Throughout the summer, many people have written to me about the situation in Syria and the ongoing conflict and humanitarian crisis. Many have been about speculation that the UK Government is considering participating in military action in Syria. More recently, even more have focused on the huge refugee crisis which has been unfolding. Here I give some of my thoughts on both issues.
The scenes in Calais and its impact on the South East of England and on Cross channel travel this summer have not been isolated problems. They are a stark reminder of how issues stemming from thousands of miles away, if left unresolved can affect us. The heart-breaking scenes we have seen more recently across Europe and the Mediterranean have further underlined the scale of the human tragedies involved. I hope this response gives you some idea of how I think we should be facing up to those issues.
Sweden, a country with a population of under 10 million, has taken in almost 65,000 Syrian refugees, the UK has processed just 7,000. That’s fewer than Austria, Hungary, Denmark and the Netherlands. You can see an interactive map here.
I stepped back in time this week, taking to WaterAid’s Victorian Street to mark 150 years of Britain’s modern sewers. I was exposed to the sights and smells of an era in which sewage and waste littered our streets, roads and rivers.
Over a third (39%) of the world’s population today still live without sanitation, this is why supporting international developed and UK Aid is so crucial, and why charities like WaterAid are so important.
Last month, the Amnesty International Group in Bournville, South Birmingham, asked me to address them on my work as a member of the International Development Committee of the House of Commons. This article taken from what I said to the meeting.
After 8 years on the International Development Select Committee (IDC), my appointment as Shadow Transport Minister means I have had to recently step down from the role. I wanted to use this opportunity to share some of my thoughts from my time on the Committee – which serves to scrutinise the policy, administration and spending of the Government’s Department for International Development (DFID).
Today the House of Commons Committee on Arms Exports, that I am a member of, publishes a report concluding that the UK’s human rights policy is being fundamentally undermined by the scale and nature of arms exports licences being approved by the Government. It also finds that the situation in Israel and the Occupied Palestine Territories is of severe concern.
There is enough food in the world to feed everyone. But every year 2.3 million children die from malnutrition. If we’re going to put a stop to this global injustice we need radical change.
Hosting the G8 in Northern Ireland today and tomorrow (17-18 June), the UK once again has the opportunity to demonstrate its ability to show global leadership.
Alongside hundreds of charities and Ivan Lewis, Shadow International Development Secretary, I have been calling David Cameron to use the summit to achieve a commitment by all the G8 countries to meet their aid targets, tackle tax havens and tax avoidance, and fight for greater transparency.