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.


More on This Story

Syria's war War in Syria

Related Stories


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 71.

    @61 Steve

    Fair enough. But you can, surely, understand my irritation at the decidedly unmerciful views espoused here?

    What are the left (Your nemeses :P) fed up about? Well, speaking on my own behalf and only on that - I should say the dearth of balanced opinions.

    Be as horrid as you like, just let me be horrid too :D

  • rate this

    Comment number 70.

    Foreign Secretary William Hague

    == OMG

  • rate this

    Comment number 69.

    It's OK, my 50% tax will pay for them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 68.

    Hopefully the UK's meddling in Syria will bring in large supplies of oil and shale gas. Otherwise, let the Syrians go the way of North Korea. Or am I missing out on the usual left rant about stealing oil from the hard working but honest middle easterners?

  • rate this

    Comment number 67.

    Why do they need to come over here, there are many countries between Syria and the UK, hmm what possible reason could there be.

  • rate this

    Comment number 66.

    62.Roger W - "....we will send them back again when things get better over there?....I doubt it. ......."

    Why would you doubt it?

    There's no evidence to doubt that, if the situation gets better, they could be returned...

    ...furthermore the history of most asylum seekers in the UK is that they are only too desperate to go home once the situation that threatened their lives is over...

  • rate this

    Comment number 65.

    Are the incredibly oil rich Arab countries taking refugees?

  • rate this

    Comment number 64.

    38. Paul of Sutton C
    "Unless I missed something this is not about Assad?"

    Assad is the President of Syria.

    Do keep up.

  • rate this

    Comment number 63.

    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."

    May be tough, but no simpleton .. he has a medical degree.

    Prob. just as 'simple' are the 'fighters' who camp in the towns and launch attacks from there. They have no feelings or regard for the population. Typical warring males.

  • rate this

    Comment number 62.

    Sure, we should do our bit. BUT, of course, we will send them back again when things get better over there?....I doubt it.
    I think it would be better to give money to places like Turkey and other nearby countries to help them with the logistics.

  • rate this

    Comment number 61.

    That's right - call anybody a racist that has a different point of view.
    The rebels are openly in league with Al Quaeda, our avowed enemy. And you want to let these in? Have you forgotten the victims of 7/7?
    And no, I am not BNP. I am just fed up with our politicians.
    Assad at least ran a secular state where different religions could co-exist. Not so now under the rebels.

  • Comment number 60.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 59.

    Surely rich Arab countries would be able to help more? Oh, I see... they don't do anything humanitarian.

  • rate this

    Comment number 58.

    It is tragic what is happening in Syria but I don't think taking refugees is going to achieve much. It would be so small scale as to be almost pointless. Unfortunately, due to Labour's open door immigration policies which I cynically suggest was based on those same immigrants voting for them we are simply do not have room for any more refugees or asylum seekers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 57.

    I apologize for my previously "removed comment". Things got rather too heated!

    I stand by my view that there is a political disparity here, though. Not enough balance, too many right-wingers, yadah-yadah...

    With respect to the issue under question - Why shouldn't we embrace them? We've (The UK) effectively molested the middle East for centuries. We have a debt to pay.

  • rate this

    Comment number 56.

    Syria of today, is the UK of tomorrow.

  • rate this

    Comment number 55.

    Don't bring them here, we have a different culture where we value all different beliefs and traditions as equal. But they are fighting against each others beliefs, which is something we don't want. So let them stay in Syria where they can enjoy their lifestyle without having to change. Interviews with the rebels (activists) usually portray them as being very happy with their lifestyle. Leave alone

  • rate this

    Comment number 54.

    So you want Syrian REFUGEES to come over? Stop been too kind to them if anything happened to us they certainly wouldnt Help us!

  • rate this

    Comment number 53.

    24. astroequation
    I have a brilliant idea. Why don't we English all go somewhere else, like Australia

    I doubt that the Australians would want large numbers of nasty, mean spirited, self centred morons entering their country...

    ==== Also, the thing is changing there, they are not welcome any more, unfortunately, check this

  • rate this

    Comment number 52.


    Even with only a few posts, we've got the 'Nothing to do with us' lot on the go.

    Do you not listen,read,watch ? No Christian Boots on Muslim lands No Crusaders ! we have got the message why have you not ? lets listen to our Muslim leaders ! Oh I know its a bit rich for them to say to considering where they are saying from, never the less we have got it. lets keep out eh ?


Page 28 of 31


More UK stories



Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.