Tag Archives: bbc

Bob Geldof: “arrogant… pompous… smug”

The BBC/Band Aid row rumbles on. Rageh Omaar yesterday took the opportunity to write a fascinating and timely piece about the inevitable politicisation of aid that happens in all conflicts. It’s worth reading in full, but here is the crucial point:

Let’s get some things straight: humanitarian operations in the midst of large-scale civil wars where territory is held by rival powers are almost always politicised and misused. The idea that this never happens and that NGOs are never put in situations where, in order to get the aid delivered, they have to work with and often through the powers that control the territory where the suffering is taking place is a ridiculous fantasy. It’s happening now, in Congo; in my own country, Somalia, where al-Qaida-affiliated groups have dictated how the World Food Programme delivers emergency food; and also in Zimbabwe, where I have just spent two weeks talking to aid workers having to work through government bodies in delivering aid to prisoners of Mugabe.

Bob Geldof wasn’t too happy with Omaar’s suggestion that the BBC story might be accurate and wrote a riposte today. Geldof might have a point but, frankly, I got lost in the forest of abuse. His 1500-word article was little more than a series of personal insults aimed at Omaar:

“how arrogant you are, how self-important…”

“your pathetic interpretation of press freedom…”

“your pompous guff…”

“your smug certitudes and thin pieties…”

“You people, you self-important mediators of ‘news’…”

It’s great to see such an important debate reduced to name-calling.

This and That

One: The BBC’s correspondent in Abuja, Andrew Walker, has a great series of pieces on policing in Nigeria. In the first he goes out on patrol with a new elite police unit. Except they don’t seem to be all that elite:

At one of the patrol stops, a van approaching them does a quick u-turn. It’s the moment the police have been waiting for. But it takes them too long to get into their truck and by the time they are in pursuit, the van has gone. The radio they have doesn’t work properly and they can’t inform other police of where they are for several minutes…

“They return to the barracks without making any arrests.”

Two: The Financial Times thinks $213m for security in Somalia is a step in the right direction. Remind me, what happened last time the international community paid for a police force?

Three: Kenyan women are going on a sex strike in a novel effort to put pressure on the government. Not sure it will work, but at least it’s a bit more innovative than a petition

Four: And Stood in the Congo reveals the world is round