We woke up early for the two hour drive from the city, into the midst of the desert, and there it was... Barbed wire, security and dust; we had our passports and equipment thoroughly checked before entering. As we drove through the camp the vastness of it became clear, sand-coloured shelters in every direction, as far as the eye could see; the homes of 85,000 Syrian refugees.
Today, 15 March, marks five years since the absolutely brutal civil war erupted, leaving Syria a broken and divided country. The figures are shocking: Some 6.6 million people are internally displaced within Syria, and 4.6million have fled, mostly living in neighbouring countries such as Turkey, Lebanon or Jordan.
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.
The international response to what took place and what continues to take place is both a travesty and injustice. Hundreds of thousands of Innocent men, women and children fled to neighbouring countries such as Chad and Cameroon but more than 600,000 people remain displaced inside the country with many trapped inside enclaves they cannot escape.
Countries like Saudi Arabia aren't just buying UK arms, they are also buying political support and very often silence about the human rights abuses they preside over. Changing this will take more than the cancellation of a few licences. It will need a complete overhaul of government foreign policy and an end to the hypocrisy at the heart of it.
Since the conflict escalated in March last year, 30 civilians are made casualties of war every day in Yemen. Houses and hospitals are bombed, whole civilian areas cut-off and under siege, and people are fleeing for their lives on a daily basis. After nine months of fighting, the country is sinking into a disaster of immense proportions and deeply tragic consequences.
Our country's history plainly shows that the long term consequences of doing nothing in the face of fascism are far more significant than the short term comforts of retreating into isolation. So while air strikes may seem like an overly expensive, dangerous and risky gesture of solidarity for France and the other innocents who have died at the hands of ISIS, as I've attempted to show, there is no real alternative...
Consider the word "crisis" in the modern world. Which would be the first geographical region that comes to your mind when you think about "crisis"? Maybe not Europe? At least, perhaps not until recent months, when the region became plagued with two major crises -- the financial one caused by our Greek friends, and the currently trending news item, the migrant crisis.