Humanitarian Exchange articles tagged:Media

Humanitarian actors increasingly recognise the crucial importance of linking humanitarian efforts to human rights issues. In the Occupied Territories this interdependence is particularly stark. Israel’s policies restricting movement within the West Bank and between the West Bank and Israel, Gaza and other areas are a central factor in the Palestinians’ increasing poverty, unemployment and food insecurity, as well as their lack of access to urgently needed medical treatment. The lack of accountability of Israel’s security force personnel – both individual and systemic – is a direct cause of high rates of civilian death and injury. In order to address the…
Humanitarian agencies rely heavily on the media to raise awareness of crises and generate income. For the media, however, the driving force is the search for a story. Despite levels of death and destruction far outstripping the acute crises which seize the headlines, chronic emergencies such as civil wars and ongoing famines are neither immediate nor spectacular enough to warrant extensive coverage. Millions have died in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), making the conflict there the deadliest since the Second World War, dwarfing the combined death-tolls of all the other high-profile natural disasters and acts of terrorism of the…
For decades, Ethiopia has been inextricably linked in the world’s eyes with famine and disaster. The country is often characterised as dependent on foreigners, its people lazy, its government obstructionist. In fact, however, successive Ethiopian governments have actively engaged in disaster risk management (DRM). Political will is not lacking: disasters remain at the heart of Ethiopian politics. This article sketches out the history of Ethiopian governments’ responses to disasters, charting the complex relationship between a strong state with a long, proud history of sovereignty and increasingly assertive donor and INGO communities. Ethiopia’s assertive sovereignty lies in its historical self-consciousness as…
The scale of the mobilisation of European and American NGOs in response to the human rights and humanitarian crisis in Darfur since 2003 is arguably unprecedented. Attracting public and media attention to the crisis has been an important part of this response. This article argues that many campaigning groups have focused their energies on governments which have relatively little influence on the situation in Darfur. Yet the apparent success of campaigning on Darfur – in terms of media coverage and public and celebrity support – and the dominant, agenda-setting status of the main campaigning coalitions have made it difficult to…
On 6 February 2000, the New York Times published an in-depth, front-page article on the then 17-month-old conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The article gave a nuanced account of what had been called ‘Africa’s first world war’, describing in detail the complex history and root causes, the regional politics, the interests of the involved parties and the international diplomatic response. What was most striking from the humanitarian perspective was the article’s clear underestimate of the human impact of the conflict. In particular, the reported death toll of 100,000 failed to convey the true scale or nature of the…
The 8 October earthquake had a devastating impact on the media in affected areas. Dozens of journalists were killed or went missing, and newspaper offices, broadcasting facilities and press clubs were destroyed. The capacity of the local media was significantly reduced, and local and national outlets struggled to respond adequately to the tragedy with news and information about the nature and scale of the earthquake and the progress of the relief effort.   The media response Pakistanis first learnt of the disaster from private television channels and FM radio stations. It took a couple of hours before the state-owned electronic…
The emergency response to the 2004 tsunami in India demonstrates once more that, while disasters are class- and caste-neutral, those on the margins feel their impact much more severely. Marginalised people live in precarious conditions that increase their vulnerability to disasters. When viewed in this light, accountability to affected communities needs to go well beyond the provision of relief and rehabilitation, so that they regain their pre-disaster level. Accountability needs to empower them – socially and economically – to build their resilience and protection from future disasters. Accountability should not just be about the final outcome, but also the degree…
I was at home in London when I heard the news of the tsunami disaster on the morning of 26 December. It quickly became clear that this was a serious emergency, and that the DFID disaster response machinery was going to have a busy Boxing Day. But it was not immediately apparent how challenging the response would prove to be. DFID’s response The UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) normally responds through its financial support to NGOs, the Red Cross Movement and UN agencies. But it also has the capability to undertake direct bilateral response actions when deemed necessary and…
A common practice amongst agencies seeking to improve their response to disaster is the ‘simulation exercise’, in which a fictitious but typical scenario is prepared about a disaster in ‘Country X’, and a group of practitioners is asked to mount a response. Readers may have their own experiences of these exercises. A colleague told me of one where, after incredible levels of activity and so-called coordination, a week after the disaster had struck, the response leader had still not boarded the hypothetical aeroplane to take them to the hypothetical site of the response. The Indian Ocean tsunami could have been…
Public responses to appeals for aid funds after the Indian Ocean tsunami in December 2004 were unprecedented. In Britain, more donations were made more quickly to the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC)’s tsunami appeal than to any previous appeal coordinated by the DEC. In two months, £300 million (about $600 million) was raised – over eight times the amount given to the DEC’s Sudan appeal, which had been running for four times as long. Official aid pledges were also large. The responses of the public and of donors raise a number of issues around the financing of relief. This article looks…
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