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DEC Gaza Crisis Appeal

Over 120 Members of Parliament have expressed their astonishment at the BBC’s refusal to broadcast the Disasters Emergency Committee Gaza Crisis Appeal.

Today I tabled a motion in the House of Commons with the support of 122 MPs from across all the main political parties (see latest version here).

The motion says:
That this House is astonished by the refusal of the BBC and Sky to broadcast the Disasters Emergency Committee Gaza Crisis Appeal; considers that the explanations given for this decision by BBC spokespersons are both unconvincing and incoherent; and draws attention to the fact that people wishing to obtain information about the Gaza appeal can contact the DEC by visiting www.dec.org.uk.

The fact that well over 100 MPs from different parties have signed this Commons motion shows the breadth of concern about the position which the BBC and Sky are taking. The arguments that BBC managers have been putting forward in defence of their refusal to screen this appeal have shown themselves to be even more even unconvincing and contradictory as time has gone on.

Viewers and listeners can see the difference between a humanitarian appeal and politics – even if the BBC and Sky management cannot. BBC and Sky bosses have the power to make the editorial decisions they want. The rest of us have the right to say they are wrong.

This appeal comes from thirteen of the UK’s most respected charities. The needs of a child traumatised by war in Gaza are no more or less important than those of a traumatised child in another war zone. The BBC has had no difficulty in broadcasting appeals for war zones like Congo and Darfur. Maintaining the BBC’s proud tradition of impartiality means it should treat Gaza no differently.

Congratulations to ITV, Channel 4, and Five for broadcasting the Disasters Emergency Committee’s Gaza appeal. The refusal of the BBC and Sky News to join them is astonishing. This isn’t about the rights and wrongs of Israel’s actions in Gaza – even though many of us do have strong feelings about that. It’s about saving lives. The events of last month killed over 1,300 people in Gaza. 400 children died and 1,800 have been left injured. Thousands of homes have been destroyed. 500,000 people have little clean water. Food and medicines are urgently needed. What on earth is wrong with broadcasting an appeal to tell people that just £50 could provide a food parcel to feed a family in Gaza for a month?

We all need to remember that the important people in all of this are the people who are suffering in Gaza now. I urge everyone who can make a donation, however small, to help them by donating at www.dec.org.uk or phoning 0370 60 60 900.