August 8th, 2011
04:27 PM ET

Cooper: 'This famine was preventable'

Perhaps you think you’ve seen it, heard it all before. Hunger in the Horn of Africa. Famine once again spreading in Somalia. It is an old headline, I suppose, it certainly has happened before, but that doesn’t lessen the horror of it: the sickening stench of a hospital room filled with dying children; the shock of seeing row after row of tiny, freshly dug graves.

It is hard to know what to say. There are statistics of course. An estimated 29,000 children under the age of five dead in the last three months. 3.2 million people in Somalia in need of immediate, life saving assistance. Well over two million Somalis have had to flee their homes to the capital Mogadishu or to neighboring countries. The numbers are numbing.

I am in Dadaab in Kenya, near the border of Somalia. There’s a network of refugee settlements here, in fact it’s now the largest refugee camp in the world. It was built twenty years ago to hold ninety thousand people, but there are now more than 400,000 here, and tens of thousands more camping in makeshift huts on the outskirts. What’s infuriating is that there is a camp that was built in 2010 that can house 80,000 more refugees, but the Kenyan government won’t allow it to open.


Filed under: Anderson Cooper
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