IAEA Chief Shuns BBC over Gaza Aid Appeal Ban

The head of the United Nation’s nuclear watchdog agency Mohamed ElBaradei spurred an interview request by the BBC in protest over the networks refusal to air an appeal for emergency aid to Gaza, the IAEA said Wednesday.

“He was so disturbed by the management’s decision not to air this humanitarian appeal that he decided to cancel the interviews and to not take part and also to make this publicly known,” Melissa Fleming, spokeswoman for the International Atomic Energy Agency, told AlArabiya.net.

The BBC and Sky news, Britain’s only 24-hour news station, both refused to aid the appeal by the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), an umbrella group of 13 respected charities that work in the most conflict-ridden areas in the world.

Three commercially owned terrestrial stations, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 aired the appeal Monday night and by Tuesday donations to DEC had doubled to more than £1 million.

Fleming said ElBaradei had seen the three-minute video, which shows images of destitute Palestinian women and children weeping while rummaging for food and shelter amid the rubble caused by Israel’s 22-day offensive on the Strip. It does not blame Israel or any other party for the devastation that left at least 412 children dead and 1,855 injured.

She said the chief had made his decision to cancel the scheduled interview before seeing the video but having heard the controversy, and that he had since viewed the appeal “which just solidified his decision.”

“He just believes when human beings are victims of any conflict that they should be able to receive humanitarian assistance and by airing such appeals you’re not making any statement about who was right and who was wrong,” said Fleming.

The Egyptian-born ElBaradei won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005 for his work at the IAEA and is to step down in November after three terms.

Media activists, religious groups and humanitarian campaigners around the world have condemned the refusal by the publicly-funded BBC not to broadcast the charity appeal for emergency funds for the people of Gaza over objectivity concerns.

Protests were held outside the BBC’s offices in London and the Archbishops of the Church of England, government ministers, opposition spokesmen and more than 11,000 viewers and 50 lawmakers have called for the BBC to reconsider its decision.

(Alarabiya.net; courtney C. Radsch)

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