In this first guest blog I am delighted to introduce my friend and international humanitarian campaigner Nigel Ellway. Nigel is one of those people who doesn’t seek publicity, but rather seeks to help people. So beware. He is too modest about himself and too flattering about me. Over to you Nigel.
A question I often hear is “why do we spend so much on international aid?”, often asked by the same people who complain bitterly about the ‘influx’ of migrants and refugees.
International development funding is an extremely complex issue, the motivation and context in which it is given can be very different from country to country.
What concerns me most falls under humanitarian funding, particularly the much needed support for people whose lives have been blighted by conflict and especially explosive violence – people who live in fear, people who have been displaced and those injured or have to support those with injuries.
Victims of explosive weapons
My role for the last decade has been to advocate at an international level for better policy on control of explosive weapons and better funding and support for victims.
In 2015 I needed some new blood for the All Party Parliamentary Group on Explosive Threats I had created in Westminster. Roger Mullin as a fresh faced new MP, with his history of working in the humanitarian sector, was a perfect candidate.
Roger said he could give me ten minutes. We spoke for over an hour and a half, at the end of which I knew I had not just a new group member, but a potential chairman.
Roger and I worked closely together for the two years he was MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath. In that time we ran a landmine and counter IED demonstration on Speakers’ green: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8xYUCURxB34&t=58s;
Roger led a Westminster hall debate on the use of children as suicide bombers: https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201516/cmhansrd/cm151013/halltext/151013h0001.htm#15101340000181;
and he asked the Prime Minister David Cameron what the UK government was doing to prevent young Syrians from joining ISIS: https://www.international-alert.org/sites/default/files/Syria_YouthRecruitmentExtremistGroups_EN_2016.pdf.
In 2016 Roger and I were invited to address the United Nations conference on mine action in Geneva and with our friend the distinguished foreign correspondent David Pratt, we paid two visits to Erbil and Mosul in Kurdistan observing the work of NGOs like Emergency UK, commercial explosive mitigation companies such as OPTIMA Group, and how policy was delivered through bodies such as UNMAS and UNDP. (United Nations Mine Action Service and United Nations Development Programme).
Roger also played a pivotal role in the creation of our not-for-profit advocacy organization: https://revivecampaign.org/,
of which he is now chairman. If any reader would like to assist us in our work I know Roger will be delighted to hear from you.
As Scotland works towards its independence, it has a huge opportunity on the global stage to take the mantle of humanitarian assistance. While the Tory government forsakes its humanity, it is up to people like Roger to fight for compassion in our dealings with people and communities who wish for no more than to live in peace and liberty.
Nigel Ellway is Policy Director of the APPG on Explosive Threats and Founding Director of the REVIVE Campaign.