Only earthquakes hit the news
The tale of human suffering in Africa is so repetitive and so constant that it goes virtually unreported in the majority of news outlets around the world. Today Algeria is mentioned because an earthquake has killed hundreds of people overnight.
Thenia, the epicenter of the earthquake which struck Algeria last night, 60 km to the east of the capital of Algiers, is a pile of rubble, with hundreds of people still buried under the collapsed buildings. To date there are 530 dead and up to 5,000 injured, and the local authorities claim hundreds of more victims are to be expected. Blocks of flats collapsed like packs of cards, their floors falling one on top of the other.
However tragic this disaster is, however much of a human catastrophe, the thousands of deaths per day, every day, every week of every year, through conflict and disease no longer hit the headlines because they do not respect the rules of modern journalism: a two-week climax to built up to and cool down from while the circus finds another top story.
Africa does not fit in with this norm, Ebola outbreaks being the only story which merits the front page due to the horrendous and novel characteristics of this disease. The thousands of cases of dysentery in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, affecting nearly ten thousand displaced persons around Bunia, have met with a stony wall of silence. The mortar attacks on UN compounds in the same country, which have caused tens of victims, are likewise ignored.
The bloody power struggle between the Lendu and Hema militia groups in the DR Congo, over rich mineral resources, has gone practically unreported. The massacres and executions which beset the town of Bunia, leaving scores of horribly mutilated bodies rotting in the streets, including children, women and priests, is treated with a shrug of the shoulders.
Only the United Nations Organization speaks out, calling on all countries to mobilize to stop this humanitarian catastrophe from unfolding before it is too late. However, the United Nations Organization as an institution was derided and disrespected wholly and completely by the United States of America, the United Kingdom and their supporters, Australia, Spain, Portugal and Poland, recently, the result being...a shrug of the shoulders. Evil won the day over the forces of good.
The silence of the press colludes with this notion of the powerlessness of the common man to do something to re-establish a situation in which the rule of law is respected. The silence of the press does nothing to call the attention of the human race to what is happening in Africa, where individuals, deprived of resources and deprived of the Internet, have no means to make their voices heard.
The thousands of internally displaced persons caught up in the midst of violent ethnic struggles in Liberia are news in the UN building, nowhere else. Only here do people hear about LURD and the new rebel group, MODEL, and the atrocities committed by and against them. The thousands of persons at risk in neighboring Sierra Leone and the Ivory Coast (17,000 and 38,000 respectively) go unmentioned.
Were they North Americans or Europeans, were they white and from "developed" nations the story would be different - and splashed across every front page.
However, to be "developed" is more than a passive economic state, it is a way of being and a title one earns through action and expediency.