With most Christmas celebrations over with, and as Hogmanay draws near, now seems a good opportunity to reflect on the events of 2015.

In my role as Minister for Europe and International Development I am expected to keep a close eye on global news and events, although I doubt it will have escaped anybody that the world has faced many terrible tragedies this year.

However, what has shone through for me is the goodness of humankind and the kindness shown by strangers to communities and populations facing unimaginable loss.

Back in late April over 9000 people in Nepal were killed, and hundreds of thousands more injured or displaced, by a violent earthquake which ripped through the capital of Kathmandu and destroyed rural towns and villages across the surrounding valley.

As soon as images emerged of Nepalese people digging through rubble by hand to rescue survivors, and of the utter destruction of iconic, historic sites, people across the world rushed to help in what way they could, most often by donating to the relief effort .

The Disasters Emergency Committee’s Nepal Earthquake Appeal raised over £19 million in the 24 hours following their first broadcast and over £50 million in the following two weeks.

Another tragedy which piqued global public consciousness in 2015 was the ongoing refugee crisis, as millions of people continue to flee civil war and persecution in Syria and other conflict zones.

One powerful and gut-wrenching image which prompted public demand for international action in Europe was of the lifeless body of three-year-old Alan Kurdi, lying on a beach in Turkey.

His family had been attempting the same deadly Mediterranean crossing which has taken so many thousands of lives over the past few years, and he was killed along with his mother and brother.

The response to this image and this family’s personal story was a heartening groundswell of compassion and public outcry.

I was humbled to join one of many vigils across cities and towns in Europe, this one in George Square, which doubled as protests about the lack of action by central governments across Europe.

Demonstrations like these pushed EU countries to begin to take responsibility for the lives of refugees. People here in Scotland opened their hearts and offered to open their homes to those in need of shelter and security.

I am so proud of the reaction of our people and the Scottish Government, which has helped ensure that over 350 refugees have been safely settled in Scotland before Christmas.

Finally, just two months ago we witnessed co-ordinated terrorist attacks in Paris - horrific not just in their brutality, but in that they feel to have occurred on our own doorstep.

130 people were murdered while they enjoyed the company of family and friends, and our hearts ached for France’s loss.

Across the world and here in Glasgow people demonstrated once again, proclaiming France’s national motto of Liberte, Egalite and Fraternite and standing publicly and unafraid in solidarity with the people of Paris.

My hope for 2016 is, of course, that we see no such tragedies repeated or similar.

However, if we do, may the kindness of the human spirit continue to shine through.