Tyler Hicks’ Somalia Photo Stirs Reactions

Four months ago, Westport native Tyler Hicks and 3 New York Times correspondents — including fellow Staples grad Lynsey Addario — were captured in Libya.

Last month Tyler was back in Africa, chronicling South Sudan‘s independence.

Now he’s in Somalia.  Yesterday the Times ran his harrowing photo of a starving child on Page 1.

According to the Huffington Post, the photo touched many hearts.

It outraged others.

Huffington Post reports:  “While jarring, Times executive editor Bill Keller told (us) that the decision to publish was ‘kind of a no-brainer.'”  The photo was “pretty much the consensus” of the top editors at the paper’s 4 p.m. meeting.

Keller added:

… We realize, of course, that the story du jour is the debt vote — to which we devoted the lead story and upwards of four pages this morning — but there’s no reason that has to eclipse a human catastrophe in Africa.  Readers can follow more than one important story at a time.  Jeffrey (Gettleman, the reporter) and Tyler went to great trouble and some risk to get as close as they could to the calamity in Somalia.  They sent us a harrowing story and vivid, arresting photographs.  We put them before the attention of our readers.  That’s our job.

Over 500 Huffington Post readers commented.  Many praised the Times’ decision — and Tyler’s photo.

One wrote:  “Guess it’s hard for some in their air conditioned rooms eating 3 good meals a day with a nice home to go to to see this reality huh?  Shame on us.”

Another said:  “How horrifically sad to be offended by the sight of a starving child.  Perhaps it is the conscience of those offended that pricks them so hard they cannot stand it.”

The Times’ website includes 15 heart-rending photos by Tyler, including this one:

(Photo/Tyler Hicks for the New York Times)

Click here for a full  — and haunting — slideshow.

Last night, Tyler was interviewed on the CBS Evening News, by anchor Scott Pelley.  Tyler described the dismal situation:

Everywhere in the city there are people streaming in.  Particularly the thing that jumped out at me were the amount of children and how incredibly frail they were.   There are women – every single one is carrying what looks like skin and bones and I honestly — there were moments that I didn’t notice that the child they were carrying was alive until they shifted and you could see that the child was moving.

Click here for the full CBS Evening News video.


22 responses to “Tyler Hicks’ Somalia Photo Stirs Reactions

  1. Thanks for sharing this, Dan. A related article on pg. A6 of yesterday’s Times describes how people are quicker to send aid for the disasters like the Asian Tsunami (2004) and earthquake in Haiti (2010) than they are for these slow-onset emergencies, which are just as devastating. There is a list of organizations accepting donations for relief efforts at nytimes.com/world.

  2. People are more reluctant to send any financial aid to the continent of Africa because for whatever reasons, including an enormously and obviously corrupt ANC, the aid doesn’t get to the intended recipients.

  3. As harsh as this may sound….here is a thought:


  4. Your harshness stems from your ignorance. With no education in these poverty ridden countries, they have no recognition of what you are even talking about.

    • Oh please!

      “With no education in these poverty ridden countries, they have no recognition of what you are even talking about.”

      It doesn’t take an “educated” person to realize that it takes money to buy food to feed a child one gives birth to. These people need to take some personal responsibility.

      Don’t be so ignorant yourself.

      • Visit one of the African countries for a week or two. You will find out what I am talking about. There is often no concept of “money” that you mention. Your simplistic approach to these problems is one reason their assistance is often times misdirected. And believe it or not, it is happening in this country as well.

  5. They can’t afford to feed their children because there is no food available. They have children that perpetuate this horror because they have no access to birth control. Hopefully these heartbreaking photos will encourage people to take action. That babies live like this in the 21st century is outrageous and truly heartbreaking. We don’t know how lucky were are. Or how stupid and arrogant we are by wasting our time arguing about a farm instead of trying to find a way to help these poor little children who don’t even have the strenght to wipe the flies off their faces. Save the Children is an amazing organization headquartered in Westport that makes sure almost all the aid they receive help those for whom it’s intended. Instead of making disparaging remarks about Dan Levinson and villifying GVI, how about donating $25 to Save the Children for the benefit of the children in Somalia.

    • “They can’t afford to feed their children because there is no food available.”

      If you can’t afford food….you can’t afford food.

      If it IS available, and they can’t afford to buy enough to sustain the life of themselves AND their child…….then DON’T HAVE CHILDREN.

      Simple Concept.

      • Such compassion. A sperm lottery child who can’t see beyond his stuck up nose. Volunteer for UNICEF and learn instead of mouthing off about Darwinian nonsense. You should be a poster child for the Republican party.

      • THEY DON’T HAVE BIRTH CONTROL. It’s not that they can’t afford food, THERE IS NO FOOD. Rape is so prevelant, it’s become an unfortunate fact of life resulting in many pregnancies. Compassion would be lovely, action better but in either event, don’t act like these people’s lives are even remotely similar to yours and oops, they have an unplanned pregnancy. These are people in the poorest part of the world where drought, war and rape are facts of life. And sometimes when you spend a little time with them and you see that they can still find things to laugh and sing about, it’s quite humbling and it makes you realize how amazing the human spirit is. So if you don’t want to do anything to help another , fine, but don’t put your middle class values on the rest of the world, and thank god you’re an American.

        • The Dude Abides

          Amen. But we have starving children in this country as well and many homeless. Being American is not necessarily a free pass to prosperity. Unfortunately for those disadvantaged, there are those, like the “Wrecker”, who blame them for their plight.

          • I love you dude and love reading your posts. And I realize being an American isn’t a free pass, but at least we have agencies in place to help our children and our homeless, not enough but some. I lived in NY for years many years ago and there were a bunch of homeless people that lived in the park across the street from me. I used to put food bags together for them, go by the park and give them to them, we’d talk about our day for a bit, etc. Anyway, one day I was walking by the library on Fifth Ave and these two guys knocked me down and ripped my purse off my arm. I was sitting there, stunned, when I saw two other guys race by. They tackled the theives, wrestled my purse away, came up to me, helped me to my feet and gave me back my purse. My heros were two of the homeless men who lived in the park across the street from me. If we all open our eyes and our hearts, goodness and love can come in from places we’d never expect. Sorry for this long reply, I’m just so honored that the Dude commented on my post!!

            • The Dude Abides

              Thanks for sharing. I tend to be an isolationist: The ole FDR doctrine of getting this nation in order before we go telling others what to do. But these photos were too much. Had to send off a check so I could sleep. Very alarming photos and do not understand the Wrecker’s response. Your story is a testimonial that good deeds don’t get punished.

              • Sending a check is understandable, but I would temper your expectations. The problem is not a lack of food, food supplies are ample, just not available in this case because of a dysfunctional political system. Sending more food and more money makes us feel good, but does little to alleviate the horror. In the US, as RFK observed, there is no need for people to go hungry; we have in place taxpayer funded programs that will feed every needy Americans, but they must have access to and knowledge of the programs. Outreach and education may alleviate much of the hunger in the US. As to the birth control issue, as a well know college professor of mine used to say; “The most effective form of birth control is an aspirin tablet grasped fimly between the knees.”

                • The Dude Abides

                  Indeed, valid point. And as Wrecker above illustrates, ignorance is not limited to the poor. While I have seen individuals in the South unaware of programs that might help them and/or food that will eventually kill them because of certain illnesses, there is a growing suspicion where our money is actually going? Especially overseas. Sad but my check, however limited, did allow me to sleep well last night. I hope you noted my comment on the Professor’s pictorial of Westport. It was a Picasso stroke of beauty.

                  • Yes, Westport certainly looks nice. I don’t think Wrecker is ignorant; his judgements may seem harsh, but I don’t think he is ignorant. He may have chosen the wrong context in which he applied his argument.

  6. There is no problem so bad that whining about it won’t make it worse.

  7. Save the Childrens efforts in this area of Africa are enormously futile until the very corrupt Continental African Elite is replaced. Africa itself has more money and other commodities by which to take care of it’s own populations than Save the Children offers.

  8. Wrecker, you are daft. Quite obviously, you have never been to the region and you have no real idea of what you’re gassing. A simple view of a hugely complex problem.You make yourself look stupid.

    • It is hard to fault the argument that if there were fewer children, there would be fewer children starving. As to your assertion that this is a “hugely complex problem” this is the sort of sophistry that has accompanied every foreign policy misadventure in the last 100 years. It is not hugely complex, it is quite simple; people are starving because others are causing them to starve. Now, what are you prepared to do to change that situation? Wringing hands and writing checks, as well intentioned as those actions might be, won’t cut it.

  9. “Sophistry.” yawn. I do more and have done more than I need to report back to you. You are probably one of those fools that kneel to the idea of “the free market.” Give it a rest, will you?

  10. Gentlemen…..please…… no more “you” statements. Let’s share ideas without insulting each other.