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TIMESOFEMERGENCY

Radio has a vital role when natural or man-made disaster

strikes.

Francesca Unsworth

, Director, BBC World Service

Group explains the work her organisation does when lives

are in danger

Action, which I chair, also plays a

key role in humanitarian

emergencies, as well as longer-term

development work. In particular, it

provides training to aid providers

and to community radio stations

which are sometimes listeners’ only

link to the outside world.

LIFELINES

After a disaster, accurate

information can be as important –

and in as short supply – as water,

food or medical care.

Lifeline programming provides

accurate and timely information in

the wake of a disaster, helping

those affected to make choices

about what they do next – whether

they should stay in the area,

whether they can leave, whether

help is coming and when.

We’ve operated during flooding

in India and Myanmar, cyclones in

Bangladesh, and conflict in Gaza, to

name just a few recent examples.

New technology has enabled the

BBC to respond to emergencies in

different and innovative ways,

Accurate

information

is as

important

as water,

food or

medical

care

uring the Tiananmen

Square student

demonstrations in

1989, a banner was

held high above

the crowd. It said,

simply, ‘Thank You

BBC’. This wasn’t the first nor last

time that our listeners have shown

that they’ve turned to the BBC

World Service in times of crisis and

emergency.

In fact, since its founding in

1932, through World War II, the

Cold War, and the Arab Spring to

the present day, listeners around

the world have relied on the BBC to

bring them accurate, impartial

news and information in both

ordinary and extraordinary times.

From General De Gaulle

broadcasting to the citizens of

occupied France, to Rajiv Ghandi

hearing the news of his mother’s

assassination via a small transistor

radio, to Aung San Suu Kyi

keeping ‘in touch with my people’

through radio during her house

arrest, the BBC World Service has

been a vital part of people’s lives

during crises.

CALL OF DUTY

Now, as then, we’re a global

operation with bureaux across the

world. Often, it is BBC reporters

who find themselves in the midst of

disasters, whether natural or man-

made.

Last year Nepali service

journalists demonstrated real

courage as they continued

reporting and broadcasting

immediately after the devastating

earthquakes. When their building

was deemed unsafe to re-enter

following aftershocks, they set up a

temporary office and held their

editorial meetings outside in the

courtyard.

As the service editor said: “We

realised that the call of duty

prevails over the sense of fear…my

colleagues said they didn’t become

journalists to run away from

situations like this.”

The BBC’s international

development charity, BBC Media

D

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WORLD RADIO DAY 2016

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CELEBRATING RADIO

THE BUSINESS OF RADIO

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CRISIS & EMERGENCY