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UK ‘working on Syria refugee plans’

Foreign Secretary William Hague. Picture: PA

Foreign Secretary William Hague. Picture: PA

FOREIGN Secretary William Hague has said that the UK Government is looking at how it can take in vulnerable Syrian refugees.

Home Secretary Theresa May is working on the plans and the Government will have more to say in the coming days, according to Mr Hague.

He said Prime Minister David Cameron did “open the door” to the possibility of Syrian refugees being welcome in the UK after signalling he was happy to look at the argument for helping people who do not belong in camps.

And Mr Hague said he believed there is a case to help the most vulnerable people.

Pressure to help refugees

The Government has come under increasing pressure to change its stance from Labour plus Tory and Lib Dem MPs.

Immigration Minister Mark Harper last week insisted the United Nations programme for resettling vulnerable Syrians in safe countries only provides token relief and Britain would not join it.

Mr Cameron also told Prime Minister’s Questions that he believed Britain was leading the world in delivering aid to Syria and was meeting its obligations to asylum seekers.

He rebuffed calls from Labour leader Ed Miliband to sign up to the United Nations refugee quota scheme although accepted there are “very difficult cases of people who don’t belong in refugee camps”.

Mr Cameron signalled he was ready to take in some of the most vulnerable refugees from camps in and around Syria.

Labour responded by announcing it would stage a vote on Wednesday calling for Britain to sign up to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees appeal for Western countries to accept 30,000 of those trapped in the region.

‘More to say soon’

Addressing Mr Cameron’s comments, Mr Hague told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show today: “He did open the door and the Home Secretary is working on that and we’ll have more to say on that in the coming days.

“I think there is a case for particularly helping people who are particularly vulnerable.”

Asked if this was a reference to Christians, Mr Hague said: “Well, no, well that’s what the Home Secretary is working on - how we try to help people who actually might need to get away from that region altogether, who are particularly vulnerable to violence... this is still being worked on, so we’ll have to let, the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary will discuss that further.

“But we are looking at such a scheme. I do want to emphasise though that whatever we can do on that our main effort to help people will remain what we do out there.

“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.

“And you can only do that out there in the region, that’s got to remain our main effort.”

Sources close to Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg insisted last week that the Liberal Democrats have been “arguing for weeks” in Government for Britain to play a part in the United Nations sanctuary scheme designed to help those in greatest need.

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