Letter: Flinching from the poor

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The Independent Online
Sir: Enough of disaster pornography. I am delighted that The Independent gave prominent coverage to Clare Short's attack on the degrading and damaging appeals used by aid agencies to raise money.

The success of these appeals depends on ghastly photographs, usually a starving black baby who is being tended by a white angel of mercy, and a simplistic, apolitical message that disguises a political catastrophe as a "humanitarian" disaster that can be corrected by a short-term injection of outside assistance. They destroy political accountability; the politicians responsible for the misery are off the hook internationally and the domestic pressure for political change is weakened. So the same disasters recur with painful regularity. And of course the Western public, saturated with these images, assumes that Africans cannot manage their own affairs, and that there is little point in investing in long-term development.

RAKIYA OMAAR

Director

African Rights

London SE1

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