The British dependency of Guernsey has decided not to accept any asylum seekers because the officials could not guarantee their security.
Chief Minister Jonathan Le Tocq said “Islamophobic” behavior is rampant among the citizens of the islands and although most people show compassion towards the refugees, some might be quite unwelcoming. He claimed the bigotry from the locals as well as lack of infrastructure to house the migrants prompted the island's policymakers decided against inviting asylum seekers.
However, not all people are buying it. Journalist and aid worker Eddie Parks have denounced the mayor’s words as “unlawful” and “disgraceful” and questioned Le Tocq's real motive for not housing refugees.
A statement from Guernsey on the migrant crisis said the island provided £230,000 ($333,592) to Syrian aid since 2012.
“Whilst I am disappointed it has not proven possible to assist directly with the resettlement of Syrians under the current U.K. scheme, I am reassured that we cannot rule out the possibility of doing our part proportionately in future should the need arise,” the chief minister said. “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."
This isn’t the first instance of intolerance that the island has shown. In 2014, an advocate living in Guernsey became the victim of firsthand racism when a shop assistant refused to acknowledge her just because of the color of her skin. Although Le Tocq said the issue was being worked on, it would take years to actually address it.
In October, laws announced to stop disability discrimination, a decision made two years ago, were delayed because of “inappropriate staff.” Last year, Guernsey politicians criticized the lack of progress made on equal pay despite the motion as being marked as top priority. To top it all off, Guernsey does not have legislation enabling employees to bring forth charges on the grounds of religious discrimination.
The island was looking to participate in the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme, which offers temporary shelter to migrants but later confirmed it won’t be happening because of a number of legal and practical issues.