"Huge strain" on crowded Somalia refugee camps

The International Red Cross is asking for $86 million in donations to help feed the people of Somalia

Somalia, a country facing war and drought, lies at the heart of a growing humanitarian disaster along the Horn of Africa.

Pictures: Faces of famine

On Thursday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called on the militant organization Al-Shabaab, which controls much of the southern section of Somalia, to offer Western aid workers "unfettered access" to more than three million famine victims.

Many Somalis, starving and searching for safety, are risking their lives, crossing into Kenya and taking up residence in Dadaab, the world's largest refugee camp with 420,000 people. Its official capacity is 90,000.

On "The Early Show" Friday, William Spindler, of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, said from Dadaab that 1,500 people arrive each day at the border between Kenya and Somalia, seeking help.

"The numbers just keep growing," he said. "... They arrive in a very bad state. They are hungry, they are malnourished, they are frightened, and they are tired, and this has put a huge strain on our capacity to respond to this huge emergency."

"Early Show" co-anchor Erica Hill asked how things have changed in Somalia since the 1993 "Black Hawk Down" violence, which started as a humanitarian mission.

Spindler explained, "Inside Somalia, the different aid agencies are operating, but we operate under extremely difficult conditions, because of the insecurity. And our capacity to do good and to save human lives is very limited. We cannot go to some areas because we ourselves would be in danger. But in other areas where we can operate, where our staff is not targeted, and where we can be assured that the help is going to be given to the victims and is not going to be used for the militias, in those areas, we can operate. But we operate under very difficult conditions inside Somalia, but at the same time, hundreds of thousands of Somali refugees are fleeing Somalia, because of a conflict, and now, because of the famine, and coming to countries like Kenya, but also to other countries in the region."

Next week, "The Early Show" will be in Dabaab. Comprehensive coverage of the famine in Africa will begin on Monday morning.

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