A ‘transparent’ government refugees policy is to be worked on

By Gemma Nettle   |   Reporter   |
Thursday 5th May 2022 5:17 am
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Joney Faragher, new leader of the Manx Labour Party - (Isle of Man Newspapers )

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A motion that will see government plan for a more ‘transparent’ policy on the acceptance of refugees in the island has been passed in Tynwald with unanimous support.

Douglas East MHK Joney Faragher, who put forward the original motion, was pleased with the outcome.

The policy was amended by Cabinet Office Minister Kate Lord-Brennan to be that ‘the island would benefit from a transparent and updated policy regarding the acceptance of refugees’ and it would take into account ‘lessons learned from the process of accepting those fleeing the current conflict in Ukraine’.

The most significant change from the original motion was Ms Faragher proposed a date of July 2022 for a report to be submitted to Tynwald on how this could be achieved, but this was altered in the amendment to July 2023.

Ms Faragher said: ‘They’ve given themselves an extra 12 months which is a much longer deadline but I’ll accept it was a short deadline I had given them.

‘I spoke to somebody at immigration and they explained the enormity of the process that they currently use and it would actually be a huge undertaking to look at setting up our own policy, potentially bypassing the UK’s immigration policy.

‘It was explained quite well in Tynwald by Diane Kelsey MLC and Cabinet Office member.

‘She explained there was limited resource in the Cabinet Office just as there is everywhere and at the moment they’re very much focused on how they can support people fleeing from the crisis in Ukraine and actually to put such a short deadline on it would take away from that resource and obviously I don’t want that.

‘I want them to be able to focus completely on this current humanitarian crisis.’

When asked what motivated her to bring it forward, she said: ‘I followed the debate in November 2018 that Daphne Caine brought to the house, which was around Syrian refugees. Her motion actually just requested for a select committee to be set up to look into whether it was feasible for us to bring 25 refugees who were fleeing Syria, which isn’t many when you think about the number now that we’re bringing over.

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‘I followed that and I felt the narrative around it was very sad since it hadn’t been passed. I’m very keen for us to have a policy that would mean we were more consistent in our response.

‘You can see that there’s a clear difference in our response to what happened in Syria and what happened in Ukraine. In our response to Ukraine, I did feel that Manx people are very open-hearted and generously compassionate and want to have a framework in place so that we can support people in the most appropriate way for each situation but that we are applying that consistency in terms of our international obligations as well.’

The MHK felt now was the best time for this to be introduced.

She added: ‘It’s at the forefront of people’s minds. It’s a different Tynwald, this administration is one of the most progressive Tynwalds we’ve had and it did feel like we had a lot of support for it.

‘I think all of this has a knock on effect on how we feel about our island. When we know that we’re taking an action we know will have a positive impact on other people’s lives and it’s on an international stage, that makes us feel proud and brings us together as an island.’

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