Stephen praises work of Cardiff’s diaspora communities, and Penarth groups working on international development issues

Stephen spoke in Parliament this week, and praised the work of Cardiff’s diaspora communities, and that of Penarth groups working on international development issues.

He was speaking in Labour’s opposition day debate on international development on Wednesday (January 28), which was called to highlight the differences between the current coalition government’s policies on international development, and Labour’s commitment to tackling such vital issues.

Stephen said: “I wish to pay tribute to the diaspora communities in my constituency, particularly those from Somaliland and Yemen, who do incredible work in fundraising for crucial development projects back in their home countries.

“Those communities provide incredible support in terms of their remittances. They are also involved in fundraising for places such as Gaza which are facing humanitarian crises. Incredible work is done locally in raising funds for Islamic Relief.”

Speaking about the misconception that there is a clash between supporting development and supporting defence, Stephen added: “I am very clear that there can be no development without security and, equally, no security without development.

“I mentioned Yemen and Somaliland, which provide us with some interesting examples in that regard. Yemen is a country with which we have historical ties. We also have a strong diaspora in this country, including in my own constituency. It is also one of the poorest countries in the middle east, and far too often it has been overlooked and forgotten by the international community. Yemen is now descending into chaos, with al-Qaeda affiliates and others now in the country. It is a prime example of a country that matters.

“The opposite has happened in Somaliland. Investment in development, in increasing democracy and in action to prevent the spread of extremism by groups such as al-Shabab has led to great strides forward for its population. There is the more fundamental question about the recognition of Somaliland. I firmly believe that we need to listen to its citizens in that regard.

“These examples show why development matters, why we need to continue to consider these issues, and why we need to ensure that they are at the heart of the sustainable development goals.”

During his speech, he also praised the work of Penarth and District Lesotho Trust, Penarth Fair Trade Forum and local Penarth schools.

Stephen said: “We need to … consider the opportunities of fairer trade, which would benefit this country and developing countries. I am glad to say that many organisations and individuals in my constituency recognise that fact, and do some incredible campaigning work to raise these issues locally and put the pressure on internationally, too.

“I am thinking of organisations such as the Penarth and District Lesotho Trust, of which I am proud to be a patron. It has been operating for 10 years, supporting a schools and churches link with Teyateyaneng in Lesotho, and supporting a school, a library and other community work there; there are strong links with the local schools of St Cyres and Stanwell in my constituency.

“The Penarth fair trade forum has set up a local fair trade business directory, has gained the support of the town council, does fundraising and has held fair trade fashion shows. Indeed, last year it had a fair trade public speaking competition for local schools on the question, “Is fair trade a load of bananas?” That sort of work, bringing in the younger generation, enables the pressure to be built up and the consensus to be developed.”

2015 is an historic year for development, when countries will come together at the UN in September to agree sustainable development goals, and in Paris in December to agree a framework to tackle climate change.

Stephen added: “Fundamentally, it is a moral case that everyone is born the same and deserves the same opportunity.”

Stephen’s full speech is available to read here.


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