to make accepting minors fleeing troubled parts of the world one of its strategic priorities.

Mr Crowcroft has lodged an amendment to the draft Common Strategic Policy for 2018 to 2022 which, if approved by the States, would mean the policy was adopted as part of the CSP, which will determine ministerial objectives for the next four years.

Last month Labour peer Lord Alf Dubs, who as a child refugee fled from his native Prague in 1939 to the UK, said that the Crown Dependencies – Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man – should share with the UK responsibility for taking child refugees from Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan.

In 2015, an attempt by former Chief Minister Ian Gorst to bring a handful of refugee families to Jersey was blocked due to technicalities concerning international treaties and immigration laws.

The report that outlines Mr Crowcroft’s amendment says that he was encouraged by Lord Dubs, during a recent meeting, to pursue the matter again for Jersey.

It says: ‘On the rare occasions when this matter has been discussed, it has been pointed out that Jersey has supported the plight of refugees and others suffering abroad in various war zones, and in countries affected by drought and famine.

‘This is entirely true and is to be commended, as is the work of those who volunteer to spend time overseas assisting communities in the building of schools, medical facilities, and so on.

‘However, our overseas aid, and the many other generous activities carried out for the benefit of the least well-off abroad, does not, in my view, absolve us from considering whether we should follow the example set by other prosperous communities of offering homes to an appropriate number of child refugees.

‘What [the] number is I am not sure, although the students who debated the matter two years ago covered this question very ably, as they did other objections that were raised.’

Mr Crowcroft’s report also says that he ‘understands’ that the Chief Minister’s Department is in talks with the UK government concerning the matter of child refugees.

When asked to confirm this, a government spokeswoman said that the matter was being reviewed by civil servants.

‘Ministers recognise the plight faced by unaccompanied child refugees, but a decision to offer refuge in Jersey can only be taken once all the facts and implications of such action are fully understood,’ she said.

‘Officers are examining the legal and practical implications of accommodating unaccompanied children. The Jersey Overseas Aid Commission continues to provide financial aid to support children in their home countries, and since 2013 has provided emergency grants to aid organisations working in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.’

Senator Gorst withdrew his plans to bring refugees to Jersey in 2015, claiming that if the Island went ahead with the idea, it could lead to large numbers of UK-based refugees coming here under the European Convention on Human Rights. Instead, the States committed to providing more overseas aid.

Mr Crowcroft’s amendment – as well as other proposals he has lodged calling for ministers to prioritise reforming the electoral system, treating St Helier’s rates-payers more fairly and providing more support for the tourism industry – are due to be debated in the States on 4 December.

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