The slow response of the international community to the famine in East Africa led to the needless suffering of millions of comparatively well-off TV viewers after it caused what aid organisations have described as “avoidable TV appearances by Lenny Henry”.
The full scale and impact of the TV appearances is not yet known, but claims that it could have been avoided, or at least limited to a 5 minute This Morning interview with Phillip Schofield, has led to accusations that the international community failed to act quickly enough.
Oxfam and Save the Children say it took more than six months for aid agencies to act on warnings of imminent televised coverage of Lenny Henry pulling silly faces and doing an impression of a botanist who hasn’t appeared on TV for about 25 years.
“It is appalling that the international community and the governments of Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia wait until they see footage of the UK population cringing in front of their TV screens, before they take any action to stop it,” said Oxfam’s Chief Executive Barbara Stocking.
“This suffering, as well as the pain caused by charity singles, could be so easily avoided if the early warning signs were recognised.”
Save the Children’s Chief Executive, Justin Forsyth, said clear warnings had been ignored.
“To let a famine reach such proportions that it prompts a live televised charity show hosted by Lenny Henry is grotesque,” he said
“We need to learn from the mistakes that have been made to ensure this sort of widescale suffering never occurs again.”