"Father, how far are they from Baghdad?" asks Husam's 14 year-old son as he sees the military helicopters fly overhead, bringing the injured back from battle. It's a question that makes him very uncomfortable. The "they" is the ISIS, otherwise known as Daash or Islamic State, and reputed to have already infiltrated the Iraqi capital with sleeper cells. Husam could leave. Like other UN staff he's been offered evacuation. And having seen fellow workers lose members of their families and having had to three times repair his house for explosion damage, you wouldn't blame him.
Across the world, there are 108 million people in need of humanitarian assistance, with more people displaced by violence than ever before. These people have had their lives torn apart by war and natural disaster, and many are starving and in dire need of shelters and medical assistance. Most of them are women and children.
On a recent trip across America, I naturally felt like a stranger in a strange land. Things have moved on and changed a lot during the years of my travels. But some things never change, and I found myself in hundreds of casual conversations across the continent, engaging in the same sort of message repeatedly, a message about things I never knew when I grew up there...
Over the past four weeks the world has watched a humanitarian tragedy unfold in Gaza. For UN staff like me it has been particularly tough. Nine of our schools have been attacked, 11 of my colleagues have been killed. They include Ahmed Mohamed Mohamed Ahmed, a school principal, Inas Shaban Derbas, a 30 year-old teacher and the youngest, Abdallah Naser Khalil Fahajan, who at 21 was a school attendant. UN chief, secretary-general Ban Ki-moon called the most recent attack on Sunday, which took place next to a boys' prep school in Rafah and led to nine deaths including that of a colleague: "a moral outrage and a criminal act."
As Israeli missiles lay waste to Gaza, Hamas rockets fly and innocents die in civilian planes downed in eastern Ukraine, Syria has slipped even furthe...
Ending extreme poverty or getting an agreement to reduce climate change means creating complex trade-offs between the interests of countries, companies and citizens and civil society. It involves detailed forecasts, legal texts and new ideas that will galvanise negotiators to agreement. It means putting the UN back in a position of international leadership.
Six out of the world's ten fastest growing economies in the world are in Africa, but their potential will not be realised without long-term improvements to education, health and the opportunity for women to give birth in environments free from violence. The further prize is increased productivity and economic growth.
We owe it to ourselves, and to women and girls worldwide, not to turn away. And thankfully I hear the voice of the world saying enough. People of all nationalities are bringing to light what has historically been one of the most silent and hidden human rights abuses of our time. For this I am grateful and proud.