UK 'working on' Syria refugee plan, Hague says


Foreign Secretary William Hague says government is working on plan for "vulnerable" Syrian refugees to come to the UK

The British government is "working on" a plan to allow some Syrian refugees to come to the UK, Foreign Secretary William Hague has said.

He said Home Secretary Theresa May was looking at how to help "particularly vulnerable" people trapped in Syria.

He did not comment on particular groups to be helped, but said more details would be given "in the coming days".

Mr Hague added there was a "serious danger" of radicalisation among people returning to the UK from Syria.

Labour said the government should speed up its response and sign up to a UN resettlement programme.

Speaking on BBC One's Andrew Marr Show, Mr Hague was asked if "vulnerable" people meant particular religious groups such as Christians, but he refused to confirm that and said: "This is still being worked on."

'Very difficult cases'

Mr Hague said Britain's "main effort" in the Syrian conflict would continue to be helping people inside the country.

"British aid is helping a third of a million of people with people every day, a million with drinking water, a third of a million a month with medical consultations," he said.

A young boy and a man on crutches stand in a street full of rubble Mr Hague said Britain was looking at how to help vulnerable Syrians
A man carrying a gun runs along a wrecked street Peace talks to end the fighting began in Switzerland on Wednesday
Two men with guns kneel behind a barrier of sandbags More than 100,000 people have died since the conflict began in 2011

On the subject of radicalised people returning to the UK from Syria, Mr Hague stressed the issue was a "serious danger".

He said British people should not go to Syria "under any circumstances" and those who did could have their passports or permission to remain in the UK removed.

His comments come as Syrian government and opposition delegations take part in a second day of face-to-face peace talks in Geneva. They are expected to discuss prisoner releases.

Commenting on the talks, Mr Hague said the "real test" would be whether the regime would "engage on setting up a transitional government".

He said the opposition - to their "great credit" - had accepted the possibility of a transitional body containing both opposition and regime members.

But he said the "biggest sticking point" was President Bashar al-Assad's refusal to stand down.

"Nobody really, rationally can imagine Syria ever being led again - after this terrible oppression and murder and death of so many people - by the same person."

'Inching forward'

At Prime Minister's Questions this week, David Cameron said the UK had taken "over 1,000 asylum seekers from Syria in recent months".

He said almost half of Syria's nine million people were "displaced or at risk of displacement", and the problem could not be solved by other countries taking in "a few hundred refugees".

But he said he was "happy for us to look at that argument" in "very difficult cases of people who don't belong in refugee camps", such as those left disabled by the fighting.

Meanwhile, Labour has tabled a motion, to be considered by MPs on Wednesday, calling on the government to sign up to the UN resettlement programme for Syrian refugees.

Responding to Mr Hague's comments on Sunday, shadow home Secretary Yvette Cooper said the government was "inching forward" but said ministers must do "much more and quickly".

"The UN have made it clear that torture victims, abandoned children and other vulnerable refugees will struggle to survive or cope in [refugee] camps and need to be given sanctuary elsewhere," she said.

"I urge the government to back our motion and vote in Parliament on Wednesday to properly help these vulnerable refugees."

Asked how many refugees the UK should take, Ms Cooper said the government should "look at how many places we can provide".

Syria's civil conflict has claimed well over 100,000 lives since it began in 2011.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 51.

    It is not inhumane to state that other countries near to Syria are capable of taking care of refugees. There is no need to move them thousands of miles into a totally different climate and culture. There are rich countries near that can provide refuge. I am content we use overseas aid to further support that. Otherwise keep out of this situation.

  • rate this

    Comment number 50.

    If the UK allowed Christian refugees from Syria who are running from Al-Qaida inspired rebels, then it would make sense.
    But somehow I suspect this is not what the government is planning (as this would be viewed as "racist" as if religion is the same as a race). And the refugees that would be arriving to the UK might even be supporters of Al-Qaida.

  • rate this

    Comment number 49.

    How many refugees are,Iran taking?

  • rate this

    Comment number 48.

    No send them to Saudi Arabia & the Gulf -- They caused it They should clean up the mess.

  • rate this

    Comment number 47.

    "It is pretty close to bulgaria, I thought they were all for migration?"

    Then that shows just how easily your thoughts are shaped, by those who wish to shape them, to whatever ends.

  • rate this

    Comment number 46.

    All countries have their civil wars, they are never very nice. Provide safe areas inside the countries borders for all those who don't want involvement. Syria is a vast country and has huge areas that have not even been effected by this war. Bringing the problem overseas is not the answer. Foreign involvement is best kept out of civil wars.

  • rate this

    Comment number 45.

    The Tories are at it again I bet they won't be moving in next door to him or his mate IDS with 7 bedrooms in a country mansion! But there's a bit of room now since they introduced the Bedroom tax! IT'S A SHAME YOU DIDN'T REMIND LORD FAUNTLEROY FLASHMAN & GIDEON, IT'S 30 YRS AGO TODAY THAT THE TORIES ANNOUNCED 3M UNEMPLOYED! I bet the homeless & the NHS are over the Moon TOUGH ON IMMIGRATION HA HA

  • rate this

    Comment number 44.

    It is not very easy to take William Hague seriously. He falls in to the 'Michael 'Gove category of politician. Full of fine words and sentiment, but have absolutely no idea what they is talking about. When will politicians require reverent qualifications before being put into important roles that effect peoples lives?

  • rate this

    Comment number 43.


    I dont think you'd pass entry tests.

    Ignorant stupidity is not a sought after quality in Australia.

    The inhumanity of some on HYS is evidential of the need for some form of breeding licence, long overdue

  • rate this

    Comment number 42.

    I'm genuinely sorry for the Syrian refugees but why do they have to come here?

    The Gulf States have more money than I could shake a stick at - let them look after their own.

  • rate this

    Comment number 41.

    What about their brothers in the Arab League? They speak the same language, have the same culture, etc. Why are WE taking yet more of the world's displaced, oppressed and dispossessed?

  • rate this

    Comment number 40.

    All about immigrants coming here! Immigrants have always come here and other countries! The English are a mixture of immigrants, the Welsh were here beforehand, also came from abroad. Over 1m Brits in France, more in other countries. UK in living memory manipulated events in the Middle East, organising coup d'etats in Iraq and Iran in 50's. We used Assad to torture people the early 2000's. Grow up

  • rate this

    Comment number 39.

    The British government is "working on" a plan to allow some Syrian refugees to come to the UK, Foreign Secretary William Hague has said. "We just need to agree now how much money they have before we let them in."

  • rate this

    Comment number 38.

    "25.Knut Knutsen
    Assad has got to go.
    He may look like a harmless simpleton but he is the reason why Syria is well on its way to becoming a failed State."

    Unless I missed something this is not about Assad? But it is about The POSSIBLE acceptance of people in need...lets just wait & see shall we

  • rate this

    Comment number 37.

    I'm sick of our Government using the struggling Tax payer's money to get involved in a War, which has nothing to do with us. William Hague's position as Foreign Secretary is a joke. I don't know how you can try and make things right abroad, when you can't get it right at home. The world isn't perfect, but it actually shows how out of touch these rich 'want for nothing' people are.

  • rate this

    Comment number 36.

    Although I sympathise and wouldn't necessarily disagree with some of the most vulnerable being helped.
    I'd just like to see our Gov put as much effort in to helping the extremely vulnerable in this country to.

  • Comment number 35.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    I don't care. We didn't cause the war. We are not the nearest safe haven. We are supplying humanitarian aid. That is enough. They are religious extremists If they come here they will choose to hate us for being different and one day turn and bite the hand that feeds them.
    We have enough terrorist cells active in Britain from countries that we have offered asylum to. No more.

  • Comment number 33.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    I still have no idea why this is any of our business, lets keep our oar out of these local conflicts; its not like our past record of interference has delivered any good.

    Aid to countries supporting refugees is as far as we should go, any refugees we take will be tokenism - 30000 out of 1m.

    Oh and good on Labour never one to put our interests before a chance to score cheap publicity points.


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