UN official: Millions of Somalis risk starvation

The situation in Somalia is growing more desperate by the day. A famine has put millions at risk of starving. And when a U.N. food shipment arrived Friday in Mogadishu, a gunfight broke out. At least seven people were killed.

Hundreds of Somalis have fled across the border to Kenya, in a desperate search for food. The region is suffering through its worst drought in 60 years and rebel groups are preventing aid from reaching the people who need it.

Earlier, CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley spoke with William Spindler, a spokesman for the U.N.'s Dadaab refugee camp. A transcript follows:

Pelley: William, I understand the refugee camp at Dadaab was built for 90,000 refugees. How many do you have there now?

Spindler: Well at the moment, there are over 400,000 -- more than four times the number for which it was built, and that number increases every day because some 1,500 tired, frightened, exhausted refugees arrive every day from Somalia.

Pelley: What is that trip like for them coming from Somalia to the refugee camp there in Kenya?

Spindler: We have heard horrific stories from refugees. We have heard stories of women being attacked and raped by militiamen and bandits. We have heard stories of children dying on the way and being left behind because they are too weak to walk. So really, really dramatic, terrible stories of human suffering.

Pelley: How many people if it's possible to say would you reckon are in danger of starvation at this point?

Spindler: Millions of people inside Somalia are at risk of starvation and we estimate that already tens of thousands have died of hunger. The situation in Somalia is extremely difficult. The UN refugee agency -- UNHCR -- will start a humanitarian airlift of urgently needed supplies into Mogadishu next Monday.

Pelley: William Spindler of the UN High Commission for Refugees, thank you very much.

Spindler: Thank you.

  • Scott Pelley

    Correspondent, "60 Minutes"