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Top picks: The lessons of Haiti for Nepal, Sudan's conflict and UN whistleblowers

U.S. Marines protect food distributions from possible looting at the golf course in Port-au-Prince, Haiti UN Photo/Marco Dormino
Welcome to IRIN's weekly assortment of noteworthy humanitarian journalism and research, compiled by the editorial team.

Five to read:

How not to report an earthquake

Jonathan Katz was one of the few foreign journalists based in the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince when an earthquake struck in 2010, killing up to 316,000 people. He saw first-hand the mistakes made when reporting on natural disasters. The coverage, he points out, focussed disproportionately on how those left behind were becoming violent. Millions of dollars were spent on security that could otherwise have gone to feeding those in need. For those seeking to learn the lessons of Haiti, this is essential reading. 

Don’t rush to help Nepal. Read this first

Claire Bennett, a long-time resident of Nepal, was away when the earthquake hit. She was torn between her desperation to get back to the country she loves and the realisation that she would be of very little use and more likely just to add to the congestion at the airport. This, she says, is a lesson for those wanting to help – leave it to those best qualified. Her key tips include: give money rather than donating goods; think about sustainability when donating; and if you really want to go and help, at least wait until there is space at the airport. 

Open Letter to The Media, re: Nepal Earthquake

In this provocative criticism of the role the media plays after natural disasters, an aid worker accuses media organisations of judging earthquake responses by unreasonable standards. As he puts it, in a year’s time the media will criticise the response because, “after a gazillion dollars in aid, Kathmandu will still not look like Singapore.” He calls for the media to clearly lay out what would be a successful redevelopment now, so they can judge aid agencies by fair standards further down the line.

UN aid worker suspended for leaking report on child abuse by French troops

This Guardian exclusive revealed that a senior United Nations aid worker has been suspended for leaking a key report into allegations that French peacekeeping troops sexually abused children as young as nine in the Central African Republic. Anders Kompass is said to have acted after the UN failed to act upon the allegations, with the UN suspending him for breaching his contract.

Inside Sudan’s war-torn Darfur

Blink and you might have missed it, but this week there was an election in Sudan. The winner – with more than 94 percent of the vote – was 71-year-old President Omar al-Bashir, ruler for the past 25 years. The victory means Bashir will continue to evade the International Criminal Court, where he faces charges for crimes allegedly committed in the Darfur region. In a rare glimpse into the still war-torn region, Time photographer Adriane Ohanesian captures the lives of refugees in the Marra Mountains.

One to watch:

A Google Earth tour of Nepal devastation

Reported.ly's Andy Carvin provides a guided tour of the destruction in Nepal using Google Earth maps and still images. An innovative way to help people comprehend the level of destruction.

From IRIN:

Why wasn't quake-prone Nepal better prepared?

In a provocative analysis, news editor Anthony Morland questions whether the Nepalese government ignored the threat of an earthquake due to political infighting. Morland points out that the country’s disaster response is still based upon a 1982 law, while new legislation – drafted in 2008 – was never passed, largely because of political rivalry.

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