Chief Minister ‘hopes’ Jersey can take in child refugees


In response, St Helier Constable Simon Crowcroft has withdrawn an amendment calling for minors fleeing troubled regions to be accepted into Jersey to become a priority for ministers under the Common Strategic Policy, which is due to be debated next week.

Meanwhile, States backbencher Deputy Jess Perchard has voiced her support for sheltering child refugees in Jersey, but only if they can be properly looked after.

In an email to Mr Crowcroft and all States Members, Senator John Le Fondré indicated support for bringing unaccompanied child refugees to the Island.

‘I am writing to advise you of the work being undertaken to examine whether Jersey can provide refuge to a small number of children who are unaccompanied asylum seekers,’ the email says.

‘As you know Lord Dubs has, in essence, challenged Jersey and other Crown Dependencies to consider what we can do to help and, as Chief Minister, I am committed to fully exploring options. I recognise the very real plight of these children.

‘I asked officers in early November to consider the legal and practical implications of offering a home to these children. This work is under way and will continue.’

The message adds that there are practical and legal difficulties to address, which could take several months.

‘While it is recognised that local families may wish to open their doors to these children on an informal or short-term basis, we would nevertheless need to ensure they are safe and that their needs were being met,’ the email says.

‘We also need to consider in advance what would happen if any such placements broke down, plus, what happens when the child becomes an adult with regard to their residential qualifications, access to social housing etc.

‘I would hope that we can find solutions to these issues and any legal barriers that may arise, but it will take a little time to explore options. I would envisage making a statement to the Assembly once we have resolved these issues.

‘At present I would anticipate that would take place in spring of next year.’

Deputy Perchard said that accepting refugee children would tie in with the States’ strategic policy of putting children first, but also pointed out that a number of issues needed to be considered.

‘If we are serious about putting children first, then we can’t be selective about about which children we are supporting, so we need to look at global children as well as Island children,’ she said.

‘But in terms of practicalities, we need to make sure any children that come here are taken care of appropriately. I wouldn’t want to see children come over here and end up in the Shelter Trust.

‘Children from places like Syria are going to be traumatised and they will need appropriate psychological support and they will need it immediately. Children are very complex, and trauma stays with you your entire life.

‘I have heard of cases where refugee children have been adopted by families and this can be very foreign to them, so we need to make sure that they would go to a good home which would help them.’

Deputies Louise Doublet and Rob Ward have also indicated support for child refugees being sheltered in Jersey.

Many Islanders have voiced concerns about such a move, claiming that traumatised children could place a heavy demand on the Island’s social services and that accepting some refugees could pave the way for many more to come to Jersey under international human rights laws.


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