Friday, March 19, 2010

More Band Aid allegations - this morning, from Band Aid

Bob Geldof's furious attack on the quality of BBC journalism following the reports about how some Ethiopian famine relief might have found its way into the hands of civil war fighters gets a sharp slapdown from an unexpected source this morning. the Daily Mail must have decided they dislike Geldof even more than they hate the BBC:

Today, for the first time, the Band Aid man on the ground in Ethiopia speaks out exclusively to The Daily Mail, saying he believes it is possible that up to 20 per cent of donor's money went to fund the rebels.

Furthermore, he told me that he personally sympathised with the rebel cause he calls 'a liberating force', and travelled in convoys he suspected were transporting arms to them.

John James was Band Aid Field Director in Ethiopia from 1985-91 and was awarded an MBE for his charity work. He says: 'I would be surprised if it were any less than 10-20 per cent of funds were diverted to the rebels.

'Did I sympathise with the rebels? Yes. We would not have tolerated any direct assistance in the purchase of arms or condoned it, but just remember it was a highly complex situation.'

James, a farmer who is now 85 and living in Devon, adds: 'I think it is ridiculous for anybody to claim that not one penny of aid money was diverted.

'You couldn't help the hungry in the rebel-held areas without helping the rebels. You have to be realistic about that. It is probable that some money was diverted to buy arms. I believe a just use was made of the money. I think it fulfilled the interests of the donors.'

It's looking increasingly like Geldof's fixation on the one quote in the World Service programme that 95% of aid was misdirected in Tigray is the classic approach of finding one thing wrong, in an attempt to discredit the whole. The sort of tactic that people who don't believe in global warming use.