I visited Za'atari refugee camp and met children who have fled Syria for their lives. I heard the same tales of losing homes, their schools and their friends. And stories of unimaginable violence and danger. These children should be going to school and playing with their friends, dreaming of what they want to be when they grow up. These children are the future of Syria and they urgently need protection and the chance of an education before a whole generation is lost to the conflict.
Segregating societies, isolating nations, closing borders and seizing valuable possessions from vulnerable people is not the answer. The London conference provides a crucial opportunity to show real leadership and to adopt a holistic approach to addressing both the crisis in Syria and resultant flight of hundreds of thousands of human beings to Europe. We can and must rise to the challenge.
Last week I spoke to a Syrian family who had fled the country and spent three weeks travelling to Europe. Now they were waiting for a train in Serbia to take them north towards Germany. When I asked the father why they chose to leave their home at this particular point in time, I was given an answer that haunts me.
Refugees are and should be welcome in the UK and other EU countries. They deserve better than this frankly appalling treatment. They're not trying to 'scrounge' from us. They're not just a 'bunch of migrants', like David Cameron said last week. They're people. It's time that they're given the help that they so desperately need.
I believe the London Conference can be a turning point for the Syrian people who have endured so many horrors since war engulfed their country. One conference can't end the fighting or undo the suffering but it can be the moment when we rise to an unprecedented challenge with an unprecedented response. In London I want the world to offer a different story on Syria and a new vision of hope to its people. This is an historic opportunity and the whole world must grasp it.
I am certain politicians of all parties would agree that young families should not be left to live like those currently in the camp at Grande Synthe. In supporting the work of MSF and others, we hope both the UK and French Governments will assess the humanitarian need at the camps and provide assistance.
Being in a band means there isn't always much we can do to help causes through our work. So if we're asked, we try to take the opportunities. What's going on in Syria at the moment is so obviously pertinent, so present. The politics are enormously complicated and we don't profess to know half enough about it. But at its core is the biggest humanitarian crisis of our lifetime, and human beings who simply want to survive, who want their children to be safe. So, we and some other great musicians are doing a little gig this Friday 22nd to help raise money for Syria (we're DJing).
'Happy New Year!'. 'HNY2016!'. 'Kull a'aam wa enta bi-khayr'. It's that time of year when people give each other a boost and wish them well for the year ahead. Syrians remain incredibly generous in wishing me, 'love, peace and happiness' for 2016. I return the favour, usually with an invocation that Syria see peace, or at least a better year than last year. How hard can that be? Well, hope for peace was in short supply in early 2015. Early 2016 looked better