Somalis in refugee camps face new threat

NEW YORK - The situation in Somalia grows more dire by the day. The British government now says 400,000 children are at risk of starving.

CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley spoke with Cassandra Nelson of Mercy Corps. Nelson is in Kenya, after visiting refugee camps in Mogadishu. She warns of a new threat - the outbreak of disease.

Mercy Corps

Nelson: The living conditions have, are just absolutely terrible for these people. They don't have access to clean water. They don't have access to any kind of sanitation facilities or toilets. What that has created is an absolute health crisis. I was in the hospitals and I saw them completely overrun and in the 45 minute period I was there I saw three children die that had cholera. So that is a huge crisis.

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The other thing we are really concerned about is measles. The conditions in the camps - because it's so crowded - is a huge incubator for measles because it's such a contagious and infectious disease. The situation to be honest in the hospitals isn't much better. What you'll find in a ward is these children lying on these tables all getting IVs - they're also not being separated from children who have measles or other diseases, cholera, and so the disease is so easily transferred from one child to the next.

Pelley: You sent us some photographs. Could you describe what those photographs show?

Nelson: To me, honestly, they show a suffering that I never, never imagined could exist. And I have been a humanitarian aid worker in disasters for almost a decade. My experience there and the pictures and video I was able to take the there are just to me are a picture of tremendous suffering and yet the people are so dignified and so resilient. It's amazing. When I would speak to parents whose children were visibly dying in the hospital and they had the most grace and poise under circumstances that I don't think anyone can even begin to imagine.

  • Scott Pelley

    Anchor and Managing Editor, "CBS Evening News;" Correspondent, "60 Minutes"