Thursday, November 11, 2010

Aid convoy taken hostage by ship owner in row over payments #GazaConvoyHostages

This morning this Facebook Note was brought to my attention.  AidConvoy was leading the Road To Hope Convoy, and it is a charity in which my friend Kieran Turner is heavily involved.  Sadly, he was leading this convoy and was one of those taken hostage.  We're all very concerned for his safety.

A few days ago Aid Convoy were appealing for extra funds as they had to change their route to Gaza and go by sea rather than overland through Egypt.  What seems to have happened now is that the Greek ship owner had an argument with an Egyptian broker over the deal to use the ship, and decided to pull out of harbour without unmooring from the dock first (causing significant damage to the dock), with a convoy vehicle in the rear ship doorway, preventing the doorway from being closed.  Obviously without the hull sealed properly, this makes any sea journey incredibly dangerous.

What's been astonishing to me is how slow the traditional media are to react, even online, to such a dramatic event.  It could have all been over by the time the BBC got in on the act (unfortunately, it isn't) and reported on News 24 just before 3pm - around 15 hours after the original press release.  And it was not only the BBC who have been slow to react.  Could the national news organisations not manage a headline to say something was happening with a short paragraph of limited information?

It wasn't as if the information was unreliable.  There was a press relief by Aid Convoy themselves before midnight and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office were publicly acknowledging that they were talking to Libyan authorities by the time the first report appeared in a local newspaper.

The first large news site to report was the Daily Record in Scotland, followed by CNN, and only a short while ago the Independent.  If you'd like to follow this, I'm sure people will continue to post updates under the Twitter hashtag #GazaConvoyHostages, and we'd all love you dearly if you kept Kieran and his colleagues in your thoughts.