Thursday 04 February 2016
The following statement was released by the Policy Council to provide an update on the States of Guernsey's response to the Syrian refugee crisis
Following a review of the island's infrastructure and legal framework, the Policy Council has concluded that Guernsey is not currently able to participate in the UK Government's Syrian Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme. At present the supporting infrastructure is not fully in place for the island to accept these vulnerable individuals whom the UK is seeking to temporarily resettle, in the way which meets their specific needs. In addition 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.
The Policy Council will nevertheless look at new ways to ensure that Guernsey can continue to meet its international obligations as well as play its role to respond responsibly to international humanitarian crises. This will include identifying the relevant legal barriers to being able to assist in such schemes in future.
The Guernsey Overseas Aid Commission has provided £230,000 to agencies delivering aid in and around Syria since 2012. These contributions are helping some of the most vulnerable people escaping the conflict in Syria and the Guernsey Overseas Aid Commission will be continuing to consider ways in which those refugees in neighbouring countries can be helped alongside the needs of humanitarian plights in other jurisdictions.
The Chief Minister said:
"Guernsey has in its recent history relied upon the generosity and support of others outside our community and borders when islanders were displaced from their homes during the occupation in World War II. It is morally right that where we are able to provide help we seek to do so appropriately. Our forefathers have done so in the past on such occasions and we should follow their lead. Whilst I am disappointed it has not proven possible to assist directly with the resettlement of Syrians under the current UK scheme, I am reassured that we cannot rule out the possibility of doing our part proportionately in future should the need arise. I fully support the work of the Guernsey Overseas Aid Commission providing aid to those refugees and displaced persons around Syria and I encourage all of us to give generously as we are able to charities working with vulnerable people in such situations."