Stark images of misery in Somalia spark action

A drought in the Horn of Africa has destroyed crops for more than a year. Refugees are pouring out of Somalia, the failed, lawless state. Lucky ones reach refugee camps just over the border in Kenya. Already there are 450,000 thousand people jammed in one those camps that was designed for 90,000.

In all, right now, 12 million people are at risk of starvation.

Some remarkable pictures have been coming in from the growing humanitarian disaster in East Africa.

Horn of Africa famine: How to help
Somalia refugees: No food to break Ramadan fast
Obama says Somalia deserves more attention

New York Times photojournalist Tyler Hicks recently returned from Somalia with pictures of the starving. CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley talked to Tyler Hicks on Tuesday about his trip and what he saw there.

Tyler Hicks' New York Times photo essay on Somalia

Pelley: Tyler, your pictures of course are all about individuals, but I'm curious about what we can't see. Can you give us an idea of how many people are affected this way?

Hicks: It's not a place that you have to look very far. Everywhere in the city there are people streaming in. Particularly the thing that jumped out at me were the amount of children and how incredibly frail they were. There are women - every single one is carrying what looks like skin and bones and I honestly - there were moments that I didn't notice that the child they were carrying was alive until they shifted and you could see that the child was moving.

Pelley: In terms of the people that are truly starving that we see in your photos are we talking about dozens, hundreds, thousands?

Hicks: Thousands, many thousands of people, and the fact that they're coming into Mogadishu, one of the most unsafe cities in the entire world, says a lot about the condition of what they're experiencing in their villages and how desperate they have to be.

Misery in Somalia
Tyler Hicks/NY Times
Pelley: One of your photos (at left) is particularly striking. It's a photograph of a child lying in a fetal position clearly starving to death. I wonder if you could tell us the story of that picture.

Hicks: This particular child really struck me, how skinny this child was and the position of how the child was laying on the table was really striking and I thought it got the point across of how desperate it is there.

Pelley: You were in Mogadishu for four days. I wonder in the time you were there, any signs of improvement, any hopeful signs?

Hicks: Not at all. If anything, it appears that this would probably get worse before it gets better. They're arriving literally with nothing, and it's a very desperate situation for them.

  • Scott Pelley

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

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