Key Political and Humanitarian Challenges in the Middle East: joint Caabu and Islamic Relief event with Prince Hassan of Jordan and Sir Alan Duncan

13 January 2015

Jordan’s Prince Hassan and former UK minister for International Development and Caabu Patron Sir Alan Duncan debateKey Political and Humanitarian Challenges in the Middle East” on 12 January 2014 at the discussion and dinner organised by Islamic Relief and Caabu at Church House Conference Centre in Westminster.

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His Royal Highness Prince El Hassan bin Talal of Jordan and the former UK Minister of State for International Development and Caabu Patron , Rt Hon Sir Alan Duncan MP, addressed the major political and humanitarian challenges facing the Middle East at an event that brought together a select audience of diplomats, politicians, academics, faith leaders and community activists.

The event took place as the region struggles with is worst humanitarian crisis yet. Over 29 million people required humanitarian assistance last year, and there is no end in sight to the bloody conflicts in Syria and Iraq and the political stand-off between Israel and the Palestinians. In 2014, Islamic Relief’s programme in the Middle East alone totalled £93m and benefited over 5 million people in Syria (2.2m), Yemen (1.2m), the Palestinian Territories (530,000), Iraq (470,000), Lebanon (400,000) and Jordan (270,000). It has helped to 90m people since its foundation 30 years ago and is currently supporting 38,000 orphans.  

HRH Prince El Hassan bin Talal condemned the Paris attacks and encouraged all to stand in reflection for all the victims of war. He said in his speech that: “Politics of humanity, must take centre stage in the Middle East to restore respect for human dignity. We must galvanise efforts to ensure that policies are put in place that ensure and promote the role of communities and end-users in natural resources management”. He bemoaned the brain drain of the region and called London the “de facto intellectual capital of the Middle East”.

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Sir Alan Duncan called on all Muslims, and indeed all people, to be united in their utter condemnation of last week's murderous atrocity in Paris. “I similarly call on everyone in the UK to stand united against terrorism, and not to drop our standards by taking it out on any of our own citizens who happen to be Muslim.” He also said that the UK desperately needs an enhanced political focus on our own 3 million Muslims, and they should figure strongly in our electioneering. They are not second class citizens, they are not unwanted. The best weapon against home-grown terror and misguided jihadism is a united society in our own country.

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The evening was hosted and the debate chaired by Mehdi Hasan, Political Director of the Huffington Post UK. Along with the two keynote speakers of the night, Caabu Director, Chris Doyle and Dr Mohamed Ashmawey, Islamic Relief’s CEO, debated the way forward.

Chris Doyle reminded that 13m have been displaced in Syria and Iraq, and 27 frozen to death since March 2011. On the Syria crisis, he emphasised above all the psychological toll that it is having on its population, children and adults alike. In Syria, starvation is being used as a weapon of war, he said. Chris urged political progress to address humanitarian concerns. “Without political progress, there will be four or even five million Syrian refugees, more wars on Gaza and sadly even more radical extremism. Standing on the sidelines and watching cannot be an option.”

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For more details about the event, and what was said, you can check on Twitter by looking at the hashtag #MidEastHope.