Educate Europe's refugees for rebuilding at home: Dalai Lama

Paris (AFP) –


The Dalai Lama on Tuesday urged Europe to emphasise education for the hundreds of thousands of refugees that have arrived mainly from the war-torn Middle East as a means of rebuilding their home countries.

"Provide them education, particularly for children," the Tibetan spiritual leader told AFP during a visit to France. "Then... eventually these refugees return (to) their own land and rebuild their own countries."

The 81-year-old Buddhist monk appealed to "the real spirit of the European Union", urging the bloc to "consider the importance of the common interest" in dealing with the refugee crisis.

More than one million refugees and migrants have entered Europe over the past year, largely fleeing conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

The 1989 Nobel Peace Prize laureate lamented the "terrible situations" they fled, saying: "Too much killing! And these innocent children (and) old people, I think, suffered a lot."

The Dalai Lama, who fled to India along with thousands of others after a failed uprising against Chinese rule in 1959, said: "We Tibetan refugees... we are all thinking (of a) return to our own country."

Many settled in and around the northern Indian town of Dharamsala where a Tibetan government-in-exile functions that is not recognised by any foreign state.

The Dalai Lama, who is making his first visit to France in five years, will travel to Strasbourg before he leaves on Sunday.

He will not meet with any French leaders during the trip that is focused on inter-faith dialogue, environmental issues and Tibetan culture.

Beijing accuses the Dalai Lama of being a "wolf in monk's robes" seeking Tibetan independence through "spiritual terrorism".