Aid staff and famine-stricken Somalian refugees expressed their shock today at the News of the World phone-hacking revelations.
Françoise Chevalier, 35, a nurse with Médecins Sans Frontières, whose clinics and feeding centres in Kenya and Somalia have been completely overwhelmed by the effects of the devastating drought told our correspondent she was appalled. “Steve Coogan, that poor man – how must he be feeling right now, to know that some grubby private investigator was listening to his voicemails?” she demanded, taking a break from handing out desperately-needed packs of rehydration salts to newly-arrived refugees, many of them children who walked for days without food or water to reach the Dadaab camp in Kenya. “And then for the police not to take the allegations seriously as well, it’s just so awful.”
“It’s absolutely outrageous; I can’t believe a paper owned by Rupert Murdoch would ever stoop so low,” added Omar Muhammad, a 43-year-old farm labourer, from the field hospital where he is undergoing treatment for acute malnutrition.
He expressed concern too for the fate of the journalists employed at the now-defunct News of the World. “How are they going to cope? Not only to lose your job, but to know you might never again have the chance to scoop the Sunday People on who Cheryl Cole’s been seen talking to this week – that’s got to be a hard thing to come to terms with.” He then tried unsuccessfuly to lift a bottle of water to his parched lips, before collapsing back onto his rickety camp bed, exhausted.
There has even been talk of setting up some kind of fundraising appeal to help those affected by the affair, but there are some who are doubtful it will be successful. “The trouble is that there are so many scandals like this in Europe and the US that people get cynical” explained 17-year-old Fatima Al-Ahmed from the tarpaulin-and-timber shelter she shares with half a dozen other teenagers. “You just find yourself thinking, ‘It’s all so corrupt. When are these people going to learn to govern themselves properly?’”