Around 7.6million Syrian children (within and outside the country) need humanitarian assistance, close to 80% of Syria's child population. Child labour, early forced marriage, exposure to disease, risk of sexual violence - these are all risks that threaten the immediate well-being of Syria's children...
I would not have voted in favour of bombing Syria. ISIL/Daesh is a source of evil, of this I have no doubt. But for me the case for bombing is not proven. Some, including some I greatly respect, say that the traditional Christian criteria for a Just War have been fulfilled. But I cannot agree. Across the world I see the the political reflex to seek quick popularity through warmongering talk, and I abhor it. I believe there is a better way. In the season of the coming of the Prince of Peace let's try and find it together.
Our country's history plainly shows that the long term consequences of doing nothing in the face of fascism are far more significant than the short term comforts of retreating into isolation. So while air strikes may seem like an overly expensive, dangerous and risky gesture of solidarity for France and the other innocents who have died at the hands of ISIS, as I've attempted to show, there is no real alternative...
ISIS, and its warped manipulation of a faith that so many Muslims treasure, needs to be stopped. What they are doing is brutal, bloodthirsty, and vulgar. Our global solidarity against this dangerous group is our greatest weapon, and together, be we Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, atheist or agnostic, we need to harness this might, in order to combat them effectively. Understanding them to the best of our ability, is the first step.
Corbyn should take the Ambassador's comments as a badge of honour and a sign that he's doing the right thing. However, it will take the words and actions of people from across all parties and wider society if the UK is to finally change its policy and end its support for the oppressive and authoritarian House of Saud.
I ask a group of children what they want to be when they grow up. Half raise their hands to be teachers, the rest want to be doctors and engineers. These children are the future. Despite all the challenges, all my visits to the Middle East have been inspiring. As the Palestinian poet, Mahmoud Darwish said, "on this land, we have what makes life worth living." The world failed Aylan. Can we help Amal make her life better?
I leave the region with all the usual feelings, heavy feelings, the same ones people much brighter and more eloquent than me have described through the years. I just have one small, unfurling seed of optimism; knowing that if water could be disentangled from the war, it presents a genuine opportunity for co-operation and relationship building between neighbours. In all the gloom there is a glimmer of hope and it's right there, in the water.