It is often easy to despair at each piece of news which emerges about the European refugee crisis. The Government is trumpeting an announcement on how it plans to protect refugee children caught up in this crisis, but those working on this issue know too well that the promises made fall short of addressing the needs of the most vulnerable on our doorstep... As long as we continue to turn our backs on children in Europe, we will continue to see more tragedies. We are failing children whose only wish is to grow up in safety.
The complexities of this crisis go beyond the very real human need I saw playing out in Fedeto. Were it faced with this drought alone, the Government of Ethiopia would have a heady, but manageable task. Sadly, all indications of the climate change trajectory suggest that this is not an isolated case of drought, but rather the paradigm for what is yet to come.
As the Director of the UN Agency working with Palestinian refugees in Damascus at the start of Syria's crisis followed by three years leading Save the Children's regional Syria response, I have seen firsthand the results of global political failure and the compromised humanitarian response. It is time to say enough.
A lack of profile sadly does not mean a lack of problems and as the war trundles on, attempts to distribute aid are severely hampered by fighting, damaged ports, closed airports, blocked humanitarian corridors and a country-wide lack of fuel. The figures speak for themselves and behind every one of these statistics is a human tragedy.
Kids get it. They get it totally. This week we asked them what they thought about Save The Children's call to let 3,000 unaccompanied child refugees in Europe, into Britain. We had the quickest ever response to a poll Overnight, 2,275 children registered their vote with 93% of them agreeing with Save The Children.
I am convinced that the UK government must change its stance towards those stuck in northern France in order to save lives. The extraordinary efforts of the volunteers and activists there can only treat the problem and not solve it. Of course charity and donations are essential, yet the solution is a political one and one that is sorely needed and morally required. This would prevent further deaths such as those mourned at the memorial service today.
The UK has led the way in aid to the Syria region, and the government recently took the very welcome step of offering to take in 20,000 refugees living in camps in the Middle East. But we know that Britain can also reach out a hand to some of those who have already made the dangerous journey to Europe, those at-risk children who are on their own this winter. Like those dark days in 1938, children are leaving their homes today without their families because they fear for their lives. Britain can live up to the best of our history by offering them a better future.
As people gather in schools and churches around the country to hear the story of a Middle Eastern family with no place to stay, is there any better response to those who want a clash of civilisations than to say that even in difficult and dangerous times, we stand with the Syrian people, and that refugees are welcome here.
Most of the attention in our education system is paid to the older end - exams and universities. Yet much of the action - in terms of making a difference - takes places at the start. Or even before children arrive at school. Put it this way: if you want better GCSE results, you should invest in nursery education.
Last week in New York over 160 leaders from around the world signed an agreement that will shape all of our destinies and radically change the way we tackle poverty, inequality and climate change. In more than 25 years working in international development, this is perhaps the most pivotal moment I have had the privilege to be part of. A decade and a half after we ushered in a new era with the Millennium Development Goals, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will come into force.
This week world leaders gathering in New York will make decisions that affect the future of billions. These are decisions that could end some of the most prominent issues of our time. Like ending extreme poverty. Fighting inequality and injustice. Fixing climate change. In all countries. For all people. We have a huge opportunity and we must take it.
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.