Where were you Jan. 30? If you were British tycoon Richard Branson, you spent part of the day at the refugee camp in Davos. Or, to be more exact, the Refugee Run, a simulation mocked by my colleague Josh Keating and aid skeptic Bill Easterly last week. The photos are in:
An "injured" Branson carries a water bowl:
Branson experiences "language incapacity":
Branson's party gets raided:
Branson behind barbed wire:
Photos: PIERRE VERDY/AFP/Getty Images
Even setting aside Turkey's record with its Armenian and Kurdish minorities for a moment, it's a little rich for Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to be so aghast at the idea of sharing a stage with a human rights abuser.
Almost exactly a year before Erdogan's outburst at Davos, in which he lambasted Israeli President Shimon Peres over Israel's actions in Gaza, he was literally rolling out the red carpet for Sudan's genocidal president and indicted war criminal Omar al-Bashir in Ankara.
So when did "killing people" become a problem for him?
Davos got a bit more interesting yesterday when Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan stormed out of a panel discussion after castigating Israeli President Shimon Peres for Israel's actions in Gaza. Erdogan was upset not just at the content of Peres's speech but by the fact that he had apparently been given less time to speak.
Erdogan returned home to a hero's welcome in Turkey where he gave a press conference saying Peres's manner was "unacceptable" and blaming the panel's moderator, Washington Post reporter David Ignatius, for not allowing him to speak. "I cannot allow anybody to harm my country's dignity and honor," Erdogan said.
Peres says the relationship between Turkey and Israel won't be affected by the event, though Erdogan had earlier stated that Turkish moderated talks between Israel and Gaza had been "shelved" after Gaza.
Here's what the VIPs are in for:
Just five minutes' walk from the Congress Centre, you can enter a simulated environment that will thrust you into a war zone. You will meet a rebel attack, navigate a mine field and battle life in a refugee camp. (Spoiler alert: No harm will come to you!)
As good as UNHCR's intentions may be, the idea of the Davos elite playing refugee between a talk by Larry Summers and an afternoon roquefort reception seems like something out of a Monty Python sketch. Easterly asks:
Can Davos man empathize with refugees when he or she is not in danger and is going back to a luxury banquet and hotel room afterwards? Isn’t this just a tad different from the life of an actual refugee, at risk of all too real rape, murder, hunger, and disease?
Perhaps Ian Bremmer could let us know.
I pity the poor soul who came up with this headline combo:
"The Magic Mountain: Can Talks in Davos Help Solve the Economic Crisis?"
FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images
Passport, FP’s flagship blog, brings you news and hidden angles on the biggest stories of the day, as well as insights and under-the-radar gems from around the world.