THE Dalai Lama has praised the country’s plan to welcome thousands of refugees but warned that a long-term solution was needed.

His Holiness spoke at Magdalen College during a visit to Oxford yesterday as part of a nine-day UK tour.

Last week Prime Minister David Cameron said the UK would house up to 20,000 refugees and both Oxfordshire County Council and Oxford City Council have since committed to supporting the policy.

It followed a demonstration of more than 1,500 people held outside the Sheldonian Theatre ealier this month that asked officials to welcome more refugees to the city, with another last weekend.

The Dalai Lama said: “This country is 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.”

He added: “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.”

The Dalai Lama is a monk of the “Gelug” school of Tibetan Buddhism and the 14th and current Dalai Lama. Enthroned in 1950, he is the longest incumbent.

His Holiness also paid a private visit to the Dalai Lama Centre for Compassion in St Giles, which opened last year.

He went on to meet more than 50 school children from Orchard Meadow, Pegasus and Windale primary schools at Rhodes House in South Parks Road.

Ebrima Chune, nine, from Orchard Meadow Primary School, said: “I was pleased when the Dalai Lama said that we children are the architects of the world’s future.

“Also, it was unusual for a monk to have a sense of humour.”

A small group of people from the International Shugden Community (ISC) stood outside Rhodes House protesting against the Dalai Lama’s visit.

The ISC says the Dalai Lama is engaged in the alleged persecution of Shugden Buddhists in the Tibetan exile community and that media reports have shown religious intolerance and segregation practices, including signs above shops and medical facilities refusing service to people of Shugden faith.

The Dalai Lama, who is celebrating his 80th birthday this year, is due to go on to Cambridge where he and Lord Rowan Williams will lead a private two-day symposium.