Last updated: 6 February, 2016

Guernsey cannot take in Syrians ‘due to Islamophobia’, minister says

The Channel Island of Guernsey could not take in any of the Syrian refugees flooding Europe due to "Islamophobia" in the British dependency, its chief minister said.

“Negativity” would make it difficult to provide them with security, Jonathan Le Tocq said, according to the BBC.

“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 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.”

Guernsey’s policy council — part of its executive — announced Thursday that following a review of the island’s infrastructure, it could not take part in Britain’s relocation scheme for Syrians fleeing the five-year war in their homeland.

Guernsey, which lies in the English Channel around 50 kilometres (30 miles) off the north coast of France, has a population of around 65,000.

The island is not a part of the United Kingdom but a British crown dependency with its own laws and parliament.

“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 said.

Guernsey’s larger island neighbour Jersey, a fellow crown dependency, said in December it would not take in any Syrian refugees, citing legal issues that could threaten its ability to cope in future if it joined the UK scheme.

The Guernsey Overseas Aid Commission has provided £230,000 ($335,000, 300,000 euros) to agencies delivering aid in and around Syria since 2012, the policy council said.