Douglas Alexander

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Forty thousand followers of the Yazidi faith are huddling, terrified, on the side of Mount Sinjar, fearing that their women are going to be raped, enslaved or killed. Nearly a quarter of Iraq’s Christians have been driven from their homes in the past week alone. In theory, the Islamic State gave them the choice of converting, paying a fine, or leaving. In practice, many were murdered before they could even make that horrendous choice: the militants have, in the words of Canon Andrew White, vicar of Baghdad, “chopped off heads, chopped children in half, hanged people on crosses. The stories are so bad they don’t sound true”.…  Seguir leyendo »

The international response to the events in Egypt has been uncertain and hesitant. Governments and citizens alike seem to have been caught off-guard by the bloodshed that followed the enforced removal of Mohamed Morsi.

Initially, there was a dispute about acknowledging whether a coup had taken place. I understand the caution in western capitals in the days that followed Morsi's exit: careful language was chosen to try to secure crucial influence with Egypt's new rulers. Those first efforts by European Union and United States officials to try to secure commitments from the generals in their exercise of power and a return to democracy were certainly worth trying.…  Seguir leyendo »

Seeing relatives of the six British soldiers killed last week pay moving tribute to their loved ones brings home the courage and sacrifice of our armed forces and their families. But asking British personnel to risk their lives in Afghanistan is only justifiable if it's in the service of a clear and achievable strategy.

As the prime minister heads to Washington my concern is that he has an end date, but still no end state: no realistic vision of what will be left behind. And in these critical months the scale of military sacrifice does not appear to be being matched by diplomatic effort.…  Seguir leyendo »

The outcome of last week's Brussels summit was economically inadequate and politically damaging for Britain. There was no real plan for jobs and growth, no credible plan for reducing deficits and no steps taken to properly empower the European Central Bank as the lender of last resort. The risk of further economic crisis remains but, inexcusably, the British government did little to address it.

Despite the best efforts of the prime minister to present Friday's meeting as the last word on the issue, we still have the chance to make a bad situation better. There is a common view across Europe, as well as within the UK, that what happened was undeniably bad for business and bad for Britain.…  Seguir leyendo »

Au cours de la décennie écoulée, des progrès considérables ont été réalisés en termes de développement, entraînant de réels avantages pour des millions d’individus parmi les plus pauvres de la planète. Mais ces avancées risquent d’être remises en cause, au moins partiellement, en raison de la menace que fait peser sur elles la crise économique mondiale la plus grave depuis plusieurs générations. Même si la crise financière nous frappera tous, ce sont les plus pauvres qui en souffriront le plus. Parce que les plus pauvres sont aussi les moins capables de se protéger. Les pays en développement, bien que moins affectés dans l’immédiat par la crise, sont plus vulnérables à la seconde vague de ce que l’on a appelé un «tsunami du crédit centennal».…  Seguir leyendo »

A billion people around the world face a stark choice - to drink potentially lethal water or nothing. Sometimes when faced with these huge facts, we can feel that there is nothing we can do to change them.

When I first heard the remarkable story of Pump Aid, I was reminded of something Margaret Mead, the American anthropologist, once said: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.”

Pump Aid is the story of three thoughtful, committed Zimbabwean teachers who saw several students die after drinking contaminated water, and believed that they could make a difference.…  Seguir leyendo »