Media coverage dampened by restricted access

Aid agencies have told how poor communication lines and restricted access to the country are hampering efforts to get media coverage for the Burma crisis.

It is also believed that the Chinese earthquake had the effect of diminishing coverage of Burma in the UK press this week.

Action Aid's senior media officer Tony Durham said the difficulties of getting good internet and phone connections meant the charity had not been able to provide ‘the steady daily flow of news that the media dem­ands'.

He said: ‘It is totally frustrating. We are turning down major TV channels because they want to speak to someone on the ground.'

World Vision already had people on the ground when Cyclone Nargis hit so was able to gain significant media coverage from the outset.

Anna Ridout, World Vis­ion's emergency press offi­cer, agreed that providing the media with English-speaking people on the ground was ‘hugely important', with int­erviews taking place over the phone due to res­tricted access for TV crews.

World Vision is delivering its own relief supplies and was able to provide the med­ia with pictures. Film crews have also been invited to the agency's Bangkok operational hub to show how the organisation is res­ponding to the unique challenges.

Meanwhile, this week's earthquake in China is tho­ught to have hit fundraising efforts. ‘There isn't room for unlimited Asian disasters in the news', said Durham. ‘The effect is noticeable.'

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