U.S. Media Attention Turns To East Africa Famine

Above: On Monday, August 1, 2011, the New York Times ran a powerful photo on its cover capturing the tragic tale of hunger, despair, forced-migration and death unfolding in East Africa - which has been hit with the worst droughts since the 1950s. More than 12 million people in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia are severely affected and in need of humanitarian assistance. The image was taken in Somalia by Tyler Hicks.

Tadias Magazine
News Update

Thursday, August 4, 2011

New York (Tadias) – After The New York Times published a cover story earlier this week featuring a heart-wrenching photograph depicting the worsening food crisis affecting millions of people in the Horn of Africa, the U.S. media may be about to boost its coverage of what’s being described as the “worst famine in a generation.”

Click here to watch CNN’s Anderson Cooper report from “the most desperate place on earth.”

According to The New York Times: “The famine in Africa has had to compete with the wrangling over the debt ceiling, the mobile phone hacking scandals in Britain, the killings in Norway and, in Africa itself, the birth of a new country, the Republic of South Sudan.”

“I’m asking myself where is everybody and how loud do I have to yell and from what mountaintop,” Caryl Stern, chief executive of the United States Fund for UNICEF, told NYT. “The overwhelming problem is that the American public is not seeing and feeling the urgency of this crisis.”

When a Rupert Murdoch-owned British newspaper published a cartoon last month showing starving Africans engrossed in the European phone-hacking scandal, it was swiftly and correctly criticized as a tasteless joke. “But the underlying point — that the media has largely ignored what’s happening in Africa — was well taken,” writes Dylan Stableford for The Cutline.

Until recently, ABC claimed that it is the only American news network to have a reporter at the epicenter of Africa’s largest famine in 60 years.

“But that may soon change,” says Stableford.

U.S. administration officials and lawmakers are ringing alarm bells and warning of dire consequences unless global partners urgently step up aid. AFP reports that “even though the famine is expected to worsen and eventually dwarf the 1984 famine in Ethiopia, which claimed nearly a million lives, the public is not stepping up to try to help as it did nearly 30 years ago, when the international community responded to the crisis with fundraisers like Live Aid.”

“It is the most severe humanitarian crisis in a generation, affecting food security for more than 12 million people across Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Djibouti and surrounding areas,” Democratic Senator Chris Coons said as as he opened a hearing on the crisis.

“Based on nutrition and mortality surveys… we estimate that more than 29,000 children under five — nearly four percent of children — have died in the last 90 days in southern Somalia,” Nancy Lindborg, assistant administrator of the US Agency for International Development (USAID), told lawmakers.

Per the U.N.: The humanitarian disaster is likely to expand beyond Somalia in the next few weeks and spread into neighboring Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia.

Meanwhile, David Muir, the American TV journalist in Mogadishu, reported from the city on Monday’s “World News With Diane Sawyer,” describing the situation as the “worst famine in a generation.”

Watch:

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Related:
Ethiopia ‘using aid as a political tool’ – on BBC’s Investigative Report (Guardian)
Ethiopia ‘using aid as weapon of oppression’ (BBC & Bureau of Investigative Journalism)
What Can the Horn of Africa Do in the Face of Severe Droughts? (Huffington Post)
WFP: Ethiopia’s Emergency Food Reserve Near Zero (Voice of America)
Famine Expected to Hit All of Somalia, Parts of Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia (VOA)
US urges global action on Horn of Africa famine (AFP)
Historic Famine in East Africa Conjures Depressing Sense of Deja Vu (Tadias)

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