From the Guardian:
The BBC has refused to broadcast a national humanitarian appeal for Gaza, leaving aid agencies with a potential shortfall of millions of pounds in donations.
ITV and Sky have followed suit.
The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), an umbrella organisation for 13 aid charities, launched its appeal today saying the devastation in Gaza was “so huge that British aid agencies were compelled to act”.
The DEC is made up of, amongst others, the British Red Cross, Concern, Actionaid, Care International and Save the Children. They undertake appeals for donations through media channels – like the BBC. In order for the DEC to undertake an appeal, an emergency must meet certain criteria:
Three principles have been adopted to provide a guideline for trustees and others involved in deciding whether a national joint appeal is the appropriate response to a particular emergency:
- The disaster must be on such a scale and of such urgency as to call for swift international humanitarian assistance.
- The DEC agencies, or some of them, must be in a position to provide effective and swift humanitarian assistance at a scale to justify a national appeal.
- There must be sufficient public awareness of, and sympathy for, the humanitarian situation so as to give reasonable grounds for concluding that a public appeal will be successful.
In the past, the DEC has appealed for donations from the public to mitigate emergencies in Darfur, Chad, the Sudan, and Bangladesh. They also launched an appeal after the Indian Ocean Tsunami in 2004. A BBC spokesperson, quoted in the Guardian piece, said
The BBC decision was made because of question marks about the delivery of aid in a volatile situation and also to avoid any risk of compromising public confidence in the BBC’s impartiality in the context of an ongoing news story. However, the BBC will of course continue to report the humanitarian story in Gaza.
The BBC holds that it’s not the first time it has refused to broadcast a DEC appeal, the implication being requests from the DEC are taken on a case by case basis. In 2006 they refused a DEC appeal for aid to Lebanon during the humanitarian crisis sparked by Israeli air-strikes and a ground invasion of Southern Lebanon. At the time they said:
“We really have to think about what the political sensitivities of the situation are”
The DEC state in the press release issued today:
the devastation wrought in the Gazan territory (is) so huge that British aid agencies were compelled to act.
It’s a bit depressing, but hardly surprising that they felt it necessary to add:
DEC aid agencies (are) non-political. “We work on the basis of humanitarian need and there is an urgent need in Gaza today. Political solutions are for others to resolve, but what is of major concern to us all is that many innocent people have been affected by the situation – and it is them that we seek to help.”
It’s even more depressing that the BBC won’t run with it. Emergencies in the Congo and in Chad were politically loaded, too, it’s just that the political entities involved were odd little African ones whose motives were so obscure to Western audiences that partisanship couldn’t possibly be an issue. With Israel and Palestine, however, it’s a diplomatic issue between equals.