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.
When trust in politicians is at an all-time low, we should take comfort in the fact that the parties worked together to keep a promise that featured in each of their manifestos in 2010. As we approach the end of this parliament, we have seen politicians put aside their differences to agree what kind of country they want to build in the next. And I for one want to say thank you.
For every one doctor and three nurses working at an Ebola treatment unit there are approximately 26 water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) staff... The next time you read an interview with an international doctor or nurse newly returned from their deployment and recounting desperately sad, and now too familiar, stories about the struggle and the suffering please give some thought to the many WASH staff who remain.
As it happens, I'm not one of those who believe that Blair is evil incarnate. I met him on only a handful of occasions during his time as prime minister, and I was always left with the impression of a man possessed of almost messianic certainty that he was put on earth to make it a better place and rid it of bad people. I do believe that he made an appalling error of judgement in backing President Bush's decision to invade Iraq in 2003. It was an error that involved the UK in one of the biggest foreign policy blunders of recent times...
The truth is that for any good Tony Blair did whilst in office it will never come close to eclipsing his decision to unleash a war on Iraq in 2003, a decision he took in defiance of the biggest mass movement the world has seen and on the basis not of faulty intelligence so much as a messianic and God-given sense of mission.
The brutal, chaotic, sprawling Syria crisis is now so multi-faceted, with so many layers, even the newsrooms, experts and seasoned aid-workers are struggling to keep up. I've been working on Syria for nearly four years, yet it continues to horrify me with its images of suffering - of starving families, child amputees and torture survivors. It terrifies me with its prospect of longevity - there is seemingly no end to such an intractable war... We must settle more. We should resettle at least 10,000, our fair share of the 180,000+ who need to be resettled in the rich and developed nations.
I write this from Monrovia, Liberia's capital. This country accounts for more than 2,000 of the 3,400 estimated deaths from Ebola across the region, but with cases going unreported, some choosing to die without seeking help, and others succumbing in communities which are barely accessible, that is almost certainly a gross underestimate. UNICEF calculates that around 2,000 children in Liberia have lost both parents to the virus. And what faces a child in this position?
The spectacular GDP growth recorded by some West African countries in the past 5 years is all of a sudden undermined by the spread of the Ebola virus. The epidemic has put under the spotlight the poor conditions of health systems in the region, but also the fragility of economic models measured only by Gross Domestic Product.
It's a bicycle. The only thing I see under the stairs of one small home in the Gaza strip. A girl's small blue bicycle. A bit battered, had seen better days, but just a bicycle. Ahmad*, whose home it is, continues to point at it. I'm thoroughly bewildered. He stares at the bicycle. Then sits down heavily and starts speaking in slow, measured tones...
The psychological trauma inflicted when children lose their parents, see their homes destroyed, or experience torture, is not easily alleviated, particularly when they have to remain in the stressful and unfamiliar environment of a refugee camp. Save the Children's staff see the signs of this in places like Syria and Gaza, from night terrors and bed wetting to children who refuse to speak.
We sleep in the corridors where the building is strongest and jump at the slightest of sounds. The other day my wife put a bottle of water down loudly and I ducked for cover, thinking it was another air strike. Another time we heard a loud whistling noise and ran to the corridor, only to realise it was a car with a high-pitched engine going past. I have feared for my life too many times.
I know what it's like to lose your childhood to war. When I was five and conflict raged in Sudan, my family and I were amongst the lucky ones to leave for Egypt. Four years later we were granted asylum in the United Kingdom. Inspired by legendary South Sudanese basketball player Manute Bol, my siblings and I took up basketball which helped us fit in. Like Manute, I was lucky enough to turn the sport I loved into a career as a professional NBA player in the United States.