overseas aid

In Myanmar just six months ago I met a young Rohingya woman called Fatima. She lived in Ye Thei, a Muslim village in central Rakhine State. She and her family had been displaced from their home due to conflict and been moved by the authorities into Ye Thei - what is known as a 'relocation village'.
The past year has seen a barrage of media attacks on overseas aid, portraying it as badly spent, wasteful or ineffective. In just one recent example, an indignant Sun reported how Britain's national security chief has launched a new review of overseas aid "to stop so much taxpayers' cash being wasted".
While I moved on twenty years ago, a little piece of Ukraine climbed into my heart and has stayed there. So much so that my first novel, The Road to Donetsk, was set in Ukraine.
When MPs debate the UK's aid target today, I hope we are presented with a full picture of the pros and cons of aid spending. I'm proud that Britain hasn't turned its back on the world's poorest - the fact that the rest of the world has not yet followed suit is a reason to carry on, not retrace our steps. We can and must continue to do better, but there should be no doubt that British aid is transforming the lives of millions of the most vulnerable people on the planet.
Amid all the recent headlines around the UK's overseas aid, there was one very positive one last week: evidence of tens of millions of lives transformed.
What would be madness is slashing the very budget focused on tackling the gross poverty, instability and insecurity that threatens our national and global security, drives people to flee their countries to drown in the Mediterranean, but most importantly - degrades us all as human beings.
Monday marked the end of a long wait. 45 years, to be exact. The International Development Bill passed its third reading - the last step before Royal Assent. The Bill will enshrine in law the UK's commitment to invest 0.7 per cent of our national income (GNI) in international aid. But who is celebrating?
Through our support for Overseas Aid, Britain saves a life every two minutes and today an overwhelming majority of MPs voted to guarantee it in law. Spending just 70p out of every £100 in tax collected is changing the face of our planet - to the betterment of the world's poorest and yes, to us too.
Please join me in this call to ensure our leaders step up to the mark and fulfil their promise, it's time politicians keep their promise to 0.7% by enshrining it UK law - a moment that we can hopefully look back on someday and celebrate as a nation for years to come.
The political commitment is there and the achievements are clear. But in a time of austerity, where poorer people are suffering increased deprivation in the UK, why should we be giving so much money to overseas aid and then enshrining that giving in law?