Who could ever forget the harrowing images that were screened when BBC Correspondent Michael Buerk and cameraman Mohammed Amin first brought the plight of millions of starving Ethiopians into the nations living rooms in 1984?
It was one of those rare Television occasions where a spoken narrative was not needed to convey or reinforce the sheer scale of desperation and unprecedented human suffering.
Buerk provided on-the-spot coverage of a “famine of biblical proportions,” and helped galvanize the public outcry for a massive humanitarian aid effort, which led ultimately to a series of internationally televised concerts, led by Sir Bob Geldof, featuring rock stars from around the world.
Live Aid raised around £150 million in that now famous July of 1985.
But, beneath the celebrity endorsements and glitz, suspicions were being voiced and rumours began to circulate regarding the true purpose behind this huge event.
The rumours persisted, which may have been the reason why in 2010, some 25 years later, the BBC had reported that after a year of investigation, it concluded that almost the entire amount of the money raised went on weapons, not food or humanitarian aid.
The link to the original BBC source of that report, no longer exists, strangely.
One of the major causes of the Ethiopian famine was the ongoing Civil war between Ethiopia’s Russian-backed government and an American-backed rebel group, the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).
The worst of the famine-hit areas was concentrated in an area controlled by the TPLF.
Despite this, Geldof and Live Aid simply handed millions of dollars over to the TPLF, the only guarantee given was that the rebels would ‘promise’ to spend it on food and aid.
What the BBC report uncovered, was that less than 5% of the donated money went on aid, and over 95% of the money went on bankrolling the crooked political and military regimes.
The majority of the donated food did not reach it’s intended destination either.
It took the BBC 25 years to figure this out.
Geldof and the Live Aid Trustees must have been only too aware that the TPLF were rebels engaged in a bloody and brutal civil war.
Were they that naive to really believe, that simply handing over millions to a regime as corrupt as what existed in Ethiopia at that time, mean that it would have been spent wisely?
According to a 2010 Sky News report, Bob Geldof and the Band Aid Trust were going to make an official complaint to the BBC, and other international aid organisations would be supporting them, asserting that the BBC claims were based on “dubious sources and rumour,” without “a shred of credible evidence.”
The original SkyNews link no longer exists exists either.
Well, who cares anyway?
It was years ago after all, and seems almost benign compared to what’s going on right now in the world.
So why is information regarding this still being deleted from the Internet?