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With Schools Ditching Merit For Diversity, Families Of High Achievers Head For The Door

With Schools Ditching Merit For Diversity, Families Of High Achievers Head For The Door

Authored by Vince Bielski via RealClear Wire,




With Schools Ditching Merit For Diversity, Families Of High Achievers Head For The Door

Authored by Vince Bielski via RealClear Wire,

Alex Shilkrut has deep roots in Manhattan, where he has lived for 16 years, works as a physician, and sends his daughter to a public elementary school for gifted students in coveted District 2. 

It’s a good life. But Shilkrut regretfully says he may leave the city, as well as a job he likes in a Manhattan hospital, because of sweeping changes in October that ended selective admissions in most New York City middle schools. 

These merit-based schools, which screened for students who met their high standards, will permanently switch to a lottery for admissions that will almost certainly enroll more blacks and Latinos in the pursuit of racial integration.  

Shilkrut is one of many parents who are dismayed by the city’s dismantling of competitive education. He says he values diversity but is concerned that the expectation that academic rigor will be scaled back to accommodate a broad range of students in a lottery is what’s driving him and other parents to seek alternatives.

Although it’s too early to know how many students might leave the school system due to the enrollment changes, some parents say they may opt for private education at $50,000 a year and others plan to uproot their lives for the suburbs despite the burdens of such moves. 
We will very likely leave the public schools,” says Shilkrut, adding that he knows 10 Manhattan families who also plan to depart. “And if these policies continue, there won’t be many middle- and upper middle-class families left in the public schools. 

A National Battle Over Merit 

The battle in New York City is an example writ large of a high-stakes gamble playing out in cities across the country – essentially a large experiment in urban education aiming to improve the decades-old lag in performance of mostly black and Latino students. By ending screened admissions that segregate poorer performers and instead placing them in lottery schools with higher achievers, the theory goes, all students benefit.   
But the research cuts both ways on the academic impact of mixed-ability classrooms, and many New York City parents say they don’t want to roll the dice on their kids’ education. If a large number of families do exit the city’s public schools in 2023, it would mean another financial blow to a system that has already lost more than 100,000 students since the beginning of the pandemic. Yet some of these parents may decide to remain in the public system and augment their kids’ education with advanced after-school classes, a common practice. 

When desegregation policies have been adopted in other cities, some parents who object stick it out and adapt,” says David Armor, a professor emeritus at George Mason University who has extensively researched integration policies. “But I would expect some degree of middle-class flight in New York City given how the lottery is going to change the academic composition of the middle schools.” 
Diversity advocates – school educators, local politicians, and progressive nonprofits and parents – dismiss the threat of an exodus as scaremongering while they score wins. In Park Slope, Brooklyn, an affluent, progressive NYC neighborhood, it was parents who led the charge to end selective middle schools several years ago in a prelude to the citywide policy shift this fall. But Park Slope isn’t representative of the more moderate politics of much of the city like Manhattan’s District 2, where most parents at a recent series of community meetings strongly backed selective education.  

Nationwide, about 185 school districts and charters in 39 states have adopted integration policies, ranging from redrawing school boundaries to preferential admissions for low-income and black and Latino students, according to the Century Foundation, an advocacy group. A quarter of them have been implemented since 2017.  

“Students benefit educationally and socially from racially and economically integrated schools,” says a report from New York Appleseed, an advocacy group that lobbied for the removal of admission screens. “Society and our political systems benefit from the reduction in racial prejudice.”  
But advocates don’t win them all, suffering a remarkable setback in progressive San Francisco in 2022. After the Board of Education angered some parents, particularly Asian Americans, by shifting Lowell, the city’s premier selective high school, to a lottery system during the pandemic, a grassroots campaign formed and successfully recalled three members in a landslide vote. The new board voted to keep screened enrollment at Lowell. 

NYC Rolls Back Selective Ed 

The retreat from selective middle schools in New York City gained momentum during the pandemic. Prior to COVID, almost 200 of the city’s middle schools, or nearly half the total, used enrollment screens, typically grades and test scores, to select high achievers.  

Whites and Asians won a disproportionate number of seats in these competitive schools, creating a form of segregation based on academic performance. For instance, at Salk School of Science, a junior high in District 2, these groups accounted for three-fourths of the enrollment, with blacks and Latinos taking less than a quarter of the seats even though they make up two-thirds of all students in NYC’s system. 

During the pandemic, middle schools suspended screened admissions because standardized testing had been temporarily paused – and that gave diversity advocates an opening to lobby for a permanent end of selective middle schools.  

NYC Department of Education Chancellor David Banks, a black man who rose up the ranks from school security officer, recently got a taste of bitter politics of integration after making a politically incorrect comment in favor of merit-based education. The blunt-spoken chancellor was pilloried as “evil” on Twitter for saying that students who work harder deserve to go to a top school compared to those who need water thrown on their face to get them to class. As a former principal, Banks was speaking from experience.  

But perhaps due to the political pressure, rather than ordering the restoration of screening, Banks punted. He told his superintendents who run more than 30 districts to solicit feedback from parents and then decide whether to bring them back. 

In October, the superintendents mostly sided with progressives, dropping screened admissions permanently in more than 130 middle schools and restoring the practice in almost 60 of them for enrollment in fall 2023. Some parents cheered the sea change, arguing it’s wrong to pressure young children in 4th grade to compete for selective middle schools. 

Screens end up excluding black students and English language learners and those from low-income families,” says Nyah Berg, the executive director of New York Appleseed. “It’s fundamentally unsound to judge the worthiness of a student who is nine years old to attend a middle school based on their test scores and grades.” 

But many other parents, particularly in District 2, are appalled by the rollback of meritocracy. The district covers a large swath of Manhattan, from the affluent Upper East Side and Midtown to Greenwich Village and the financial district. It is also home to a disproportionate share of high performing students. 

One District 2 mom, who taught in city public schools for six years, says she and her husband have already bought a house in Riverside, Conn., where schools provide accelerated education. They plan to move there if they can’t afford a private school in the city. 

It’s 100% certain that our children won’t go to an unscreened school,” says the mother, who asked not to be named because she has two kids in public elementary school. “It’s heartbreaking because I grew up in the city and went to public schools. But the standards are falling now.” 

The major problem with mixed-ability classrooms, particularly in an unscreened urban school, is the remarkably large difference in skill levels that teachers will likely encounter, says Jonathan Plucker, a professor of education at Johns Hopkins University who researches student achievement gaps. Some middle school students may be at least three years behind their grade level and others three years ahead, making it next to impossible for a teacher to give struggling students the attention they need while challenging advanced students with specialized curriculums.  
“The idea that everyone benefits in a mixed-ability classroom is an ideological statement that flies in the face of all the evidence we have, which is very mixed,” Plucker says. “And not just for advanced students. It’s not clear that struggling students benefit either.”

The Exodus

The New York City school system, the nation’s largest, has been losing students for years. With about 1.1 million students at its peak, the system began shedding students in about 2016, which some experts attributed to a decline in the birth rate.  

The drop-off accelerated in this and other cities nationwide during the pandemic. Many parents left after seeing the harm done to their children by remote learning when teachers, backed by their union, refused to return to the classroom. Families of all races, particularly blacks, and all income levels exited public schools for charters, homeschools, and mostly for an education outside New York City in New Jersey and in southern states like Florida. 

By 2022, the city’s schools were down to about 900,000 students, a remarkable 10% drop from two years earlier.  

Nothing is more dangerous to the city’s schools than the loss of students. State funding is based on head count, and the decline already forced Mayor Eric Adams to cut more than $200 million from the education budget this summer.  
Future cutbacks may jeopardize a major reform approved in September that requires the city to reduce the size of its large classes – high school classes now capped at 34 students will go down to 25. The goal is to lift the abysmally low English and math test scores of city public school students, with more than half of them failing to achieve proficiency in these key areas in 2022.

“I have no doubt that some parents in areas like the Upper East Side will leave the city because of the elimination of screens,” says Ray Domanico, a longtime researcher of the city’s school enrollment both within the system and now at the conservative Manhattan Institute. “With significantly fewer kids enrolled today, the city shouldn’t be pushing policies that could drive more families away.” 

When the City Lured Families Back 

Selective middle schools were created decades ago to keep middle-class families in the city as crime was pushing them to the suburbs in large numbers. By the 1990s, as the soaring murder rate began to recede and more people moved into less inhabited areas of District 2, parents began to demand better schools, Domanico says. 

The school system chose to respond to those families by setting up screened schools,” he says. “The city wanted to appeal to better-educated parents of all racial groups who had good jobs.” 

In District 2, officials rolled out screened middle and high schools that quickly gained a reputation for excellence, including the Salk School of Science on East 20th Street in 1995. 
The schools helped lure white and Asian families to the district. In the following two decades, the number of white students in the district rose to 26% in 2020, up from 19% in 2003, according to state enrollment data. More Asian students enrolled in the district too, bringing their total to 22%, while the number of black students fell to 14% from 22%. Latinos, the largest group, declined as well.   

Chien Kwok, a Chinese-American, was part of that transformation of District 2. He was working in China when his child was accepted into a gifted and talented elementary program in the district, prompting his family to move back to Manhattan.  
“District 2 had a real draw for parents,” says Kwok, the treasurer of the district’s Community Education Council, which gives parents a voice in school policy. “You could work in the city, send your kids to a great gifted and talented elementary program, then to an awesome screened middle school, and high schools are the best. It was a meritocratic feeder system that is now destroyed.” 

Parents Back Selective Admissions  

The battle over District 2 middle schools came to a head this fall. At four community meetings attended by the district’s superintendent, Kelly McGuire, a large majority of parents and advocates spoke in favor of restoring screened admissions. The meetings added weight to resolutions already passed by the district’s CEC supporting competitive admissions.  

So in late October, when McGuire announced he was imposing a permanent lottery for admission at all of the about 17 middle schools that had used screens, parents were flabbergasted.  

It didn’t help his cause that the day before his announcement, McGuire’s wife, Judith Kafka, a professor of educational policy at City University of New York, co-wrote an opinion piece against screened admissions. She said that competition for admission hurts all students, and quoted a parent in Park Slope who prefers a lottery because it ends the stress that comes with striving for high marks and a seat in a good school.  
Parents in District 2 were offended by the article. To them, it suggested that McGuire always intended to ignore their views and instead wanted to persuade them using his wife as a surrogate.  

At a community meeting in November following McGuire’s decision, parents directed their fury directly at the superintendent.  

I am now looking for private schools for my son,” said CEC member Danyela Souza Egorov. “But so many families in our district have reached out to me that they cannot afford it. It's deeply unfair that your plan does not meet the needs of these families.” 
McGuire responded that he did hear the community’s call for accelerated learning. But rather than restoring competitive schools that stress out families, the superintendent said he’s creating a new honors math course in four middle schools for those who qualify, and all schools will offer eligible 8th graders an advanced biology course and algebra, which is sometimes taught in 9th grade. 

For reading and writing, McGuire said, middle schools will continue to differentiate instruction, in which students pick books and essay topics to match their own proficiency levels. 

The changes, he told parents, “dramatically increase the number of accelerated learning options for students in our district.” 

CEC member Kaushik Das didn’t agree, calling McGuire’s honors offerings “meager scraps.” 

When Mixed-Ability Schools Fail 

Parents see a big difference between the defunct selective schools, once full of strivers and bright minds, and the new mixed-ability schools that will try to tailor instruction to learners of widely differing skills and motivation.  

Hunter Dare’s daughter learned this lesson at Simon Baruch, which became a District 2 lottery school during the pandemic. The sixth grader was three years ahead of her peers in math in a classroom with some students working at the second-grade level. The teacher’s response was to give the girl an algebra textbook for self-study and promised to work with her when time permitted. But that never happened.  

She was bored in her other classes as well, and was handed only 15 minutes of homework a day. 
It was bad because she wasn’t challenged and she just lost interest in school and started slipping backwards, not doing things she was supposed to do,” says her father.  
Dare was considering leaving the city for a better school for his daughter. But she got lucky in the 2022 lottery and was placed in the Baccalaureate School for Global Education in Queens, which Dare calls one of the few remaining highly rigorous middle school programs in the city. His daughter’s motivation is back as she tackles at least two hours of homework a night.  

Another mother in District 2 calls her son’s experience during the pandemic at the unscreened Robert Wagner middle school “a disaster.” In English class on most days, she said, 25 students spent much of the period reading a variety of unchallenging fantasy and sports books. So there was little opportunity for a dynamic class discussion around a compelling literary topic. Instead, the teacher walked around the classroom and briefly talked individually to students. They avoided tackling difficult authors from Toni Morrison to William Shakespeare whose works require more elucidation and class discussion.  

“Advocates say students learn best in mixed-ability classrooms, but in fact nobody really learned much from their reading in my son’s class, and that’s terrible,” says the mother, who asked not to be named because her children are still in public schools.  

She says she won’t put her younger child in an unscreened District 2 middle school after seeing one up close. Instead, the family will likely decamp to Connecticut, where they recently bought a home. 

Tyler Durden Fri, 01/06/2023 - 19:00

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The ONS has published its final COVID infection survey – here’s why it’s been such a valuable resource

The ONS’ Coronavirus Infection Survey has ceased after three years. Two experts explain why it was a uniquely useful source of data.



March 24 marked the publication of the final bulletin of the Office for National Statistics’ (ONS) Coronavirus Infection Survey after nearly three years of tracking COVID infections in the UK. The first bulletin was published on May 14 2020 and we’ve seen new releases almost every week since.

The survey was based primarily on data from many thousands of people in randomly selected households across the UK who agreed to take regular COVID tests. The ONS used the results to estimate how many people were infected with the virus in any given week.

In the survey’s first six months, we had results from 1.2 million samples taken from 280,000 people. Although the number of people participating each month declined over time, the survey has continued to be a highly valuable tool as we navigate the pandemic.

In particular, because the ONS bulletins were based on surveying a large, random sample of all UK residents, it offered the least biased surveillance system of COVID infections in the UK. We are not aware of any similar study anywhere else in the world. And, while estimating the prevalence of infections was the survey’s main output, it gave us a lot of other useful information about the virus too.

Unbiased surveillance

An important advantage of the ONS survey was its ability to detect COVID infections among many people who had no symptoms, or were not yet displaying symptoms.

Certainly other data sets existed (and some continue to exist) to give a sense of how many people were testing positive. For example, earlier in the pandemic, case numbers were reported at daily national press conferences. Figures continue to be published on the Department of Health and Social Care website.

But these totals have usually only encompassed people who tested because they had reason to suspect they may have been infected (for example because of symptoms or their work). We know many people had such minor symptoms that they had no reason to suspect they had COVID. Further, people who took a home test may or may not have reported the result.

Similarly, case counts from hospital admissions or emergency room attendances only captured a very small percentage of positive cases, even if many of these same people had severe healthcare needs.

Symptom-tracking applications such as the ZOE app or online surveys have been useful but tend to over-represent people who are most technologically competent, engaged and symptom-aware.

Testing wastewater samples to track COVID spread in a community has proved difficult to reliably link to infection numbers.

Read more: The tide of the COVID pandemic is going out – but that doesn't mean big waves still can't catch us

What else the survey told us

Aside from swab samples to test for COVID infections, the ONS survey collected blood samples from some participants to measure antibodies. This was a very useful aspect of the infection survey, providing insights into immunity against the virus in the population and individuals.

Beginning in June 2021, the ONS survey also published reports on the “characteristics of people testing positive”. Arguably these analyses were even more valuable than the simple infection rate estimates.

For example, the ONS data gave practical insights into changing risk factors from November 21 2021 to May 7 2022. In November 2021, living in a house with someone under 16 was a risk factor for testing positive but by the end of that period it seemed to be protective. Travel abroad was not an important risk factor in December 2021 but by April 2022 it was a major risk. Wearing a mask in December 2021 was protective against testing positive but by April 2022 there was no significant association.

We shouldn’t find this changing picture of risk factors particularly surprising when concurrently we had different variants emerging (during that period most notably omicron) and evolving population resistance that came with vaccination programmes and waves of natural infection.

Also, in any pandemic the value of non-pharmaceutical interventions such wearing masks and social distancing declines as the infection becomes endemic. At that point the infection rate is driven more by the rate at which immunity is lost.

A woman wearing a face mask receives a vaccine.
The survey gave us insights into the protection offered by vaccines and non-pharmaceutical interventions. Paul Maguire/Shutterstock

The ONS characteristics analyses also offered evidence about the protective effects of vaccination and prior infection. The bulletin from May 25 2022 showed that vaccination provided protection against infection but probably for not much more than 90 days, whereas a prior infection generally conferred protection for longer.

After May 2022, the focused shifted to reinfections. The analyses confirmed that even in people who had already been infected, vaccination protects against reinfection, but again probably only for about 90 days.

It’s important to note the ONS survey only measured infections and not severe disease. We know from other work that vaccination is much better at protecting against severe disease and death than against infection.

Read more: How will the COVID pandemic end?

A hugely valuable resource

The main shortcoming of the ONS survey was that its reports were always published one to three weeks later than other data sets due to the time needed to collect and test the samples and then model the results.

That said, the value of this infection survey has been enormous. The ONS survey improved understanding and management of the epidemic in the UK on multiple levels. But it’s probably appropriate now to bring it to an end in the fourth year of the pandemic, especially as participation rates have been falling over the past year.

Our one disappointment is that so few of the important findings from the ONS survey have been published in peer-reviewed literature, and so the survey has had less of an impact internationally than it deserves.

Paul Hunter consults for the World Health Organization. He receives funding from National Institute for Health Research, the World Health Organization and the European Regional Development Fund.

Julii Brainard receives funding from the NIHR Health Protection and Research Unit in Emergency Preparedness.

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Candida auris: what you need to know about the deadly fungus spreading through US hospitals

A drug-resistant fungus is a threat to human health.




A fungal superbug called Candida auris is spreading rapidly through hospitals and nursing homes in the US. The first case was identified in 2016. Since then, it has spread to half the country’s 50 states. And, according to a new report, infections tripled between 2019 and 2021. This is hugely concerning because Candida auris is resistant to many drugs, making this fungal infection one of the hardest to treat.

Candida auris is a yeast-type fungus that is the first to have multiple international health alerts associated with it. It has been found in over 30 countries, including the UK, since it was first identified in Japan in 2009.

It is related to other types of yeast that can cause infections, like Candida albicans which causes thrush. However, Candida auris is very different to these other fungi and in some ways, highly unusual.

First, it can grow, or “colonise”, human skin. Unlike many other Candida species that like to grow in our guts as part of the microbiome, Candida auris does not grow in this environment and seems to prefer the skin. This means that people who are colonised with Candida auris can shed lots of yeast from their skin, and this contaminates bed clothes and surfaces with the fungus. This can lead to outbreaks.

It is unusual for a fungal infection to spread from person to person, but that seems to be how Candida auris infections spread. Outbreaks can happen with this fungus, especially in intensive care units (ICU) and nursing homes where people are at a higher risk for getting fungal infections generally.

The fungus can live on surfaces for several weeks, and getting rid of it can be difficult. Enhanced cleaning and hand washing is needed to try and limit the spread of the fungus and exposure to patients who get ill from it.

Most people who are colonised with Candida auris will not get ill from it, or even know it is there. It causes infections when it gets into surgical wounds or the blood from an intravenous line. Once it gets into the body, it can infect organs and the blood causing a very serious and potentially fatal disease.

The mortality rate for people infected (as opposed to colonised) with the fungus is between 30 and 60%. But a precise mortality rate can be hard to pin down as people who are infected are often critically ill with other conditions.

Diagnosing an infection can be difficult as there can be a wide range of symptoms including fever, chills, headaches and nausea. It is for this reason that we need to keep a close eye on Candida auris as it can easily be confused with other conditions.

In the last few years, new tests to help identify this fungus accurately have been developed.

Candida auris can get into the body via an infected IV line. Tyler Olson/Shutterstock

The first Candida auris infection was reported in the UK in 2013. However, there may have been other cases before this – there is evidence that some early cases were misidentified as unrelated yeasts.

The UK has so far managed to stop any major outbreaks, and most cases have been limited in their spread.

Most patients who have become ill from Candida auris in the UK had recently travelled to parts of the world where the fungus is more common or has been circulating for longer.

Spurred by COVID

Rising numbers of Candida auris infections are thought to be partially linked to the COVID pandemic. People who become very ill from COVID may need mechanical ventilation and long stays in the ICU, which are both risk factors for Candida auris colonisation and infection.

It will take some time to figure out exactly how the pandemic has affected rates and numbers of fungal infections around the world, but these are important questions to answer to help predict how Candida auris cases might fluctuate in the future.

As for most life-threatening fungal infections, treatment is difficult and limited. We have only a handful of antifungal drugs to fight these infections, so when a species is resistant to one or more of these drugs, the options for treatment are extremely limited. Some Candida auris infections are resistant to all three types of antifungal drug.

Healthcare professionals must remain vigilant to this drug-resistant fungus. Without close monitoring and enhanced awareness of this infection, we could see more outbreaks and serious disease associated with Candida auris in the future.

Rebecca A. Drummond receives funding from the Medical Research Council.

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Four global problems that will be aggravated by the UK’s recent cuts to international aid

The UK is among countries cutting international aid payments, which could affect the world in four key areas: poverty, extremism, democracy and refuge…




Flags fly outside the UN building in New York. Andrew F. Kazmierski/Shutterstock

UK economic forecasts have improved markedly since the September 2022 mini-budget. The economic recession may now be more shallow and public borrowing lower than previously expected.

However, faced with persistently high inflation and continued uncertainty caused by Russia’s war in Ukraine, financial cuts remained the order of the day in the UK government’s spring 2023 budget announcement.

While Chancellor Jeremy Hunt introduced a £5 billion increase to military spending over the next two years, the international aid budget was cut for the third time in three years. This is part of an increasingly concerning international trend.

UK aid has been deceasing since 2019. And the country is not alone in cutting its aid commitments. Sweden – one of the world’s leading donors in this area – is also set to abolish its target of spending 1% of GDP on aid. Across several European countries, recent cuts have largely been driven by the Ukraine war, as well as national pressures caused by the COVID pandemic.

And yet aid is sorely needed if the world is to meet the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, a plan to end world poverty agreed by UN members in 2015. The “great finance divide” – which sees some countries struggle to access resources and affordable finance for economic investment – continues to grow, according to the UN, leaving developing countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America more susceptible to shocks.

The UK and Europe’s support for Ukraine is admirable and much-needed. But when countries are faced with important domestic political and financial challenges, governments tend to look inwards – often in an attempt to rally their electorate.

Cuts to aid budgets are one example of this. For the UK in particular, neglecting multilateral solutions to important global challenges could actually exacerbate what are thought of as “domestic issues”. Our research highlights four such issues that could be affected by the UK’s budget cuts.

1. Increasing poverty could affect global stability

While the exact direction of the relationship remains up for debate, poverty is an important cause and effect of war. We know that up to two-thirds of the world’s extreme poor (defined as people earning less than $1.90 a day) will be concentrated in fragile and conflict-affected countries by 2030.

Research shows that aid promotes economic growth. So, reducing international aid will only exacerbate these recent negative trends. According to the chief executive of Oxfam GB, aid is an investment in a more stable world – something that is in all of our interests.

2. Extremism could spread as western influence falls

Violent extremism is on the rise in Africa. It reduces international investment and undermines the rights of minority groups, women and girls. This goes against important UN sustainable development goals aimed at building peace and prosperity for the planet and its people.

Reducing international aid will create opportunities for new political actors to emerge and influence the direction of countries with weak government institutions. Cutting back western influence in international architecture (especially while these countries support a conflict in their own continent) may also be resented by countries in other parts of the world that would like more support.

3. Democracy could be threatened in some countries

When aid is provided in the right way, it can give a boost to democratic outcomes. Again, if western, democratic and liberal states don’t support countries struggling to tackle poverty and extremism, other actors could step in.

Russia’s increasing involvement in the Central African Republic and Burkina Faso are recent examples. Equally, China’s Belt and Road Initiative (through which it lends money to other countries to build infrastructure) has significantly broadened its economic and political influence in many parts of the world. But some experts fear that China is laying a debt trap for borrowing governments, whereby the contracts agreed allow it to seize strategic assets when debtor countries run into financial problems.

The growing influence of both states may explain global trends towards democratic backsliding because research shows democratic stability is often undermined in waves. In recent UN votes, Russia and China’s growing influence via such aid has been seen to bear fruit. For example, in October 2022 Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan –- both temporary members of the UN Human Rights council –- voted against a decision to discuss human rights concerns in China’s Muslim-majority Xinjiang region.

4. More countries could struggle to welcome refugees

People flee their homes for many reasons but mostly due to conflict, violent extremism and poverty. Most refugees do not travel to western countries such as the UK, although the number of people arriving in small boats across the English Channel has risen substantially recently.

But there are more “internationally displaced people” than refugees. That is, most people fleeing war remain in their country, while refugees tend to remain in neighbouring states.

Turkey receives the highest numbers of refugees due to its proximity to the ongoing war in Syria, and Poland welcomed the highest number of refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine.

This, combined with the fact that countries most likely to experience conflict are geographically distant from the UK, indicates that numbers seeking asylum in the UK will remain relatively low. But reducing aid will impose further pressures on poor countries that are already struggling to accommodate refugee flows, as well as increasing push factors for migration from fragile regions.

International aid should be one of many solutions

Failure to tackle global problems like poverty, extremism, and democratic backsliding could further destabilise fragile regions. This will have human costs including increased numbers of desperate people attempting to cross the channel.

Aid is an investment in a more stable world. Deals with France or the risk of deportation to Rwanda will have limited impact on reducing the number of people arriving on small boats if the root causes of their migration are not tackled.

In our globalised world, looking inwards can only exacerbate these problems. It is crucial that states adopt multilateral solutions – including funding international aid programmes – to tackle global problems.

Patricia Justino receives funding from the UK Economic and Social Research Council.

Kit Rickard does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

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