Migrate, revolt or die: A Somali's only choices

The plight of those trying to survive in the drought-hit Horn of Africa is far out-stripping the ability of anyone to help.

CBS News correspondent Tony Guida reports that the U.N.'s chief refugee official said today the crisis in Somalia is the "worst humanitarian disaster" in the world. To give an idea of the scale, he was visiting a refugee camp the size of Cleveland.

In one child's eyes, it is easy to see that he knows something you and I will never know: How it feels to be desperately hungry.

There are many children like him in one hospital in Mogadishu. They are malnourished children, some close to death, all refugees from the drought and violence destroying Somalia.

"If you are a hungry person, someone once told me you feel as if bleach is in your belly it hurts so much," says Bettina Luescher with the World Food Programme.

The World Food Programme will feed 6 million people in the Horn of Africa this year, but that's not nearly enough.

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Kenya police tear gas hunger crisis activists
Throngs of Somali refugee kids dying in exodus

"We are in the middle of a perfect storm," Luescher says.

The Horn of Africa is choking on the dust of the worst drought in 60 years. Combine that with the massacres by Islamic militants in Southern Somalia, and rocketing food prices across the region, and the U.N. says some places are close to famine.

"All of this together has created a huge and urgent humanitarian crisis," Luescher says.

Thousands are fleeing in search of food and water.

Maryann Abdullah abandoned Somalia with her 6 children. Their cattle died and they had no food. A grueling 7-day trek brought them to this refugee camp in Kenya.

The U.N. estimates a thousand Somalis arrive here every day.

"We have the poorest of the poor and the most vulnerable of the vulnerable in the world," says U.N. High Commissioner Antonio Guterres.

Like other aid organizations, the World Food Programme has suffered cutbacks in government and private contributions.

It needs $200 million just to meet this year's needs in the Horn of Africa.

"When people go hungry they've got 3 options: They can migrate, they can revolt or they can die," Luescher says.

In the Horn of Africa, they're doing all three.

  • Tony Guida

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