Tuesday, October 11, 2005

UNICEF Nukes Smurf Village

In a tasteless attempt to raise awareness for the plight of former child soldiers in Africa, UNICEF is airing a commercial in which Smurf Village is bombed, Smurfette is killed and Baby Smurf is orphaned. You can't make this stuff up. They are actually airing this cartoon commercial, but only after 9:00 PM so as not to upset children that like the Smurfs. (Fox: UNICEF Bombs Smurfs to Make Point).

Normally, I'm a big support of UNICEF, but one statement they made today is rather difficult to swallow. Philippe Henlon, Belgium spokesman for UNICEF said, "the public is not easily motivated to do things for humanitarian causes and certainly not when it involved Africa or children in war." I'm having a very difficult time accepting any aspect of that statement.

The public consistently steps up to support humanitarian efforts. Look at the money raised in a matter of days to support Hurricane Katrina victims and the amount raised to support the earthquake in Pakistan. In fact, anytime there is a disaster anyplace in the world, people of all nations immediately respond. Even nations that are political adversaries step up when humanitarian aid is required. Just two recent examples involve India sending aid to Pakistan and Iran offering aid to the US for Katrina. Please don't tell me that people do not respond to humanitarian need. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The second part of that statement is equally ludicrous. Africa receives a tremendous amount of aid from the rest of the world. In fact, I would argue that it already receives a disproportionate amount of aid, much to the detriment of Latin American and Southeast Asia. The amount of food, medicine, and financial aid sent to Africa from the rest of the world is staggering. The AIDS crisis alone has generated huge outpourings of support, and was even the primary topic at this year's G8 summit.

If UNICEF wants to raise awareness for the plight of developing nations, I have no problem with it, and support them wholeheartedly. But please don't try to claim that people don't respond to humanitarian causes or that Africa is somehow being short changed. Nothing could be further from the truth, and it only hurts the message you're trying to deliver.


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