Attacks on foreign aid show the worst form of populism, warns David Miliband

Donald Trump’s executive order banning refugees sent “a pernicious smoke signal” to the world about the risk to humanitarian values, David Miliband will say today.

The former foreign secretary, who is in Britain this week, will also warn that media criticisms of foreign aid spending represent the worst type of populism and that the impact of fake news should not be underestimated.

Miliband, now chief executive of the International Rescue Committee charity, will pick out attacks on Britain’s aid budget and say they “repeat the familiar tropes of fake news”.

At the event in Oxford, he is expected to say: “The last thing that Isis and other hatemongers want is for the US and Europe to be a beacon of tolerance and compassion in the world.”

“The danger is clear: that nationalist walls define the first half of the 21st century in the way that the iron curtain defined the second half of the 20th century. The danger is doubled because the biggest problems in the world – climate change, nuclear proliferation, refugee flows – are never going to be solved by a retreat to tribalism. Far from remedying the vagaries of globalisation that will compound them.”

“The alternative to this retreat requires not just new political messaging – different threats, different villains, different heroes – but also a new policy agenda.”

He will also criticise weak government action in Britain as well as Trump’s executive order on refugees, The Guardian reported.

“The expectation was that 3,000 children stranded in Europe would be helped, but the government seems set to have paused the programme with a little over a tenth of that number arrived in the UK,” Miliband says.

“Our country is more than capable of helping these children, who are desperate and vulnerable. At a time when the US is questioning its historic role as a leader in refugee resettlement, the EU should lead in shoring up the foundations of the global humanitarian regime. Sixty thousand refugees shut out of American resettlement have been left in limbo. The EU should not be adding to that pool of misery; it should be cutting into it.”

“The US has effectively foregone its moral authority to call upon other countries doing the bulk of refugee hosting – Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Pakistan, and Kenya – to keep their borders open and provide shelter,” he is expected to add.

“If these countries close their borders or force returns to countries in conflict, the regional instability and insecurity that results will have global consequences, including for Europe.”

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