War On Want: Fighting Global Poverty
War On Want: Fighting Global Poverty is an organization based out of London that is working to fight “the root causes of poverty, inequality and injustice.” The organization was founded after a letter was written by Victor Gollancz to the newspaper The Guardian in 1951. In his letter, he wrote about the need to end the war in Korea and asked readers to send him a postcard saying ‘yes’ if they agreed with him.

Ever since the ’50s, War On Want has been fighting against the root causes of many different issues in radical ways. Executive director John Hilary says they work to keep, “strong links with social movements in the global South help keep our politics where they should be, in the tradition of radical resistance.”

This, in turn, is how War on Want is seen as more of an alternative organization in comparison to other British nonprofits, which tend to have ties to business and the state. The organization works to fight the root reasons that poverty exists in the first place, rather than the symptoms of poverty. Much of its work is development-related. War on Want is in alliance with trade unions, overseas grassroots movements and a variety of funders, including networks and coalitions.

Some examples of the many projects that War on Want has worked on and accomplished over the years includes wage increases for Zambian agriculture workers, protecting human rights activists around the world and playing a role in the first anti-drone demonstration.

Perhaps the largest actions the organization is currently working toward are issues in Israel, including ending illegal detention and trade of arms. Nearly three-quarters of every pound donated goes towards its campaigns — the last quarter going towards “building the movement.”

Shannon Elder

Photo: Flickr

Many refugees in Calais, France are using any means possible — most of them using rather dangerous means — to make their way to Britain in hopes of a new life.

Hundreds of thousands of immigrants sit in refugee camps in Calais waiting to make their next attempt into the United Kingdom. Many of these individuals have traveled all the way from Africa, the Middle East and some from even further away. For most, sanctuary in Britain is the last stop on a very long journey that may have lasted for months, with hopes that a better life and more opportunities await them on the other side of the English Channel.

In France, where many migrants await the next move, which may potentially land them in Britain, lie refugee camps filled with hundreds of thousands of migrants from all around the world. Many have fled injustice and corruption within their native countries, such as that of Sudan, Eritrea and other crime-ridden and infamously violent nations.

Within the camps are volunteers and medical staff to help those who have been injured or have fallen ill throughout their long journeys. Nurses in the camps have recounted a number of cases where individuals have even been hit by trains and fallen off moving trains while trying to make their way across the Channel. This is a horrific image to imagine, but it is the reality of the extent people in these circumstances are willing to go to make it to their final destination. The legitimacy of their travels is backed by the success of others. An estimated 40 people actually make it across each day, though the numbers have varied greatly. Those who have been successful give those still struggling the hope they need to keep going.

With all these people from around the world flooding the entrance to the United Kingdom, both Britain and France have asked for more intervention, particularly from other members of the European Union. The French government has upped its security measures by increasing the number of police officers at the French side of the Channel as well as implementing other new security means. However, with the number of migrants in the hundreds of thousands at least, and a handful of migrants making their way to the UK each day, there obviously is a need for more assistance in order for the two countries to maintain border security.

This issue has been going on since the beginning of June, and a recorded 10 migrants have died in the journey specifically from Calais to the other end of the Channel. This is an issue of international security for which no clear solution has been found thus far, neither the migrants seeking refuge nor the European nations themselves.

Alexandrea Jacinto

Sources: The New York Times, BBC
Photo: The New York Times

Income inequality is one of the biggest issues facing the world today. There is not a nation on Earth that is not affected by it in some way or another. The United Kingdom is currently facing a food crisis of national proportions with hundreds of thousands having to access emergency shelter food. Income inequality is also driving a wedge deeper and deeper in the British economy, making daily life even more difficult for working class families.

According to a study that was published by the charity organization Oxfam, the United Kingdom’s richest .1% have had their own personal incomes grow by over four times what the lowest 90% of Britain’s population have. Oxfam’s study used Forbe’s latest list of billionaires, and goes on to say that the United Kingdom’s five richest families have a total worth of over 28.2 billion pounds while the lowest 20% of the United Kingdom’s population only accumulated 28.1 billion pounds.

The Duke of Westminster topped the list of the top richest families in the United Kingdom. Gerald Cavendish Grosvenor is worth over 7.9 billion pounds and owns over 100 acres in London and Belgravia. The second highest were the Reuben brothers who are deal in extremely profitable metal business deals. Their company Trans World Metals, at its peak, controlled over 5% of the world aluminum supply. The third family on the list are the Hinduja Brothers who are worth over 6 billion pounds. The Hinduja brothers gained their fortunate by creating the Hinduja Group, which is conglomerate that oversees more than 21 companies that range from banks, to transportation systems, to chemical plants.

The fourth richest family in Britain is the Cadogan Family; the Viscount and Viscountess of Chelsea and their net worth of over 4 billion pounds. The fifth name on the list is Mike Ashley, owner of the prestigious football club Newcastle United who brought up the rear at 3.3 billion pounds.

The wealth that these families have accumulated is both astounding and impressive. However, in 2014 one of the biggest issues to both world leaders and citizens alike is the ever present issue of income inequality. The World Economic Forum declared that income inequality is one of the biggest threats that the world is facing today. Jennifer Blanke, the World Economic Forum’s Chief Economist cited the Arab Spring, as well as recent issues in both Brazil and South Africa as examples of how “…people are not going to stand for it anymore.”

The news that the top five richest families in Britain have accrued as much wealth as the bottom 20% is another piece of the income inequality puzzle that needs to be addressed and examined in a timely manner. The continuing rift between the rich and poor in every country around the world must be a main focus for the world’s leaders in order to take steps to address this issue.

– Arthur Fuller

Sources: The Guardian, The Independent, The Independent, The Guardian
Photo: Salon

On February 12, over 140,000 people signed a petition created by The Daily Mail to have foreign aid money go to victims of recent destructive flooding in Britain.

The floods took place over six weeks ago and many British citizens are trying to put pressure on Prime Minister David Cameron to put more funds towards helping flood victims. Cameron has refused to use foreign aid money for these purposes, saying, “I don’t think it’s needed to go for the aid budget because we will make available the money that’s needed in Britain.”

Many global poverty experts have spoken about this campaign, calling it “outrageous.”

Several prominent experts including And Etharin Cousin, the executive director of the World Food Programme called this campaign to use funds dedicated to foreign aid in Britain an “extremely worrying” minority view and hoped that it would be ignored by governments. Experts have further called the campaign “inexcusable and unforgivable” as well as “disgraceful.”

World Vision chief executive Justin Byworth has said that this situation is a “political excuse” to put foreign aid in a negative light. Byworth has also said, “Anything that politicizes poverty here and in the UK, makes me angry, we are promoting a political agenda on the backs of the poor. It should be our humanitarian agenda that drives us.”

In the article published in The Daily Mail, writers use a one-sided viewpoint in addressing any foreign aid that Britain has given, attempting to show that relief money has been used poorly. The comments on the site seem to reflect these views and the site even offers a link to contact the prime minister to express concern about the use of funds.

Poverty experts have cited the importance of realizing that foreign aid helps everyone, as it is an essential investment. Cousin has said, “The reality is that we live on a very small planet. Food security in one part of the world means security for another part. We are hopeful government [will] recognize the need to support both population[s].”

Experts are imploring that people need to understand better the impact that foreign aid has on its recipients. Dr. Kanayo Nwanze, president of the International Fund for Agricultural Development, urges people to understand, “The mistake we make, we do not see the connection between instability and how it affects global peace. As the rural areas are destabilized, people migrate to urban areas, and there they often become even poorer, more frustrated, desperate and susceptible to rhetoric.” Nwanze attributes this to how so many end up living in militancy.

Urgency can be found on both sides of this argument, with one side demanding action on behalf of British citizens and the other reminding world of how important it is to maintain humanitarian action. What Cameron and Britain ultimately decides to do regarding this issue could have an impact on the way other countries use foreign aid. As poverty experts continue to emphasize the effect foreign aid has on a global level, and not simply the effect it has on the recipient, it will be up to the British government to make the best possible decision.

– Julie Guacci

Sources: Huffington Post, The Daily Mail
Photo: Daily Mail

British Panel Plans to End Global Poverty by 2030

Last Wednesday, British prime minister David Cameron announced a few recommendations for ending global poverty by 2030. Improving life for the more than one billion people that live on less than $1.25 a day would include provision of drinking water, electricity, health care, and schools.

Cameron reported that ending global poverty “can and should be one of the great achievements of our time. It is doable”. As a co-chair of the high-level panel that will recommend the best ways to combat global poverty, the British prime minister hopes to improve the U. N. Millennium Development Goals that expire in 2015. These goals included ensuring accessibility to elementary school education, stopping HIV/AIDS, increasing access to clean water and sanitation, as well as reduction of maternal and child mortality through healthcare.

These goals, however, Cameron says, didn’t place enough emphasis on the effects of conflict and violence. Building strong institutions and enforcing the law were overlooked in the Millennium Development Goals, and the panel hopes to remedy this by promoting “good governance and private enterprise, investment, and entrepreneurship.” The main focus of ending global poverty is economic growth in the private sector.

Cameron also highlights corruption and how tackling it as well as holding governments accountable is “the golden thread of development.” These reforms in conjunction with those such as food and water provisions, healthcare, and education accessibility could allow a swift eradication of global poverty by the year 2030.

Sarah Rybak

Photo: Guardian