Anton Goryunov reports from Manila: It always happens like that. Nature strikes, devastation occurs, lots of hacks descend on the place to provide some seriously dramatic news coverage, appeals for money are issued and then it all falls quiet. Media attention dies down, distracted by some other major event, like some celeb getting pregnant or found out to be a dope addict, and the victims, who were just a couple of weeks ago were shown on the box daily, are forgotten, with the relief effort getting no publicity as well, to the delight of some people who don’t want any attention really.
Which brings me to the typhoon that had struck the Philippines only a few weeks ago but has already been forgotten by now. They still haven’t managed to find all the bodies of the victims and establish the overall death count but hacks have already found other important stories to cover. Even though it’s the aftermath of any disaster that is actually more important to monitor then the calamity itself and the first couple of days after it. Big things happen in the follow-up periods of Mother Nature showing who’s the boss. Like it happened in so many places where the damage is still apparent and some victims are neglected by relief agencies and charities. Haiti anyone?
The mere fact that it was the United Nations that was, and still is, overseeing the relief effort in the Philippines should have sent alarm bells ringing in most editorial rooms. This is the same UN that had some of its officials involved in drug smuggling and prostitution running in post-war Kosovo and screwing up with the Arab Spring and misusing money in Haiti in 2010 and in South-East Asia after the devastating tsunami of 2007. But no, not a single hack saw the irony of the situation in the Philippines. Just reported about the international community doing its bit to save the poor victims of the typhoon.
It has now become a cliché really, those international efforts to cope with the aftermaths of natural disasters. Huge amounts of money are raised as donations, dodgy looking people going in to help, hacks providing all the glare of publicity, celebs appealing for more money while never actually donating anything themselves and then it all goes eerily quiet. Men at work, you see. No point in disturbing them. And several years later we learn that not that much has been done really and lots of people are still living in temporary accommodation. Job f..ked up is a job still done, as they say in the corridors of power.
In an ideal world relevant law enforcement agencies should be investigating anyone who has any connection to the relief effort from the word go. They need to find out how the money was used, whether there was any abuse of the victims taking place, because a lot of charity workers turn out to be perverts as well, and what role UN officials on the ground were playing. And if anyone of these people are found guilty of some crimes, bang them up in prison. Because in the past 30 years or so too many nasty individuals and groups have been profiting from relief efforts. And that has to stop, as many more disasters are coming, with fracking alone helping it to happen.