A child refugee who went on to become a UK Lord is to visit the island in a renewed effort to convince Jersey to become a home for unaccompanied youngsters fleeing war and persecution.
Labour’s Lord Alf Dubs hopes to deliver a message of compassion to islanders and politicians as he arrives later this month with members of charity Safe Passage UK as part of a visit organised by local charity ‘Jersey Cares; Refugee Aid Group’ (JCRAG).
The Lord was himself a child refugee, having fled Prague along with 10,000 Jewish and other children rescued by the Kindertransport in 1938 when he was just six years old.
Now a member of the House of Lords, he has been advocating for refugees for many years and is leading efforts to help a new generation of child refugees in Europe.
Pictured: Lord Dubs was a child refugee, but went on to become a member of the House of Lords.
He launched the Alf Dubs Children’s Fund with the support of Safe Passage UK, a charity that helps unaccompanied child refugees and vulnerable adults find safe, legal routes to sanctuary to carry forward the legacy of the Kindertransport.
It’s this background that has made him a passionate advocate for such children, launching a scheme in the UK in 2016 which helped find hundreds of unaccompanied minors find homes.
Lord Dubs has since extended the challenge of helping the vulnerable group to Britain’s Crown Dependencies of Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man, arguing that they are “wealthy” enough nations to share responsibility.
In November last year, that call was followed up by St. Helier Constable Simon Crowcroft, who urged the Council of Ministers to deem accepting child refugees to the island a strategic priority.
Pictured: Constable Simon Crowcroft, who has previously pushed for child refugees to be accommodated in Jersey.
“It has been pointed out that Jersey has supported the plight of refugees and others suffering abroad in various war zones, and in countries affected by drought and famine. This is entirely true and is to be commended... However, our overseas aid, and the many other generous activities carried out for the benefit of the least well-off abroad, does not, in my view, absolve us from considering whether we should follow the example set by other prosperous communities of offering homes to an appropriate number of child refugees,” the Constable argued.
A vote on the matter was later called off following a promise from the Chief Minister, Senator John Le Fondré, that officials were looking into how legal hurdles might be cleared to make it possible.
Lord Dubs’ visit on 21 March at Hautlieu School at 19:15, during which he will answer questions from islanders on the topic, aims to push the government to fulfil that pledge.
JCRAG said they fully believe Jersey "should offer sanctuary to a small number of unaccompanied refugee children", but acknowledged that some islanders may have questions about "how such a scheme would work and concerns over the ability of Jersey to accommodate these children and to offer them all of the support that they will undoubtedly need”.
Pictured: Laura Ridley chairs the Jersey Cares; Refugee Aid Group (JCRAG).
They hope that Lord Dubs' visit will help answer some of those questions.
The charity commented: "There are so many reasons to come and hear Lord Dubs speak. He is a compassionate man with a fascinating life story. Come along to hear first hand about his experience as a child refugee and his experience and commitment helping child refugees today.
"This promises to be a fascinating evening with an opportunity to hear from Lord Dubs and ask him questions about his life, his passion and his thoughts on how Jersey could support the plight of child refugees."
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