BBC reporter Michael Buerk’s story led to the greatest single global outpouring of charity and sympathy in the late 20th century.
The famine was nothing new. But the images, delivered to our homes, horrified us to the point where we had to do something.
I thought of this today when a picture of a dead toddler, washed up on shore, raced across the Internet. He was in a group of 11 Syrians who drowned off Turkey after a failed attempt to flee the war.
This is what it takes now to pry the world from its stupor. In the years since the images from Ethiopia, we’ve grown more desensitized to human suffering.
The mass migration of people trying to flee war has one constant: the children. Always the children.
A young girl walks in front of Hungarian police officers guarding the main entrance as migrants protest outside Keleti station in central Budapest after it was closed to migrants earlier today on September 1, 2015 in Budapest, Hungary. The closure was said to be an attempt by the Hungarian government to uphold EU law and restore order after recent choatic scenes at the station. According to the Hungarian authorities a record number of migrants from many parts of the Middle East, Africa and Asia crossed the border from Serbia earlier this week, said to be due in part to the erection of a new fence that is due to be completed at the end of this month. Since the beginning of 2015 the number of migrants using the so-called Balkans route has exploded with migrants arriving in Greece from Turkey and then travelling on through Macedonia and Serbia before entering the EU via Hungary. The massive increase, said to be the largest migration of people since World War II, led Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban to order Hungary's army to build a steel and barbed wire security barrier along its entire border with Serbia, after more than 100,000 asylum seekers from a variety of countries and war zones entered the country so far this year. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)View full gallerySyrian refugees and migrants wait with children at a registration camp in Presevo after their arrival in Serbia on August 30, 2015. The EU is grappling with an unprecedented influx of people fleeing war, repression and poverty in what the bloc has described as its worst refugee crisis in 50 years. (AFP PHOTO / ARIS MESSINIS / Getty Images)A migrant holds a toddler during a demonstration against the Hungarian migration policy in front of the Eastern (Keleti) railway station in Budapest on August 30, 2015. Calls multiplied for Europe to finally get to grips with its ever-deadlier migrant crisis after Austria's horrific truck tragedy, as people continued to pour into Hungary from Serbia despite a newly completed razor-wire barrier. (Photo: GERGELY BESENYEI/AFP/Getty Images)Children of a group of migrants spend the night at the transit zone of the Keleti railway station in Budapest on September 1, 2015. Hungarian authorities face mounting anger from thousands of migrants who are unable to board trains to western European countries after the main Budapest station was closed. (Photo: ATTILA KISBENEDEK/AFP/Getty Images)Migrants rest near the Keleti Railway Station in Budapest, Hungary, Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2015, after police stopped them from getting on trains to Germany. Over 150,000 migrants have reached Hungary this year, most coming through the southern border with Serbia. Many apply for asylum but quickly try to leave for richer EU countries. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)Idomeni, Greece. Migrants, mostly from Syria, prepare for registration at a facility of the German Federal Police (Bundespolizei) on September 1, 2015 in Deggendorf, Germany. Trains from Budapest have brought over 1,000 migrants to Germany in the last 24 hours, though the flow abated quickly after Hungarian authorities prohibited migrants from boarding further trains at Budapest's Keleti station this morning. The police register the migrants, mostly from countries including Syria, Afghanistan and Eritrea, fingerprint them and check whether any are already in the European asylum-applicants or criminal databases. From there the migrants are free to travel within Germany to reception centers where they can apply for asylum. Up to 1,600 migrants are currently arriving in Bavaria in southern Germany a day and will seek asylum. Germany is expecting to receive 800,000 asylum-seeking migrants this year and is struggling to cope with the record number. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)A girl plays on the railway tracks as she waits with other migrants to be allowed to cross the borders from Idomeni town, northern Greece to southern Macedonia, Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015. Greece has been overwhelmed by record numbers of migrants this year, the vast majority from Syria and Afghanistan, reaching its eastern Aegean islands from the nearby Turkish coast. More than 200,000 have arrived. Nearly all head to Greece's northern border with Macedonia, cross into Serbia and Hungary and go toward more prosperous European countries. (AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos) A young migrant girl from Syria sleeps underneath passenger seats onboard a Blue Star ferry during a ten hour journey from the island of Kos to the Greek mainland port of Piraeus on September 1, 2015 in the Aegean Sea. From Piraeus many migrants continue north to the Greek border crossing at the town of Idomeni where they will cross over into Macedonia. Since the beginning of 2015 the number of migrants using the so-called 'Balkans route' has exploded with migrants arriving in Greece from Turkey and then travelling on through Macedonia and Serbia before entering the EU via Hungary. The number of people leaving their homes in war torn countries such as Syria, marks the largest migration of people since World War II. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
That’s the problem with traffic — humans doing stupid human things — that has, apparently, befuddled the smart people trying to build a transportation system that cuts them out of the equation. Read more →
Former Pretenders front woman Chrissie Hynde put people in an uncomfortable position of criticizing a rape victim for her response to rape with her comments to an interviewer about her new book. Read more →
Trace O’Connell, the South Dakota man accused of spilling beer and taunting Native American children at a hockey game in January, has been acquitted of a disorderly conduct charge stemming from the incident. Read more →
My morning walk is again cloaked in darkness. The sunrise song from the birds has mostly disappeared, save the occasional screech of a blue jay, which if you listen long enough begins to sound like a newspaper’s comments section.
Still, autumn is the most underrated of the seasons and it’s not really its fault, I contend. Read more →
An announcement that didn’t get a lot of notice when it was issued on Friday prompts us to recall one of the most turbulent moments in the history of public radio — the day NPR canned Bob Edwards, the longtime host of Morning Edition. Read more →
In Prince George’s County, Maryland last week, a young woman with a 1-year-old girl had finally had enough of domestic violence, which far too often is a choice between being beaten and being homeless. Read more →