The emotional torment of fleeing your home is not easy to describe. I remember arriving at London Heathrow airport like it was yesterday. It was a freezing cold December night and I could not think straight. I felt so sad and guilty at leaving my parents behind. But equally I was happy and relieved to be in a safe place. I never wanted to leave Syria. I never thought that, some four years later, I would have a new life in Yorkshire. What makes someone abandon their home and travel over land and sea for a better future? In recent days, there has been so much focus on refugees around the world. I am a 'refugee'. But first and foremost, I am a person.
Heads of states come and go and, as recent events in Europe show, in a rapidly changing world, that seems to be the only opportunity for compromise and peaceful transition toward the new global realities. Yet if Erdogan would still manage to eat his cake and have it too, perhaps to everybody's surprise, he will be able to surpass Ataturk's legacy too.
Building such community peace at the grassroots is not easy, and too often overlooked. But in 2017, with so much uncertainty about where governments are going, it is vital. And we need to make sure that the voices of all those who believe in justice and peace, and in caring for our planet, are heard loud and clear.
We need change that builds, rather than destroys. That means controlling arms supplies as the Arms Trade Treaty already requires governments to do. It means offering a refuge to those fleeing violence and persecution, as the Refugee Convention has for decades prescribed. We must also develop a Global Compact on Migration, to protect migrants, so often as vulnerable as refugees, and to manage migration for the benefit of all. If the terrible events of 2016 are not to be repeated, the calls for change to make the world more secure and inclusive must be heard and acted on. Nadi's experience may seem a million miles away from ours but we share the same thread of laws and norms that are supposed to keep us safe. Ultimately we are all in this together.
Aleppo is not an evacuation of communities from danger to a place of refuge. It is the forced displacement of civilians from their homes. The point-blank shooting of civilians dragged from their homes by Regime soldiers and militias as reported by the UN. This is no evacuation, this is ethnic cleansing... The world has watched on as ethnic cleansing took place in Syria. We should be ashamed. The people of Aleppo continue to suffer, but does the world continue to care?
When I met Leen in Giza a few days ago, it was clear that at just 25 years old with three children aged 10, nine and four, she has learnt to be very strong from a young age. Having only arrived in Egypt a few weeks ago and still dealing with trauma herself, she has already started working as a teacher, providing vital psycho-social support and education to children who have experienced the same horrors as she did in Syria and along that 'Death Road'.