Syria: Clegg continues to push for UK to take refugee responsibilities seriously

Syria has once again returned to the headlines this week, with the warring parties in the country’s civil war beginning formal peace talks in Geneva amid allegations that the Assad regime has systematically tortured and executed about 11,000 detainees since the start of the uprising.

Nick Clegg has, The Guardian reported, been making the case for the UK to take its international responsibilities seriously and join a UN scheme to take a limited number of refugees from Syria:

A source close to the deputy PM said: “Nick Clegg has been arguing for weeks in government that Britain should consider joining a Syrian refugee burden-sharing arrangement. This would be targeted assistance for the most vulnerable. Providing refuge to those in need is one of Britain’s greatest, oldest traditions.

“We are one of the most open-hearted countries in the world and Nick believes we have a moral responsibility to help. The deputy prime minister not only believes the moral case for doing this is overwhelming, he also thinks the political case for action is unarguable as well.

“The coalition government has been the most generous in the world when it comes to helping with the humanitarian crisis in Syria and it would be completely self-defeating to allow ourselves to be painted as the least generous. The Liberal Democrats will continue to make the case around the cabinet table. We have yet to gain the agreement of our Conservative colleagues but we remain hopeful that we will.”

Liberal Democrat sources pointed out that Clegg had pushed for more help for Syrian refugees and urged other countries to give more aid when he addressed the UN general assembly last September.

It was said that he did not have a fixed view of how many refugees the UK should accept but did not expect Britain to be taking as many as the 10,000 planned in Germany. Instead, Clegg had in mind a number similar to the 500 being accepted by France.

Cameron has been reluctant to be directed by a third party on the refugee issue, and feels that Britain took more then some of the countries that have provided little aid would be let off the hook.

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5 Comments

  • Patrick Smith 26th Jan '14 - 7:51am

    The DPM is right to support help to relieve part of the Syrian Refugee Crisis and offer sanctuary for only 500 refugees as part of the UK commitment to the UN emergency strategy, to disperse as many of the 30,000 homeless families from the war zone as is possible.

    The fact that the UK is part of a growing `global economy’ with economic growth forecast at 2.8 over the next year, as a result of successful `Coalition Government’ and the trend towards `globalisation’ is irreversible, means that at least in terms of Overseas Aid at 0.7 % of GDP and in intervention in the international civil war in Syria, the UK, remains at the top table, as a leading UN and EU Member.

  • Oliver Sidorczuk 26th Jan '14 - 7:11pm

    I’m glad to read that Clegg has been ‘arguing for weeks’ that the UK should consider joining a ‘burden-sharing arrangement’ (and that he’s moved on from talking about the 1,500 Syrian asylum-seekers that the UK’s accepted under it’s ‘international asylum obligations’ – see, HC Deb 7 January, col 159). LD4SOS President, Roger Roberts asked for the same in a debate on 9 January (here: http://bit.ly/1jysegJ) – though he’s still waiting for Lord Taylor to fully answer the questions he raised:
    1. What proactive efforts have been made to reunite refugees in the UK with their families?
    2. Will the [Government] make a declaration on the status of Syrian students in the UK?
    3. Does the [Government] agree that only a firm, global or continent-based resettlement programme will offer a durable solution to this crisis?
    4. Amnesty calls on us to accept 10,000 of those in need – does the [Government]?
    5. When the Minister [said] that we cannot possibly have a resettlement programme, where [did] he get his knowledge from – where is the difficulty? The UK has a proud history of providing support in this way, most recently in the Balkans: what has changed?

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