This week, the United Kingdom was declared the most LGBT-friendly place in Europe and yet there is one group of people in this country who have little to celebrate: LGBT asylum seekers. Five years ago, the Conservative Party promised that it would protect LGBT asylum seekers fleeing persecution. So far they have failed.
We should bear that fact in mind before denying our responsibilities in this crisis. Migration and asylum claims are part of our modern world and we need to be pro-active in international collaboration between countries of origin, transit and destination in order to preserve the right to seek international protection.
Khaled sits down in what appears to be an awkward position, his back against the wall. Half sitting, half lying. It is how he sat in his cell in Damaskus. During a total of 12 months, locked up in a cell too small to lie down in, and not high enough to stand up, Khaled was tortured by the Syrian Security forces...
The UK has a problem with immigration. Even those who support migration have to concede that there are practical difficulties, such as a squeeze on school class sizes and GP waiting lists in areas where many new people have settled. This has boosted parties such as UKIP where a withdrawal from the EU - and therefore an end to free migration throughout Europe - is one of their major policies.
In the last 15 years, the Mediterranean Sea has transformed into a graveyard for more than 20,000 migrants and refugees searching for protection and a better life in Europe. At least 3,500 people drowned close to European shores in 2014, many of them from Syria, Eritrea or sub-Saharan Africa. Already this year, 500 people have lost their lives at sea, and that's before the summer period when the majority of people attempt the dangerous crossing.
Between now and April 7th, is an opportunity to further understanding of the events and the circumstances of this extreme violation of human rights. And on April 7th we can join with Planet Syria and innumerable groups and organizations in worldwide peaceful demonstrations of every kind to show international solidarity.
In just over six weeks, we'll wake up to a new Parliament. Immigration will doubtless be a prominent and divisive issue in the run-up to the election. What does this mean for the refugees that will come to Britain fleeing war and persecution over the next five years? The welcome we give to refugees to Britain during the next Parliament depends not on the outcome of the election, but on what happens once it is over. Whoever wins we need to impress on them, and on the public, that a fair and just asylum system is the right thing for Britain and the right thing for the asylum seekers that need our support and protection.
If the government wants to prove it's serious about justice and protecting vulnerable people, then it will recognise that the detention estate is a product of the dark ages. Instead of tinkering with processes, Ministers should focus their efforts on consigning the whole system to the history books where it belongs.
Britain can and must provide asylum seekers and refugees with the protection and support they deserve. Its political parties must outline their proposals for an efficient and fair immigration and asylum policy, which reflects our national self-interest and the rights of those feeling war and persecution.
In 2014, the fourth year of the conflict in Syria, a bleak humanitarian situation deteriorated even further. To date, there have been over 200,000 fatalities and one million casualties. Three million people have sought refuge across borders and more than seven million people have been displaced. More than half of the country's population - including five million children - require some form of humanitarian aid. Not only has violence increased, but access to aid has also been restricted. Needs are greater than ever but the aid system is not meeting them. Today, Syria remains the most serious humanitarian crisis in the world.
Mhere is no reason at all for which people should risk their last hopes and often die at sea. The time has come for the EU institutions and Member States to step up their collective action to strengthen rescue operations, provide swift access to asylum procedures to those in need of international protection and increase legal alternatives to prevent people from having to undertake these dangerous sea crossings.
Migration is a fact of life. Humans have moved around the world for hundreds of thousands of years. It's hard to blame someone for wanting to improve his or her circumstances. My parents made the same decision when they realised I had polio. After he came to London my father never saw his parents again. My mum and dad made huge sacrifices for which I will always be grateful.