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News

U.N. Official Calls for Aid in Worst Humanitarian Crisis Since 1945

According to United Nations humanitarian coordinator Stephen O’Brien, we are facing down the worst humanitarian crisis since 1945. He’s speaking of the more than 20 million people in Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia, and northeastern Nigeria who are facing starvation. He has asked the U.N. security council for $4.4 billion by July of this year, noting that, “without collective and coordinated global efforts, people will simply starve to death.”

The crisis is being driven by conflict in all four nations, including the ongoing fight against Boko Harem in Nigeria and the civil war that has raged in South Sudan since 2013 (where 42% of the population are food insecure). These are significant, man-made problems that are likely going to get worse during the lean season of June–August, pushing home the need for a quick reaction by the United Nations.

While the United Nations takes such crises seriously and will help to the best of their ability, there is of course room for nonprofits and individuals to help as well. In a time when the United States government is talking about cutting foreign aid, generous Americans will hopefully step up to make a difference.

These problems may not be in the U.S., but that doesn’t mean they don’t affect us. The kinds of problems that are faced by the people in these countries are the kind that tend to fuel further conflict, whether in a military sense or in the form of terrorism. People pushed to the edge can become desperate.

But even if that doesn’t happen, it is not the fault of the average person in these countries that they are subject to famine. Why should they suffer while so many of us have more than what we need? This is an opportunity to help our neighbors. Let’s just hope that help arrives before more people die.

Photo credit: EU/ECHO at Flickr Creative Commons. 

Categories
Advice

The Double-Edged Sword of a Celebrity Spokesperson

A celebrity spokesperson can be a huge boon for a nonprofit organization, but on the other hand, they can also be a huge roadblock. Take Tom Hiddleston, for example. Hiddleston recently earned the wrath of the Internet for expressing pride that a show he worked on was appreciated by medics from Doctors Without Borders.

Twitter users accused the actor of being a “white savior” because he was trying to bring attention to humanitarian efforts in the South Sudan. The whole debacle was taken out of context and blown way out of proportion. But that’s not the point.

Because he now has some negative press about him, so does the United Nations Children’s Fund (the nonprofit organization that he was serving as spokesman for). It goes to show that high-profile allies can and will be criticized for everything they do, and any affiliated organizations will have to suffer those consequences as well.

Angelina Jolie is another good example. She has done a great deal of good work with the United Nations since 2001. However, if social media worked then like it does now, that career would have been cut short because at some point she probably would have said or done something that the Internet could jump all over.

Social media is a powerful tool, but it’s far too often used to bully people, famous or otherwise. When a nonprofit teams up with a celebrity, they have to carefully consider what kinds of social media fallout they might have to face.

While there are some celebrities who are obviously not worth working with, there are others who would make for excellent spokespeople. The downside is that it’s impossible to predict the future and what could happen down the line at an awards show or red carpet event.

In considering whether or not to partner up with a celebrity, it’s important for nonprofits to have an eye on social media, which is where any little mistake is going develop into a full-blown scandal. The cult of celebrity status is much more fragile now that news spreads like wildfire. It’s important to think ahead, and be ready for “damage control” should something go wrong.

Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore at Flickr Creative Commons.