Nightly News | August 05, 2011
LESTER HOLT, anchor: And there was more heartbreaking news tonight from the Horn of Africa , where children and families are suffering through the worst drought and famine in decades. Today, trucks loaded with desperately needed food were looted in the capital of Mogadishu in a fight that turned deadly. And the situation at the only children's hospital in the capital is dire, as we hear tonight from chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel . And we want to caution you that the images in his report are disturbing.
RICHARD ENGEL reporting: It may be safer now not to come to Mogadishu 's Banadir Hospital . Amid the famine and war, disease is spreading. They already suffer malnutrition, now there's a cholera outbreak Banadir Hospital . Fadima 's two children are wasting away.
ENGEL: 'I came because my kids have diarrhea,' she said. 'I think it's from the hunger.' The patients are given IV drips but they can't hold the fluids. This is where new arrivals come at the only hospital for children in Mogadishu . There's no running water, no electricity, no operating room or toilets even, yet people still come here looking for medical help. Eleven days ago, Halima arrived at this hospital, after traveling 120 miles to get here. She survived the journey, looking strong, taking care of her children. But the green and yellow dress she wore then today wrapped her body. She contracted cholera in the hospital. She died last night. But what may be most tragic of all, the famine here is largely man-made. Somalia is a failed state and a war zone . Peacekeepers from Uganda and Burundi are fighting to drive out al-Qaeda backed militants called al-Shabaab . The militants control half the country. We visited the peacekeepers' front line positions, where gunfire is so regular, the commanders hardly notice it anymore. Where are the Shabaab right now?
Unidentified Man: OK. The Shabaab is 50 meters.
ENGEL: Fifty meters behind this building.
Man: Yes. Yes. It's on -- we should get down. Sorry for this...
ENGEL: Yeah, so there's some incoming rounds.
Man: Sorry. No problem.
ENGEL: There are only 9,000 African peacekeepers here. They're poorly equipped. They can't stop al-Shabaab , let alone the famine. Mogadishu on the Indian Ocean was already on the edge of disaster. The drought just pushed it over. Richard Engel , NBC News, Mogadishu .