Page last updated at 23:16 GMT, Thursday, 22 January 2009

BBC defends Gaza appeal decision

Scene in Gaza on 21 January 2009
The BBC said the decision had been made with other broadcasters

The BBC has defended a decision not to air a TV fund-raising appeal for Gaza, saying it wanted to avoid compromising public confidence in its impartiality.

It said a decision was taken with other broadcasters not to show the Disasters Emergency Committee crisis appeal on any network in the UK.

A corporation statement added there were also doubts about "the delivery of aid in a volatile situation".

DEC said there was "clear evidence" the British public wanted to help.

In a statement, the BBC said: "The BBC decision was made because of question marks about the delivery of aid in a volatile situation and also to avoid any risk of compromising public confidence in the BBC's impartiality in the context of an ongoing news story.

"However, the BBC will, of course, continue to report the humanitarian story in Gaza."

A spokesman for ITV told the Times website: "The DEC did ask broadcasters if they could support the appeal.

"We assessed the DEC's request carefully against agreed criteria and were unable to reach the consensus which is necessary for an appeal."

Disasters Emergency Committee Gaza humanitarian appeal:
Launched on 22 January to raise money for Gaza aid relief and reconstruction
Participants: Action Aid, British Red Cross, Cafod, Care International, Christian Aid, Concern Worldwide, Help the Aged, Islamic Relief, Merlin, Oxfam, Save the Children, Tearfund, World Vision
Tel: 0370 60 60 900 or go to DEC website

DEC is an umbrella organisation representing a number of aid agencies.

Spokeswoman Shaista Aziz said it was confident in the abilities of DEC members and other parts of the organisation to respond and there was an "overwhelming humanitarian need".

She added: "We regret the fact that the message we wanted to get across will not reach as many people as hoped."

Action Aid, the British Red Cross, Cafod, Care International UK, Islamic Relief, Oxfam, Save the Children and Tearfund are among the agencies affiliated to DEC.

Launching the appeal, DEC chief executive Brendan Gormley said: "DEC agencies have a humanitarian mandate. We are not proposing to attempt to rebuild Gaza... with the public's support we can help relieve short-term needs."

The British government has pledged to give 30m in humanitarian aid to crisis-torn Gaza.

At least 1,300 Palestinians were killed, nearly a third of them children, and 5,500 injured in the Israeli operation, which began on 27 December, Palestinian medical sources in Gaza say.

Israel says that it acted to stop Hamas militants targeting Israeli towns with rocket fire.

Thirteen Israelis, including three civilians, have been killed, the Israeli army says.

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