In the last few days, with the spotlight shining on Britain's relationship with China, there have been only warm words from David Cameron about "a dialogue of mutual respect and understanding". As Mr Cameron was still in the country, Tibetan nomad Kunchok Tseten set himself alight in protest against China's rule...
The tragedy and loss brought on by the devastating Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines has triggered an overflow of generosity from the British public along with acres of media coverage. However quietly fading away from the daily headlines, Syria is also watching its children's futures cruelly slip away from them.
The impending elections in January 2014 can further the disparity, simply by leaving the choice between devil and the deep sea. Enchanted as always, other countries will watch this voyeurism of poverty and political instability with only as much concern and curiosity as the election results unfold post polling, just to see if their predictions were close enough.
Sierra Leone should be one of the most prosperous countries in West Africa, with its diamonds, iron ore and bauxite reserves. Yet, the vast majority of its people live in grinding poverty, and the country has the fourth highest maternal mortality rate in the world. On health, though, it is making progress.
I know I will leave here one day, perhaps soon. I have long been cleared, for six years now. But what of the other men here? Again, I worry about the 80 people who have not been cleared more than I do about myself and the other 83 who have. Some might get a trial of sorts, but scores never will. They say it's because they can't use the evidence against them in court. Even if we believe this excuse, we might well ask why the evidence is inadmissible - is it because they tortured the men? If so, then a thousand years of experience tells us that the statements are certainly unreliable, and probably false.
Working under this kind of pressure also requires that we overcome hurdles together and that we celebrate successes, big or small. It's amazing to see the group spontaneously applaud their colleague for getting a record number of concept notes in, for getting those airplanes to deliver the food to the far flung areas or for winning a big grant from an institutional donor...
Another Syrian refugee, nine year old Samar from Daraa, drew a woman who was smiling and crying at the same time, holding a flower in one hand while her other hand was missing. When Samar talked, she alternated between sharing the feelings of fear and hopelessness she experienced in Syria and the security and stability she is now feeling in Lebanon.
Shezanne Cassim has been living in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) since 2006, having moved there after graduating... In October 2012 he made a 19-minute mockumentary about a fictional martial arts school that teaches people how to throw sandals in a joke about young people in Dubai who call themselves gangsters but are in fact known for behaving well.
It was announced that Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda have agreed a joint tourist visa, opening up all three countries to visitors, much like the Schengen visa system in Europe. Sadly the visa does not yet include Tanzania, which means visitors will now have to pay extra for the Tanzanian leg of their East African safari, but hopefully this will change in the due course.
To what extent should an employer's religious beliefs affect the rights of its employees? You're quite correct - they shouldn't. Once you pass from the private sphere into the public sphere - the marketplace, for example - employees are protected from the whims of employers by the law. This is fairly straightforward stuff, yet amazingly this simple premise is set to be challenged in the US.
When I hear critics of the World Trade Organization, I'm increasingly reminded of the great moment in Monty Python's Life of Brian where a bunch of would-be Judean rebels ask "what have the Romans ever done for us?"... Fast-forward to the present day and criticisms of the WTO might well be met with a similar riposte.
When we drank our first San Miguel Light on Siargao Island to toast our small victory against the travel overlords, the sense of relief among our group was muted. We'd just reached the Philippines for a two-week beach, spa and city break, just a week after Typhoon Haiyan devastated the centre of the country, 70 kilometres north of our first stop.
On the way to Salcedo we passed through several towns - all affected to varying degrees by the power of the typhoon. The worst was Hernani - most houses had been washed out to sea or destroyed. The ashphalt had risen up together like mountain ranges combining - the force required to do that is incredible.
The corporate sector must play a lead role in helping to change priorities, to save our planet and create more hope. But this can only be accomplished if individuals within the corporate sector, and for that matter the government sector, are willing to change their attitudes, not be overly greedy and consider what might be best for those most impacted, those living in poverty and asking "them", and civil society, what they want.
The team in charge of installing the inflatable hospital is arriving. It's with real joy that I meet up with old friends. Eric, my firm friend from Quebec with whom I already shared adventures in Burundi and Haiti. I had bumped into Daniel the mechanic in Nigeria, Damien the Aussie in Niger, Aurélie the electrician last summer when we were carrying on a vaccination campaign in a refugee camp in South Sudan.