Breaking through the Media Clutter

Ukraine is experiencing two simultaneous tragedies: a political challenge to its governing authority and a humanitarian crisis as artillery shells rain down on innocent civilians.

The international press tells us about the first tragedy, Putin’s violation of Ukraine’s borders and his determination to redraw the map of Eastern Europe by force. The brazen land grab of Crimea – which no one mentions anymore – and the installation of thugs who have seized the levers of power in eastern Ukraine comes at the cost of the global system established since World War II. It weakens the United Nations and slaps our European allies in the face as they repeatedly try to negotiate a ceasefire.

The invasion has created a chill in international relations if not a resumption of the Cold War. No reasonable person wants to go back to the days of MAD (mutual assured destruction) with a sword of Damocles hanging over the entire world and the “hard rain” (nuclear fallout) predicted in a Bob Dylan song.

But as this vicious conflict grinds on with no end in sight, the press has largely failed to cover the humanitarian disaster it is leaving in its wake.

Up to five million people in eastern Ukraine desperately need humanitarian assistance including 1.7 million children according to UNICEF. More than 1,000,000 refugees struggle for survival in Ukraine’s bitter winter, and relief agencies are stretched to the breaking point as the situation worsens every week. The more than 5,000 dead do not affect the calculus of relief but leave behind grieving family members who are losing the will to live.

Russia sends convoys of “humanitarian aid,” one would think through a guilty conscience, but the trucks carry weapons and only token supplies of food. The citizens of eastern Ukraine cry out in distress while the press provides blanket coverage of the latest ceasefire.

SUN knows the generosity of the American people will meet the challenge of this humanitarian disaster. But it hasn’t happened yet because the people don’t know about it. Unless the voices of suffering and the tales of woe break through the media clutter, Ukrainians will get sick, and many of them will die. Meanwhile, we will only learn about the latest city under siege instead of the latest children to lose their parents.

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