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Why is there no mention of the 100 dead from the terrorist attack in Somalia?

Although the terrorist attack in Somalia, which left a hundred dead, is a worrying event at a global level, it has received little coverage, what are the reasons?

attack in somalia

Photo: The Sixth

LatinAmerican Post | Luis Ángel Hernández Liborio

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Leer en español: ¿Por qué no se habla de los 100 muertos del ataque terrorista en Somalia?

The world's front pages (and its digital equivalent) were dominated by the tragedy in South Korea, where a human stampede caused the death of at least 150 people on Halloween night. At the same time, two attacks occurred in Somalia that caused the death of 120 people, so far, although the media coverage has been less, what is the reason for this phenomenon?

Don't Compare Tragedies

First, it is important to clarify that no tragedy is more or less important than another, that is, when talking about the reasons why the tragedy in South Korea is given more coverage than that in Somalia, we do not seek to compare the level of "tragedy" between them, but to refer to the communicative bias.

Two events occurred just a few hours apart, one in South Korea and the other in Somalia, both with a tragic result: more than a hundred deaths. However, the main media in the world focused their machinery on what happened in Asia, giving only a small space to what happened in Somalia, and, in some cases, it was not even mentioned. The violence of the terrorist attacks in the African country should be a main note in the world, the brutality and the high number of victims should set off alarms for the international community, but the reality is different.

In South Korea, it is difficult for an event to end with the death of more than 150 people. It is an extraordinary event that, due to its characteristics, attracted the attention of the international press. The harshness of what happened in Somalia should have been taken into account by the press to give coverage as great as that received by the Asian country.

One of the reasons is still the Eurocentric conception (expanded to the United States, Japan, South Korea, and Australia) that prevails in the media. If we see it at a sporting and cultural level, the events that have taken place in Europe, the United States, and developed countries in Asia always stand out, and rarely those in Latin America, Africa, and a good part of Asia. The powerful culture that manages to sustain itself with local and regional consumption.

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“Everyday” Events In Developing Countries

The attack in Somalia joins others that have occurred in the last five years, the deadliest in 2017 when a truck exploded causing the death of more than 500 people, an alarming figure in developed countries, but in developing countries, it can go unnoticed because it is considered part of their daily life. An example in Latin America is Mexico, where in the first half of 2022 15,000 people died in events related to organized crime, while in Ukraine the figure is estimated at the half, 7,000. In the North American country, when considered something “ daily” during the last decade the capacity for amazement has been lost and the news goes unnoticed, contrary to what happens in Europe and the United States.

On the other hand, the number of deaths in the Russian intervention in Ukraine, as well as the number of displaced persons, has received global and repeated coverage that is far from that received by Mexico with its serious security problems. The case of Somalia is similar, the terrorist attacks are mistakenly considered part of the countries that profess Islam, as well as the political instability and even the poverty that characterize this African country. It is also worth clarifying that South Korea has not received coverage only because of its character as a developed country, but also because of its intense cultural presence in the world: its music and audiovisual products in general are well received in the United States, Europe, and Latin America.

Thanks to these products, people in the world manage to feel identified with the tragedy in South Korea, since they have formed a bond through their cultural products. In contrast, with Somalia there is little or no identity, for most it would be difficult to find it on a map, and not having a link makes it easy to dehumanize the tragedy and see it as another phenomenon like those that occur daily in the world. This means that the further away the problem is geographic, the less important it will be for people if there is no link between them.

The countries that do not have the cultural and economic impact of South Korea depend entirely on the national and international civil society that denounces the serious events that occur in them. In Somalia, in addition to the terrorist attacks by Al-Shabab, poverty and the treatment that women and girls receive by the terrorist group are also denounced, although the actions in that part of the world are scarce, which adds to the instability of the government. Any of these topics would be a world trend for several days if it happened in Europe, the United States, Japan, or Korea, just remember the attack on the French magazine Charlie Hebdo in 2015 or the global effects of the attacks of September 11, 2001.