Saturday, 13 September 2014

International Aid saves lives - historic Commons vote yesterday

The Turn Up and Save Lives campaign had a lot of competing interests yesterday.

I could have gone to Scotland, for obvious reasons: to anyone who reads the blog this matters desperately to me. But I decided to stay in London and support the International Aid Bill.
More about the campaign is set out here:

People sometimes ask - can we afford to give money to refugees, to the vaccine programmes, to help feed the starving?
There are three ways to answer this question.
Firstly, ask yourself - do you give money to charity? Because the reality is that we are looking to give £7 out of every thousand this country makes to a type of charity. That is 0.7%.

Secondly, we are a first world country with wealth beyond the wildest dreams of many. Slowly our country is turning its economy around and balancing our books, and although there have been significant hardships we have clean water, few diseases, a free and superb NHS, welfare for all who slip through the net, pensions for all, a fair judiciary, democracy, law and order, and so much more.
I think the wealthy should help support those in need. The difference this makes to so many is astounding. Examples of the help include:
  • Even in some of the most difficult places on earth, British aid is helping. The British public have dug deep to help children caught up in Syria’s civil war, and their generosity has been ‘match-funded’ by the British government, meaning that together we have reached more than one million children with blankets and other supplies.
  • We really are turning the tide. Since the year 2000 the number of children’s lives lost to malaria has halved. Since 1990 we’ve halved the rate of child mortality overall. There are now only three countries in the world where polio is still endemic. Amidst so much bad news about things we can’t change, it is time to celebrate the things we already have changed, together.
Thirdly, try and see the difference yourself. I wanted to be convinced the money was really reaching the refugees and not being squandered or filtered away in corruption. That may have happened before, but it is not now. Earlier this year, I went to visit the Syrian refugees stranded north of Aleppo, in a British government supported Aid camp. The experience moved me beyond words.  I have seen for myself that our aid helps save lives. The Journal covered the story as follows: