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As Somalia Famine Continues, Liz Jones Moans

Posted on the 05 August 2011 by Periscope @periscopepost
As Somalia famine continues, Liz Jones moans

Mass grave for children, Dadaab. Photocredit: Oxfam East Africa,

Somalia remains in the grip of a famine that has so far killed 29,000 children under five. Four percent of all children in the country are likely to have died over the past 90 days, according to estimates from the US Agency for International Development. Aid agencies continue to operate in areas controlled by al Shabab despite the ban imposed by the Islamist group on humanitarian groups including the World Food Programme. Refugees from the south are fleeing to camps at Dadaab in Kenya and near Mogadishu; Reuters reported that ten people were killed in a firefight in the capital after trucks carrying food were looted. As debate rages over whether the famine in southern Somalia should have been predicted, Turkey has demanded that the Organisation of the Islamic Conference hold an emergency meeting on the famine. The magnitude of the situation clearly calls for the finest, most in-depth media response – or in other words, send in Liz Jones. At least, that’s what The Daily Mail believes: the newspaper has dispatched the controversial writer, author of the column Liz Jones Moans, to report on the situation in situ.

Twenty-nine thousand children under five have died in Somalia over the past 90 days, according to the US Agency for International Development.

  • The NHS is useless. Liz Jones announced in her Daily Mail column that she would be flying to the region to cover the famine. Sadly, readers will have to wait to learn her thoughts on the tens of thousands of people dying in Somalia, as she had a greater problem with which to contend: doctors are mean. Jones’s local GP’s surgery refused to give her a same-day appointment for vaccinations on the grounds that she wasn’t registered with the practice, they were not sure they had the vaccine in stock, the nurse was fully booked and they didn’t have access to her medical notes. Flimsy excuses, any right-thinking person would surely agree, and Jones gave the hapless receptionist the full force of her ire: “Millions of people are dying and you won’t put yourself out to allow me to be seen by a nurse, not even a doctor, for five minutes?”

  • “Grotesque”. Over at The Guardian’s Comment is Free, Ros Coward was unimpressed.  ”Even if she is motivated, writes well and is capable of grasping wider issues, isn’t it grotesque to send someone who represents the worst excesses of the western fashion industry’s obsession with dieting and appearance into situations where people are struggling to survive?” Coward thundered.

Ways to donate to the famine relief effort: DEC East Africa appeal, UNICEF, The Red Cross and Oxfam.

  • “Brutally honest”. Ros Coward also brought up Jones’s account of her recent full face lift – described as “brutally honest” by The Daily Mail’s You Magazine – as evidence of her unsuitability to cover the crisis. Clearly, Coward missed the point that having undergone the operation, Jones is well able to endure hardship: “Because of my blurred vision, I can’t read or watch TV. But I’m too ill to care. The night is the second worst of my life: the pain in my head, coupled with the feeling of being stretched, is almost unbearable. I am only allowed to sleep on my back, propped up with pillows,” the former Marie Claire editor wrote in her post-op diary.

“I really hope my work out here does some good; a decent tan, a better figure, a newfound respect for human suffering – maybe a book deal?” @LizJonesSomalia

  • Silver lining. A spoof Twitter account documenting Jones’s travails has raised over £17,000 for East Africa. Started by @DMReporter, the account of @LizJonesSomalia contains such insights as “Almost all Somali food is vegetarian, but this doesn’t resemble any spinach and Gruyère quiche I’ve ever seen…” and “Woke up in a ballgown kind of mood today. They always say you should dress down for famine, but some rules are just meant to be broken.” According to @DMReporter, the spoof wasn’t just for laughs: “It’s about highlighting the crisis in East Africa and opposing the staggering crassness of sending a crossbreed of Glenn Beck and Anthea Turner to Somalia to cover it.”
  • Courting controversy. This is not the first time Liz Jones has run into trouble over her investigative journalism. Her decision to retrace the last night of Joanna Yeates, who was murdered in December 2010, sparked widespread criticism. “It’s Friday night and I’m in the Ram bar on Park Street in Bristol. This is where Joanna Yeates spent her last evening,” Jones wrote. “I wish she had spent what were probably her last hours on earth somewhere lovelier. The food is awful (I ask for a veggie burger and it comes without the burger – and without the bun!).” Jones went on to criticise someone who had left a floral tribute to the murdered architect for not including a note.

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