30 January 2008

Offical Complaint to the BBC re Somalia

Why is the BBC deliberately suppressing information?

Yesterday I saw this article on the BBC website:

Somali insurgents in deadly fight
Last Updated: Tuesday, 29 January 2008, 14:51 GMT

In the article, we had quotes from "the head of the country's UN refugee agency":

"Guillermo Bettoki told the BBC it was still too dangerous for the UNHCR to move its operations back to Somalia."

"Mr Bettoki said while the UNHCR would still be based in neighbouring Kenya, the agency would continue its humanitarian work in Somalia. "

"I have never felt the way I feel now in the sense of frustration for the lack of progress in the situation," he told the BBC's Network Africa programme.

But he said the Somali people themselves were less negative. "They see the conflict that is affecting Somalia for so many years as something that is the creation of the politicians or the warlords for their own interests," he said.

"The Somali people do appreciate the work that we are doing and they do have hopes and it is those hopes that keep us on the move."

While the BBC was reporting worthless titbits, Reuters, however, were reporting this:

"Somalia is worst humanitarian crisis: UN official"

"LONDON, Jan 29 (Reuters) - High levels of malnutrition and the difficulties of delivering aid make Somalia the world's most pressing humanitarian crisis, the U.N. refugee agency's representative there said on Tuesday.

More than 1 million people have fled their homes in Somalia, which is convulsed by fighting between Ethiopian-backed government forces, Islamist insurgents and an assortment of warlords.

"I've never seen anything like Somalia before," Guillermo Bettocchi, representative of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, said during a visit to London.

"The situation is very severe. It is the most pressing humanitarian emergency in the world today -- even worse than Darfur,"

Why did the BBC not report the Darfur comment and the figures?

The only piece of data you reported was "Since then it is estimated that 60% of Mogadishu's residents have fled their homes" which is meaningless to most people. What's 60% of a figure you don't know and haven't been told?

If the UN High Commissioner for Refugees feels that Somalia is worse than Darfur, why does the BBC believe that part of his discourse was not newsworthy, but his other comments were? It just doesnt make sense. You would have received the Reuters feed so you knew exactly what he had said.

The article was also misleading as the reader was under the impression the BBC had spoken to Guillermo Bettocchi in Somalia. Thankfully Reuters has provided more accurate and less misleading information than the BBC.

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