For information only - not an official document.
      17 November 2000
 “Don’t Give Up on Africa” Pleads Secretary-General in Message
To Conference of Broadcast News Executives

Sporadic Coverage of  “Convulsion” Said to Be Misleading;
Needs of Continent, Efforts at Self-Help Deserving More Attention

NEW YORK, 16 November (UN Headquarters) -- This is the text of a statement today by Secretary-General Kofi Annan, delivered by satellite to the “News World” conference of broadcast news executives in Barcelona, Spain:

I am indeed distressed by the way the world media seem to have disengaged from Africa, or to report events there only sporadically, and I am very glad you are discussing this problem in your meeting.  Watching television in a western country, one gets the feeling that the cameras descend on Africa only when there is some major convulsion to report -- and then only stay there for a few minutes.  

 Sometimes I think that no coverage at all would be better than this sporadic portrayal.  It makes the whole continent look like one continuous disaster, where any help from outsiders is doomed to fail.

But I'm sure you would be wrong to give up, and I beg you not to do so.  Disengaging from Africa would do a real disservice, not just to Africa itself, but to the whole world.  People in more fortunate countries not only have a moral obligation to care about Africa, but also strong reasons of self-interest.  In these days of globalization, no part of the world can completely insulate itself from the travails and the suffering of any other.  Europe, especially, should be concerned about Africa, since Africans who are fleeing, from AIDS, poverty, or oppression are likely to head north.  And Europeans need to be informed, not only about Africa’s troubles, but also about its efforts at peace-making and to become more democratic and more self-reliant. 

Two months ago, at the Millennium Summit, the leaders of the whole world resolved to give priority to Africa's special needs.  So this is hardly the moment for the world media to turn the spotlight away from them.  The world's governments are much more likely to follow up on their good resolutions if you keep their electorates informed, with sustained and balanced reporting. 

In short, Africa depends on you.  And I hope you won’t let them down.

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