Guernsey’s chief minister has announced that the island will not be taking in any Syrian refugees as “Islamophobia” among the island’s residents would make it difficult for the government to guarantee the safety of any new arrivals.
The UK government has pledged to take in 20,000 Syrian refugees from camps in the Middle East over the next few years. However, following a review of the infrastructure on the picturesque channel island, Guernsey’s policy council, part of its executive, has announced that it will not be participating in Britain’s scheme, the BBC has reported.
Jonathan Le Tocq, chief minister of Guernsey said: “There’s certainly a lot of Islamophobia and negativity that’s been around and that would entail that it would be difficult for us to ensure that [the refugees] would find the sorts of security and stability here in Guernsey, were they to be resettled here, in the same way as they are, say, in other parts of the UK.”
“That vulnerability”, in conjunction with infrastructure concerns, had led to the decision by the Policy Council not to accept refugees, he said, adding that he was disappointed by the decision.
In a statement, the Policy Council said: “There are a number of legal and practical issues which have been identified recently relating to general refugee rights which must be fully understood and resolved, and certainly before Guernsey could participate in any UK driven refugee resettlement scheme.”
Along with its larger neighbour Jersey, Guernsey is not part of the UK but is a Crown Dependency of Britain with its own Parliament and laws. Both islands were occupied by the Nazis during the second world war. The island, which lies 30 miles north of the French coast has a population of around 65,000.
Its decision comes two months after Jersey also announced that it would not be taking any refugees as part of the British relocation scheme. The island cited legal issues which may threaten its ability to cope with the influx in the longer term.
Aid worker Eddie Parks has branded chief minister Le Tocq’s comments “disgraceful,” telling the BBC that they were an “awful, awful commentary” on Guernsey.