Jersey will not take Syrian refugees because of legal risks

Refugees at the Zaatari Refugee Camp, in Jordan Image copyright AP
Image caption Jersey overseas aid funding has been sent to the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan, where tens of thousands of refugees are based

Jersey's chief minister has confirmed the island will not take in any Syrian refugees, citing potential legal risks.

Senator Ian Gorst had said at a public debate in September that he hoped five or six families would be accommodated.

Mr Gorst told the States of Jersey that he had been advised that those plans could lead to further UK-based refugees coming to Jersey under the European Convention on Human Rights.

Jersey has instead committed to providing more overseas aid.

The States heard that because Jersey did not have its own asylum process, Syrian refugees would need to come to the island through the UK's Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme.

Crisis 'here to stay'

However, Mr Gorst said that in signing up to the scheme, Jersey would have to offer the same provisions of housing and benefits to all refugees in the UK, or face challenges of discrimination under the European Convention on Human Rights.

He said: Our island would simply not have the capacity to manage the impact on housing stock, on public services, or on the work market."

Head of Jersey Calais Refugee Aid Group, Bram Wanrooij, said it was "a shame" that Jersey would not be taking in any families.

He said: "I think maybe it's an incentive for Jersey to start looking at its refugee policy for the future, because the refugee crisis is here to stay."

Jersey's Overseas Aid Commission has donated £1m since 2013 to charities working near the Syrian borders, including British Red Cross, UNICEF and Oxfam.

The amount of funding for 2016 has not yet been confirmed.

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