Video: Cholera epidemic sweeps across Somalia
Transcript of: Cholera epidemic sweeps across Somalia
DAVID GREGORY, co-host: Now to the famine crisis raging in the Horn of Africa . A cholera epidemic is sweeping through Somalia , making the situation there even more severe. Ann is in the capital of Mogadishu this morning. We should warn you, some of the images she has seen there that she is reporting on have been disturbing. Ann , good morning.
ANN CURRY reporting: David , that's right. Good morning. In this famine of biblical proportions, in which 11 million people are at risk here in Somalia and four other African nations , now comes an epidemic of cholera. It is spread through dirty water, and so far at least 180 people have died from it and, once again, children are the most vulnerable. 'To talk about it is so hard,' Zeinab Ibrahim tells us about losing a child to both cholera and hunger.
Ms. ZEINAB IBRAHIM:
CURRY: 'My son was my world,' she says. 'Even at eight, he helped me with the younger children. I am destroyed.' Her husband, Abdi , a farmer before the famine...
CURRY: ...says, 'It is difficult to talk about the future. All we can think about is food,' and their two-year-old son, who is sick somewhere in this overwhelmed hospital, where a growing number of children are dying of hunger and now disease. One-year-old Fatima is barely holding on.
CURRY: Human disaster the US estimates has already killed some 30,000 children in the last three months. This young boy died Sunday, his family carrying him home for burial. This is your child.
CURRY: With more than 640,000 children still in jeopardy, the world is struggling to keep up with the need. This UNICEF plane landed in Mogadishu this morning and the first Western aide workers are beginning to arrive, including Mercy Corps ' Cassandra Nelson .
Ms. CASSANDRA NELSON: Key things certainly are getting people access to food and hope that the security remains good and that we can continue the work here, because that's what really matters.
CURRY: But rarely has a humanitarian effort been so dangerous. Even feeding centers have been targeted by suicide bombers in Mogadishu . African Union peacekeepers pushed back Islamic militants call al-Shabaab just days ago. And this weekend the prime minister called for a military force just to protect food convoys. As humanitarians prioritize the hungry, women and young children first...
CURRY: ...this 23-year-old Somali aide worker is saying, 'I would appeal to both Christians and Muslims to help these people. They are innocent.' Even seasoned aide workers can be overwhelmed. The World Food Programme 's Susannah Nicol. How do you come out of that without -- come out of looking at that without just wanting to cry?
Ms. SUSANNAH NICOL: I don't. I don't.
CURRY: But today there is a little hope. Zeinab and Abdi , who lost one son to cholera, returned to Mogadishu 's central hospital to find their two-year-old getting better. He weighed just six pounds when they brought him in, but now doctors say he will survive. And a Human Rights Watch report out today says people are at the greatest risk in areas outside this city because of al-Shabaab militants still controlling those areas. Of course, al-Shabaab militants have been linked to al-Qaeda . Humanitarians can't even reach most of those areas, so we don't even really know just how bad the situation is there. But despite the pockets of fighting, here in Mogadishu we can tell you that many aid agencies, including the International Red Cross , Doctors Without Borders and the World Food Programme , among others, is reaching people in need here. David :
GREGORY: Ann , such a tough story to see. Thank you very much . I know you're going to have more from the crisis zone there tomorrow.