Monday 26 September 2016

Dalai Lama hails welcome for refugees but warns over use of force

Published 14/09/2015 | 12:23

The Dalai Lama during a visit to Magdalen College, Oxford University, at the start of a 10-day UK visit. Photo: Chris Radburn/PA Wire
The Dalai Lama during a visit to Magdalen College, Oxford University, at the start of a 10-day UK visit. Photo: Chris Radburn/PA Wire

The Dalai Lama has praised Germany's response to the EU refugee crisis, saying the UK's latest pledge to take in 20,000 refugees over the next five years is "wonderful" also.

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The spiritual leader was speaking to members of the press at Magdalen College in Oxford, at the start of a nine day visit to the UK.

When asked about the large influx of refugees crossing the Mediterranean to get to Western Europe from countries like Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, the Dalai Lama said: "I think Germany and Austria have had a very good response. This country (the UK) is also now showing the seriousness of what we have to do - wonderful.

"But we have to think. It's impossible for everyone to come to Europe.

"Ultimately we have to think about how reduce the killing in their countries. And we have to reduce the use of force. The use of force never solved these problems."

Prime Minister David Cameron has said the UK will take up to 20,000 of those most in need from refugee camps bordering Syria.

Mr Cameron was visiting one such camp in Lebanon where war in neighbouring Syria has forced hundreds of thousands to flee their homes.

The UK has come under pressure in recent weeks to do more to help ease the refugee crisis in Europe, where countries like Germany have taken in a disproportionate number of those in need.

The Dalai Lama said: "Taking in a few thousand refugees is wonderful but in the meantime you have to think about a long term solution too - through development and education in these Muslim countries."

His words may be welcomed by the Prime Minister who has said taking in vast numbers of refugees is not the solution but that the UK must work at achieving peace in Syria.

The Government is expected to draw up fresh proposals for UK air strikes in Syria to put before parliament in the coming weeks, but the Dalai Lama stressed the need to find a non-violent solution, saying: "After 9/11 I wrote a letter to President Bush where I expressed my condolences and told him the way to solve this problem was through non-violence. I know his motives were good but he used force and it created unexpected consequences."

The Dalai Lama, who is celebrating his 80th birthday year this year, is due to go on to Cambridge where he and Lord Rowan Williams will lead a private two-day symposium, before then heading to the O2 in London to give a talk on compassion.

Press Association

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