Saturday, August 6, 2011

Unique Reports From Somalia Necessary

While many in Somalia go hungry and that country is faced with famine which has resulted in people catching various diseases and many, especially children, dying the Al Shabaab haven’t stopped attacking. As the world focuses on the humanitarian crisis in the country many reporters are currently neglecting telling us that this country is still at war, militia are not making the delivery of food easy and we are not being reminded that this is a country which hasn’t had an effective government since 1991.

South Africa’s Gift of the Givers Foundations is currently there and they have taken various reporters with them. SABC’s Melanie Moses and Vauldi Carelse have been telling us about the amazing job the foundation has done in providing food many don’t have in the country. Kaya FM’s Fahmida Miller has however been getting into the lives of the families that live there. She has been telling of the daily struggles of those who need health care assistance, food and water.

I haven’t heard that many reports from South African journalists explaining how it is to have a shortage of food in a country that is still at war. I also haven’t heard whether the Al Shabaab has permitted everyone to get assistance. It is important to tell this story in full and not get caught up on just the work done by foreign organisations.

Somalis have to live with various struggles on a daily basis and it’s difficult for many journalists there at the moment to get the kind of access they are currently receiving. I believe that while they are there they should also report on the daily lives of some Somalis and how they manage to survive in a country that is probably the harshest place to live on earth. It seems to be a struggle for me to find unique stories on Somalia at the moment as they are all similar and reporters seem to be moving in packs.

International reporters have told us that about 30 000 children are already dead, but I would also like to hear whether this can be avoided. I applaud Gift of the Givers but I think some reporters need to probably try to move out of the pack so we can hear some unique stories of Somalis who have to live with the conflict and famine on a daily basis.

1 comment:

  1. Hi,

    In response to your article above, we filed lots of unique stories from Somalia. If you listened to SABC Radio news and the current affairs shows in terms of packages and q and a's you would've heard many interviews with ordinary Somali's about the desperate situation they are in. I definitely had a strong focus on Al Shebab and the security situation as well as the effect of the war on the country. As a journalist I know the difference between news value and PR, and while Gift of the Givers was duly mentioned for the work they were doing, they definitely did not feature in every story that I wrote. I also mentioned several times that relief efforts were being hampered because Al Shebab was preventing relief agencies - particularly from the west - from entering it's terrority. This is the reason why thousands of Somali's have been sacrificing their lives walking for days to get to Mogadishu for help. You have a point regarding the perception of reporters moving around in packs...and this is because that is exactly the case. The situation in Somalia is still dangerous, and there is the constant threat of an attack by Al-Shebab. This is why we were always kept together as reporters. There is no way anyone can move out to find their own unique stories. We had to stick together for our own safety, and always had to be escourted by a convoy of armed guards. So yes, while you're right, that there's a need for more unique stories, due to the limitations in place, we did our best with what we had to work with. It was frustrating as journalists but from my side, I can confidently say that I was happy with the coverage I gave the story. Fahmida and I shared a room together on this trip, and we both worked really hard to make sure that our stories were creative, original, and gave a true reflection of the situation in Somalia. You are welcome to have a listen to the radio packages if you like.

    Kind regards,