BBC promotes UNRWA lie

On April 9th 2013 the BBC reported on the reopening of UNRWA food distribution centres in the Gaza Strip after their closure several days previously due to rioting by members of the local population.

UNRWA centres

The report quotes former BBC employee and current UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness:

“Unrwa spokesman Chris Gunness said the decision was based on assurances “received from different local parties” that its property and staff would be safe.

He said: “Unrwa was forced to close its distribution and relief offices last week due to ongoing demonstrations that affected its operations, a regrettable decision that hindered the agency’s ability to provide much needed services and relief supplies to Palestine refugees in Gaza.

“While Unrwa understands the frustration of the population, heightened by the tightened blockade on the Gaza Strip, and respects the right to peaceful demonstrations, Unrwa must ensure the safety and security of its staff.” ” [emphasis added]

Interestingly, the UNRWA press release on the subject reads as follows:

“Based on the assurances UNRWA in Gaza received from different local parties, the Agency will reopen its installations across the Gaza Strip effective today, Tuesday 9 April. UNRWA was forced to close its distribution and relief offices last week due to ongoing demonstrations that affected its operations, a regrettable decision that hindered the Agency’s ability to provide much needed services and relief supplies to Palestine refugees in Gaza.  While UNRWA understands the frustration of the population, heightened by the tightened blockade on the Gaza Strip, and respects the right to peaceful demonstrations, UNRWA must ensure the safety and security of its staff. UNRWA in Gaza reaffirms that while it is re-opening these facilities now, if its staff or facilities are threatened or operations hindered by demonstrations in the future, it will again be forced to close those installations.” [emphasis added]

So it looks as though whoever wrote this BBC report simply reproduced the bulk of the UNRWA press release, without making that fact clear. He or she also failed to exercise any editorial judgement by including in that report the part of the UNRWA statement which refers to a mythical “tightened blockade on the Gaza Strip”.

If it was deemed absolutely necessary to include those misleading and erroneous words from the UNRWA spokesman, then for the sake of adherence to the BBC’s editorial guidelines on accuracy, an explanation of the fact that since 2010 the blockade has actually been relaxed rather than “tightened” should have been inserted into the report. 

The BBC’s Editorial Guidelines state:

“The BBC must not knowingly and materially mislead its audiences.  We should not distort known facts, present invented material as fact or otherwise undermine our audiences’ trust in our content.”

Allowing the inventions of persons or organisations quoted by the BBC to be passed on to audiences uncorrected, as though they were fact, clearly constitutes a failure to adhere to editorial guidelines. 

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2 comments on “BBC promotes UNRWA lie

  1. Pingback: La BBC, l’Unrwa e quel mitico blocco… | Bugie dalle gambe lunghe

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