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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Humanitarian Crises in Africa; New Revelations in Congressional Page Scandal
Aired October 3, 2006 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: We are covering two major humanitarian crisis going on in Africa. The one you know about in Darfur and the one you don't, what is happening here in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Africa's third largest country, a country whose future is literally hanging in the balance. Misery here is as vast as this country's natural resources. It's almost impossible to overstate the level of suffering here, war, disease, malnutrition, torture, widespread rapes, nearly 4 million people have died in the past eight years alone. Coming up we'll show you the killing fields up close. But first, John Roberts is in New York with a stunning new development in the scandal shaking Washington and the Republican Party. John?
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Anderson thanks. It's a major bombshell even by Washington standards. Just hours ago the attorney for former Congressman Mark Foley held a news conference and revealed that his client is gay and was molested by a clergyman when he was a teenager. All the angles tonight, starting with some antics. Foley's lawyer also said his client who resigned from office last week, denies he ever had sex with a minor. But today "ABC News" released what it says is evidence that the congressman engaged in cybersex with a teenage page. We'll sort through that coming up.
With just five weeks now until the November elections, Democrats are making the most of this mess. The bombshell is their potential blessing. We'll talk it over with our political round table. And the blame game was under way even before tonight's developments. It comes down to who in the Republican leadership knew what and when. Some people are calling for House Speaker Dennis Hastert to resign. A lot of ground to cover tonight and we begin with CNN's Joe Johns.
JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Since he resigned last week following accusations that he sent sexually explicit messages to teenage boys, Mark Foley hasn't spoken publicly but his lawyer is speaking.
DAVID ROTH, ATTY. FOR MARK FOLEY: Mark Foley wants you to know that he is a gay man.
JOHNS: That was just the tip of the iceberg at a news conference full of surprises about the Republican's private life, both past and present. ROTH: Mark does not blame the trauma he sustained as a young adolescent for his totally inappropriate e-mails and IM's. Mark has asked that you be told that between the ages of 13 and 15 he was molested by a clergyman.
JOHNS: His attorney says Foley insists he never actually had any sexually inappropriate contact with minors. But today "ABC News" says Foley allegedly engaged in cybersex with a teenage boy who had previously worked as a congressional page, just moments before Foley voted on the House floor. According to "ABC", Foley said, ok, I better go vote... did you know you would have this effect on me. Laughing out loud I guessed. You go vote, I don't want to keep you from doing your job. In a separate exchange, "ABC News" reported Foley suggested getting together with the underage former page for drinks, saying, we may need to drink at my house so we don't get busted. CNN has not independently confirmed the online conversations. This scandal continues to rock the capitol in just weeks before the midterm elections. Tonight the big questions are, who knew what and when did they know it. Much of the focus has been on this man Dennis Hastert. The Speaker insisted he first learned of the alleged explicit nature of the electronic messages only Friday.
The conservative "Washington Times" newspaper in its editorial today said, "Either he was grossly negligent for not taking the red flags fully into account and ordering a swift investigation or he deliberately looked the other way in hopes that a brewing scandal would simply blow away." Today on a radio show Hastert defended his actions.
REP. DENNIS HASTERT, HOUSE SPEAKER: There were others that had this information. Didn't come forward with it. I've asked for investigations both on the whole process. I've asked for Foley to be investigated, I've asked for investigations on who had this information because anybody that had it for one day and didn't come forward with it put kids in jeopardy.
JOHNS: But the number two Republican in the House, Majority Leader John Boehner suggested that the buck stopped with Hastert and later wrote a letter to "The Washington Times" newspaper expressing support for Hastert.
REP. JOHN BOEHNER, MAJORITY LEADER: I believe I talked to the Speaker and he told me it had been taken care of. And in my position, it's in his corner. It's his responsibility. The Clerk of the House who runs the page program, the Page Board, all report to the Speaker and I believed that it had been dealt with.
(END OF VIDEOTAPE)
ROBERTS: This is the kind of October surprise that no party welcomes with just weeks to go before the midterm election. It's left Republicans scrambling to explain how Foley's alleged misconduct went unchecked. Joining me now is CNN's Joe John's, Candy Crowley and Dana Bash, all part of the best political team in the business. Joe Johns, let's start with you. These disclosures from Congressman Foley's attorney about alcoholism, clergy abuse, is this an attempt to curry some sympathy with voters and take the heat off of the Republican Party. I mean this is certainly not the stuff that you hear a candidate coming out talking about when they are running for election.
JOHNS: No, it sounds more like it's a lawyer doing his job trying to essentially humanize his client in advance of any possible legal action. It doesn't sound like it has a whole lot to do quite frankly with the idea of an election because of course Mr. Foley has now stepped down from his seat. But an attorney would get out there, he would try to say things, especially in a media storm like this, in the event there's any action from the Justice Department, the FBI or anybody else who wants to prosecute. John?
ROBERTS: Dana Bash, tell us a little bit about the atmospherics here. What are Republicans saying? What are they doing? What are they hearing from constituents out there in the districts?
DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What they're hearing out there in the districts is a lot. I talked to several Republican congressmen who were out with their constituents, out with much more importantly potential voters right now and they say, look, this is what they're hearing about. Nothing else right now. They're getting questions not only about Foley's conduct but of course what the Republican leadership's role was, whether they acted properly or not. And I didn't talk to any Republican today who said this is not a huge, huge problem for them. Bottom line is because they say Iraq has obviously been an issue but it's more of an abstraction. This is about people, this is about parents, this is about their kids. Everyone gets that.
ROBERTS: Candy Crowley, what's your feeling? Is House Speaker Dennis Hastert going to survive this? President Bush earlier today seemed supportive but tonight in a gaggle with the press, just a little on the record off camera briefing, one of his deputy press secretaries said well the president wants to wait until an investigation is complete into this. He wants to see where that goes first before he really talks about how much support he's got for Dennis Hastert.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well you know first I think it's sort of -- you know George Bush, John and you know that his sort of first instinct is loyalty. He demands it and he gives it. So it seemed to me that first statement with that full throated support for Hastert was very sort of classic George Bush. I think there's also some political realism to this and it seems to me that "The Washington Times", a conservative newspaper that this morning called for Hastert to step down, sort of crystallized for Republicans what their choices were here. And the sense I got today from talking to people was basically what Hastert has been arguing which is, hey, you know, I stepped down and you have just got a story that blows up and really helps the Democrats. You can see those ads already. They even got rid of their Republican leader because his leadership was so bad. So they're stuck to a certain extent but to let Hastert go now they think would only add to their problems.
ROBERTS: Joe Johns, Republicans are trying to make this now all the Democrats' fault saying, they sandbagged us here, they had these emails, they waited until we couldn't get Mark Foley's name off of the ballot and then they released all of this in an October surprise, is that dog going to hunt?
JOHNS: You know there's a real problem with that quite frankly because we have sort of been asking questions behind the scenes about that. And at least one of the organizations -- the organization we know about in Washington, Citizens for Responsible Ethics, they say that they got some of this information and they passed it along to authorities. Passed it along for example to the FBI and now sort of the question is why wasn't there more of an investigation? A lot of people suggest of course that when you just look at what was first out there it was really sort of innocuous and perhaps some people could describe it as over friendly. But it's not clear at all, at least to me, and I've been making those telephone calls that there really was an attempt by any Democrat sitting in office somewhere in Washington, D.C. to try to hold onto this until the country started focusing on the elections. Still some Republicans are making that charge and maybe we'll see some more information come out at some later time.
ROBERTS: Dana Bash, what's the feeling among rank and file Republican members of Congress here, do they think that the leadership is doing enough on this issue to fight back or do they need to do more?
BASH: Definitely I think the answer is they think they need to do more but the big question is what do they do? What you saw today is Denny Hastert try to lead by example, try to sort of be the voice, the message, that he wants the rank and file to follow which is don't think about me. Don't turn your fire against me. Focus on the Democrats because remember, they're trying to take us down here. And this is all part of that same strategy. By the way, remember, if you let this thing spin out of control, Democrats are going to take back control of Congress and they're going to raise your taxes and grow the government. So that's the message Hastert is trying to give but whether or not that's actually going to fly, unclear. They definitely want -- rank and file want much more of a clear cognizant message here.
ROBERTS: Big problems too when many conservative groups are the ones who are screaming the loudest.
ROBERTS: We're going to come back to you next hour folks. So thanks very much. We'll see you very soon. And Anderson let's go back to you in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
COOPER: John thanks very much. Coming up an inside look at the corruption that has lead to the violence here in the Congo, a country's history stained by death and blood. How it got this bad. Plus, a rebel leader who's wanted for war crimes, there's a warrant out for his arrest. We found the general, interviewed him, so why hasn't the government here caught up with him. What the general told us about his plans for the Congo. Stay tuned.
ANNOUNCER: It's happening so far away but it affects all of us. There in plain sight, tremendous suffering, millions dead, the numbers unthinkable but not when you're there. There is no hope, only fear. From the killers to the camps to the desperation in a young child's eyes. This is a special edition of ANDERSON COOPER 360, THE KILLING FIELDS, AFRICA'S MISERY, THE WORLD'S SHAME.
COOPER: And thanks for joining us. We are in Goma on the far eastern edge of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a county that literally sits near the heart of Africa. Congo shares borders with nine other countries. Its natural wealth includes diamonds, golds and minerals. The wealth is unmatched in Africa, but it is also a country of epic misery, where 70 percent of households are malnourished, two- thirds of people here have absolutely no access to health care. For decades Congo has been a killing field. Take a look.
COOPER (voice-over): Nearly 4 million people have died from war related causes in Congo in the past eight years alone according to the International Rescue Committee. Many, many times more deaths than in Iraq and Afghanistan combined. The world's deadliest conflict since World War II. It's the continuation of violence that has raged for more than a century here. Congo expert Didier Gondola explains why.
DIDIER GONDOLA, AUTHOR, "THE HISTORY OF CONGO": A short answer would be that Congo has been cursed by its natural resources and that's why one of the reasons why so much violence has taken place in that country.
COOPER: King Leopold II of Belgian was the first to exploit the rich resources, taking the Congo as his personal possession and leveling the land to cultivate rubber used to make tires. In the late 1800s Leopold's forces enslaved the Congolese people, cutting off limbs to enforce rubber quotas. Millions died of exploitation and disease. Protests prompted the Belgian government to take control from Leopold in 1908, turning Congo into a Belgian colony. But the Congolese rejected colonial status and violent riots in 1960 led to Congo's independence. The fledgling country though got off to a rocky start. Within months the first elected prime minister was assassinated. After years of rebellions, U.S. backed General Mobutu Sese Seko seized power in 1965, renaming the country Zaire.
GONDOLA: He was quite a corrupt leader. At one point Mobutu had his personal fortune was equivalent of the national debt of the country.
COOPER: His reign of corruption would last three decades, spawning the term kleptocracy, rule by thieves. Toward the end of his reign, violence once again rocked this country, as decade's old conflict between the rival Hutu and Tootsie ethnic groups spilled over from neighboring Rwanda. Rwanda and Uganda invaded Congo in 1996 under the pretext of stamping out Hutu militias. As the army's advance, slaughtering Hutu refugees, Mobutu fled. The invaders made a local rebel leader and brothel owner Laurent Kabila president in 1997. Kabila renamed the country the Democratic Republic of the Congo. One year later, Uganda and Rwanda invaded again, in what became known as Africa's first world war. At least eight other African nations joined in the fighting. Kabila was gunned down by his own bodyguard five years ago. His 29 year old son Joseph took over as president and the next year signed a peace deal with warring factions.
Now there are more than 17,000 United Nations troops in Congo trying to keep that peace and the United States provides aid through relief agencies. Thirty nine million dollars was budgeted this year. But still the deaths continue. Corrupt military units and rebel factions still terrorize, rape and murder the Congolese people. The United Nations estimates more than 1,200 people die a day from malnutrition and disease, which is why it has been said that in Congo this peace looks an awful lot like war.
(END OF VIDEOTAPE)
COOPER: Some sobering facts on life and death here in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Here's the raw data. Congo has a population of nearly 63 million people. For men though the life expectancy is 42 years. For women it is 47. Imagine that when you're in your mid 20s your life is already half over. At least 1.1 million people here have AIDS or HIV and there are some 600,000 AIDS orphans. We'll have a lot more from here in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but let's go back to John Roberts in New York.
ROBERTS: Thanks Anderson. And now a 360 news and business bulletin. More details are being released about the man who killed five Amish school girls before taking his own life in rural Pennsylvania yesterday. Investigators say Charles Carl Roberts told his wife shortly before the shooting that he had molested two young relatives when he was 12 years old. Roberts also said he had dreams of molesting again. Police say they believe Roberts planned to sexually assault the girls before killing them but they say there is no evidence that any assaults took place.
A record day on Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at an all-time high of 11,727. The blue chips gained 56 points. The NASDAQ climbed six. The S&P added two points. But not all is rosy. According to a new report by an outplacement firm, the U.S. labor market showed signs of weakness last month that says more than 100,000 people were laid off in September. That's up more than 40 percent from last year. So we had some great news today on Wall Street with that new record but still some lingering softness in the economy. Anderson, back to you.
COOPER: John, thanks very much. Here in the Congo the war is finished. It ended in 2003 but some are refusing to give up their weapons. There's a rebel leader who is wanted, an arrest warrant has been issued out for him. The thing is, everyone knows where he lives. In fact, I got a chance to talk to him myself. That is coming up.
Plus, the challenging and dangerous effort to get aid to refugees along the border of Chad and Darfur. See what 360 MD Sanjay Gupta faced when he tried to make the trip with relief workers when this special edition of 360 continues. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SR. MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: It is often very difficult to get to some of these refugee camps. Case in point, I'm standing on top of a car, and a car that has now been stuck in a river bed.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: A wanted rebel leader accused of war crimes and the thing is, he's easy to find. My interview with a general who no one seems willing to arrest. 360 next.
COOPER: One of the biggest problems here in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is that many soldiers, police and other government leaders have a sense of impunity. There's really no responsibility or repercussions for bad behavior. Now it's common for soldiers to lewd and to rape women and yet rarely if ever are they apprehended or punished for that kind of behavior. The U.N. is now here. They have the largest peace keeping operation in U.N. history. The war has ended but still some rebel leaders out there, some militia leaders are refusing to give up their weapons. One of them is a general named Laurent Nkunda, he's a wanted man, there's an arrest warrant out for him. But no one seems so far willing to arrest him even though we were very able to find him very quickly. Take a look.
COOPER (voice-over): In a rain soaked valley in eastern Congo, a rebel army sings of war. They may appear a motley bunch. Some have no shoes. Others mismatched uniforms, but they do have weapons and the power to disrupt the Congo's fragile peace. Their leader agreed to meet with us but to find him we had to travel to his remote hill top hideout. We're on our way to see General Lauren Nkunda he's a rebel commander with several thousand troops. So far he's been unwilling to give up his weapons.
(on camera): He's been accused of a host of war crimes and human rights violations. His troops are known to have looted villages, raped women, he's been accused of ordering the summary executions of dozens of prisoners. The Congolese government issued an international arrest warrant for him, but so far it seems no one has been able or willing to apprehend him.
(voice-over): General Nkunda controls about 1200 square miles in eastern Congo, an area roughly the size of Rhode Island. Getting to him, however, isn't easy. Checkpoints are everywhere and his soldiers are wary. That's Jason Stearns, he's a Congo expert with the International Crisis Group, a nonprofit organization which monitors conflicts around the world. The soldiers get in one of our vehicles to show us the way. At General Nkunda compound security is tight, his soldiers are heavily armed. What is your plan? GENERAL LAURENT NKUNDA, REBEL LEADER: Our plan is that if the election conducted, we'll talk with the one who will win the election. If they will be (INAUDIBLE), we will be an alternative to protect the people and to relieve the situation.
COOPER: There have been allegations that you have committed war crimes, violated human rights, is that true?
NKUNDA: In this area or out of this area?
COOPER: Out of this area. They say that in Kisangani in 2002 that you ordered the execution of 160 people. Is that true?
NKUNDA: Not true.
COOPER: They say that in 2004 there are allegations that in Bukavu your soldiers looted widespread, committed many rapes, in fact human rights watch sights an instance of a woman being raped in front of her husband and her children and one of your soldiers they say raped a 3-year-old child.
NKUNDA: No, before I been in Bukavu.
COOPER: So this stuff happened before you got here?
NKUNDA: Before I got --
COOPER (voice-over): Despite his denials, abuses by General Nkunda's soldiers are well documented. Jason Stearns was in the town of Bukavu when the general's soldiers took over. What did you see?
JASON STEARNS, CONGO EXPERT, INTL. CRISIS GROUP: Well, you see -- you're walking through the neighborhoods at night you hear people screaming left and right as soldiers breaking into houses pillaging. Personal friends of mine, close to mine, had their children raped, their people killed.
COOPER: They were raping children?
STEARNS: They were raping children, his troops were.
COOPER: Aid workers believe hundreds of thousands have been victimized by soldiers from various armies and rebel groups. While General Nkunda talks of reconciliation, his army continues to train for war. His officers get refresher courses in military tactics, like how to conduct an ambush. The U.N. is trying to get all of these militia groups to join a new national army, trying to get Congolese to think beyond their ethnic or tribal identity. General Nkunda however wants his troops loyal to him. He is one of the Congo's last remaining warlords, waiting for elections, positioning himself for whatever the future may bring.
(END OF VIDEOTAPE)
COOPER: And the question is why hasn't he been arrested? The Congolese authorities know where he is, so do the U.N. peacekeepers who are here. But that is one of the confusing things about Congolese politics. There are alliances and sub alliances, it is very hard to tell exactly what's going on, what people say is often very different than the reality of what is happening on the ground. There are many forms of suffering here in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Tens of thousands of women have been raped by gangs of soldiers and other predators over the years. Some even say hundreds of thousands. Can anyone stop the rapes? Does anyone care? Plus, 360 MD Sanjay Gupta shows us the trouble facing aid workers as they try to get relief supplies to those along the Sudan Chad border.
COOPER: Welcome back. We're coming to you live from the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the heart of Central Africa, a country that has suffered some three to four million deaths in the last eight or so years as a result of war, malnutrition and -- and disease.
There's very little access to medical care in this country. One of the hallmarks of the fighting here in the Congo has been rape, a hideous weapon that militias and even government soldiers have used with impunity.
Tens of thousands of Congolese women, maybe even more, maybe even hundreds of thousands, according to aide workers, have been raped by gangs of soldiers. Many of the rapes are gang rapes, multiple assailants. Many of the victims later develop AIDS.
HIV rates in the armies are 20 percent or higher in some parts of Africa and in Congo. Most crimes, including the rapes, have no consequences except, of course, for the victims.
CNN's Jeff Koinange reports.
JEFF KOINANGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They sing to comfort each other and to find strength. These mothers and daughters, grandmothers and granddaughters, have all been raped again and again by men in uniform.
The crimes are not isolated incidents. Twenty-one-year-old Cesi (ph) was attacked by 15 men wearing uniforms of the Congolese army. She says they raped her for eight days and eight nights. She was brought here on a stretcher. Now she needs a cane to walk.
"They can take away my womanhood," she says, "but they will never be able to break my spirit."
The stories get even worse. Twenty-eight-year-old Henriette Norta (ph) says three years ago she was gang raped while her husband and four children were forced to watch. The soldiers then disemboweled her husband and continued raping her and her two oldest daughters, ages 8 and 10. This went on for three days, she says. "I wish they could have killed me right there along with my husband," she says. "What use am I now? Why did those animals leave me to suffer like this?"
Officials here say this past year there were more than 4,000 reported rape cases in this one province of the eastern Congo alone. An average of 12 women arrive here at the rehab center for treatment every single day.
As part of the peace deal that ended the civil war here more than two years ago, the country's various militias were integrated into the army. The men in uniform now rape at will.
Dr. Dennis Mukweza Mukenga (ph) is the lone physician at this hospital that specializes in victims of sexual violence. In his 23 years practicing in this region, he admits he's never seen such brutality.
"When we hear stories of how some of them have knives thrust into them after being raped," he says, "and how some suffered gun shot wounds after a pistol has been fired between their legs, it's the cruelest and most barbaric thing I have ever seen."
Here in the Democratic Republic of Congo, it's easy to find the victims of rape, but Amnesty International and private donors say there seems to be no effort to find the rapists.
And so the women of this country must try to heal without justice. It makes the words of their song all the more powerful.
"We will never be broken," they sing. "We will never be broken."
COOPER: Jeff Koinange, he joins us now. He is live in Darfur in Southern Sudan.
Jeff, you were reporting here from the Congo. Why do these rapes occur? I mean, it seems as if there's no responsibility. There's no repercussions for illegal activity. There's just a sense of impunity here.
KOINANGE: No doubt about it. You can see where you are now. That is a lawless land full of bandits. A man with a gun has all the power. They can rape at will. They can rape when they can. And it seems like a systematic annihilation of one group over another. That's why it happens.
And women's issues at the end of the day, you well know, rape very low on the scale. So when women complain, who do they complain to? Nobody will attend to these issues, because in the Congo women's issues don't rate at all, Anderson.
COOPER: The U.N. is here in force. They're trying to undertake the largest elections in U.N. history. They have the largest U.N. peace keeping operation under way. Is there any sign, is there any hope on the horizon that rape as a form of fighting, that rape, the widespread rapes here will end any time soon here?
KOINANGE: No hope right now, Anderson. As you well know the country, went through the first election. There was no clear cut winner. There's going to be a second round later on this month. That's what everyone is concentrating on right now.
And I talked to some of the candidates. They said they would try and make this a priority. But you well know talk is cheap in the Congo. And until someone makes a stand and sets an example and makes sure that a soldier is arrested for conducting -- for committing a rape, that's when people will stop. Until that's done, then this will continue almost as routine, Anderson.
COOPER: Jeff, thanks. We appreciate that. We'll talk to you later on in the program. We're covering two major humanitarian crises at once, an unprecedented effort on the part of CNN. Jeff's in Darfur. Dr. Sanjay Gupta has been along the Chad border. And we, of course, here in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
One example, though, of the lack of repercussions for rapes, that general you met, Orun Tecunda (ph), earlier, he was offered a high position in the new Congolese army, despite many of the allegations against him and his forces.
More than 200,000 Sudanese refugees have sought protection in neighboring Chad. Humanitarian aid trucks are packed and heading toward the camps. So what is keeping some of them from getting to those in need? 360 M.D., Dr. Sanjay Gupta is going to show us next on this special edition of 360.
COOPER: Welcome back to "Africa's Killing Fields".
The problems here in the Congo and in Darfur can be called man- made disasters, but nature isn't helping. Getting aid trucks to the more than 200,000 Sudanese refugees in neighboring Chad can sometimes feel like the story of Alice down the rabbit hole. Nothing is what it should be. Roads turn into rivers, and they might as well be oceans for the displaced people waiting on the other side.
Unlike Alice's story, of course, this is no dream. When the aid trucks don't make it to the camps, people go to bed, not just hungry but in many cases starving.
Our Dr. Sanjay Gupta has been traveling with UNICEF workers in Abache (ph), Chad.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Providing aid to refugees along the war-torn Darfur border sometimes means just getting there. That is often much more difficult than it seems, with crossed fingers, landing on dirt runways.
As far as I can tell this is place civilization has forgotten. On this day the transnational highway, yes, this is the best road in Chad, is suddenly flooded.
(on camera) It is the rainy season here in Chad. You can see rivers like this literally popping up out of nowhere, making it very difficult for cars to pass along this road. This is supposed to be a road right here.
Two things happen. One, it is difficult to get supplies into the refugee camps, but it also cuts down some of the violence since we can't get to the refugees.
(voice-over) Today we think we can make it across and continue to the Daza (ph) camp on the Sudan border. We can't. Bad idea.
LAURA PEREZ, UNICEF: During five months of the year here in Chad, there's a rainy season, which means that all the bodies and the rivers get filled with water. It makes it very difficult for us to cross those rivers and get our supplies to the refugee camps and to the other (ph) camps.
GUPTA: As the UNICEF trucks we are in start to sink, we struggle to stay afloat, climbing higher and higher.
(on camera) It is often very difficult to get to some of these refugee camps. Case in point, I'm standing on top of a car, in a car that has now been stuck in a river bed. We have to cross over this -- what used to be road to actually get to some of eastern Chad's most populated refugee camps.
(voice-over) And here is a clear example of the real daily challenges that aid organizations face. Just getting across the road proves impossible. Finally, we give up. Without a clear idea of just how deep the water is, we wade across. It is only chest deep today, but the rainy season is still upon us.
As the water gets high, the refugee camp supplies get low, cut off. Providing aid in a war-torn area sometimes means just getting there.
PEREZ: If we don't preposition materials ahead of that rainy season, materials such as vaccinations and medical equipment and food, it's very hard for us to have access to the population on the other side of the river.
GUPTA: Today we don't even accomplish that.
COOPER: Dr. Sanjay Gupta now is in the Democratic Republic of the Congo further north in a town called Bounier (ph). He joins us now.
Sanjay, can they drop food supplies to refugees when they can't get there over land?
GUPTA: Sometimes they have to do that. That's not very commonly done in terms of choppers. And you remember, a lot of these supplies are actually coming as far away as Copenhagen, for example. So you're landing on dirt runways and towns close to the refugee camps and then driving it in. You saw -- or attempting to drive to the camps, taking clean water or purification tablets.
Food rehydration, lots of different supplies. But as you mentioned, Anderson, if you can't get them there, the refugees will suffer for many days, if not weeks.
COOPER: Sanjay, we're going to have a lot more from you coming up tonight as well as over the next several nights. Appreciate that reporting.
It is not just people, of course, who are suffering here in the Congo. Animals are suffering, as well. We're going to take you to the mountains of the Congo to where some endangered mountain gorillas and lowland gorillas, as well, gorillas with a reputation for being tough guys, are at the mercy of something even tougher. Next on 360.
COOPER: With an estimated 38,000 people dying here every month from malnutrition and disease, humans in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are obvious victims in this war-torn country. But some of the not so obvious victims are the gorillas of Central Africa, the lowland gorillas and the mountain gorillas.
There are several hundred mountain gorillas left, and their lives are threatened. Take a look.
COOPER (voice-over): After years of war and government neglect, nothing is easy in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
To find the last remaining mountain gorillas you have to drive for hours among bumpy dirt roads. Then, guarded by park rangers, hack your way through thick forest.
(on camera) There's only about 700 mountain gorillas left in the entire world, and all of them live in central Africa. They live in two distinct groups. One group of about 320 live in the mountains of Uganda (ph). The others, about 380 of them, live here in the Burungas (ph), a densely forested series of mountains that straddles Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
In Rwanda the mountain gorillas are the country's biggest tourist attraction, bringing in about $2 million a year. But here in the Congo, years of fighting have driven away tourists, and since 1994 more than 100 of these park rangers have been killed.
The gorillas here in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are under threat from all sides. Farmers desperate for land are encroaching on their habitat. So are miners who are exploiting the natural resources of the country. Miners also need food to eat, and so they hunt gorillas. They also set traps, snares for other animals that the gorillas get caught in.
(voice-over) Many gorillas have lost hands to snares. Others have died from subsequent infections or been killed by poachers looking to steal baby gorillas and sell them on the black market.
The park rangers patrol every day, searching for snares set by poachers.
(on camera) These guards protect the gorillas from hunters and poachers, but their salaries aren't being paid by the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The government here can rarely pay anybody's salary. The salaries are picked up by the U.N. and a consortium of private conservation groups. Without these guards it's likely many more gorillas would get killed.
(voice-over) After hiking for more than an hour, the park rangers find a nest where a family of gorillas spent the night. Nearby, they discover food...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These are the bamboo shoots.
COOPER: ... recently eaten by the gorillas.
A few feet away in a small clearing we get our first sight of the mountain gorillas. They're playing together.
(on camera) There's nine gorillas in this group, and every gorilla group is headed by an adult male. The silverback -- that's the silverback right over there. That's the distinctive coloring on his back. A fully grown silverback can weigh about 500 pounds.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His name is Umba (ph). We think he's about 22, 24 years of age. He's the only silverback in this group.
COOPER (voice-over): Patrick Melman (ph) is a gorilla expert with the Diane Fossey Gorilla Fund and Conservation International.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's just testing us. He's just testing us. It's OK. He's just trying to pass now. Just let him pass. As long as he doesn't feel like we're doing anything threatening, he'll just walk right by us as he did.
COOPER: Gorillas are highly susceptible to human diseases so visitors are only allowed one hour with the mountain gorillas, but it's more than worth the trip.
(on camera) Visiting the mountain gorillas, it's probably one of the most incredible, intimate experiences you can have with an animal in the wild. When you're this close to the gorillas, and you see their eyes. You see how intelligent they are and how really similar they are to human beings. Each one really has a unique personality. Each one is an individual.
(voice-over) Despite the obstacles mountain gorillas still face, they are, in some ways, a success story. In recent years their numbers have been slowly climbing.
For other gorillas in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, however, so-called lowland gorillas, the picture is much bleaker.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The lowland gorillas have, indeed, suffered from the effects of civil war, because you've had several armies and all of these armed rebel groups moving through the habitat and there are occasions when they'll just take out their AK-47s and have target practice. That happens.
COOPER: That happens and likely will continue to happen until a government takes hold in the Democratic Republic of the Congo that makes protecting gorilla as priority. If not on principle, then simply as a way to bring in some desperately needed tourist dollars.
COOPER: And John, later on in the next hour of 360, we're going to talk to animal expert Jack Hanna about his experiences with the mountain gorillas here in Central Africa -- John.
ROBERTS: That looked like that was just an amazing experience, Anderson.
COOPER: Yes. It's -- it is the most incredible animal viewing. I've done it now, like, four or five times in various countries in Central Africa, and it's hard to describe. There's nothing quite like it.
ROBERTS: That's four or five times more than I've ever done it.
But hey, time for our "Shot of the Day". And we're going to stick with our animal theme. The whole idea of whale watching is to get up close and personable with nature, much like Anderson did with the gorillas. These people definitely got what they paid for.
A camera crew actually filming seals captured this moment: thousands of humpback whales making their way along the Australian coast to their summer home in Antarctica.
Conservationists say the species is making a comeback, with their numbers rising every year. Full grown, they can weigh from 30 to 50 tons. Not a bad size, considering that they only feed twice a day on plankton and other tiny fish. Must have something to do with the serving size.
In Washington we're following the developing story that's rocking the Republican Party. Coming up, the latest fallout from tonight's stunning revelation about former representative Mark Foley. He says he's gay and was molested by a clergyman when he was a teen. How does that factor into the scandal that's already cost him his career?
Plus more from Anderson on the killing fields of Congo. And a report from Sudan, as well, where African Union peacekeepers are on a mission to stop the genocide in Darfur. But is it "Mission: Impossible"? All that when this special edition of 360 continues.
COOPER: Thanks for joining us this hour. This is a special edition of 360: "The Killing Fields: Africa's Misery, the World's Shame".
We're live right now from Goman (ph), the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a nation that suffered epic losses and unimaginable misery. Nearly four million people have died here in the last eight years from war related causes.
Tonight, with a runoff presidential election looming, the largest election effort in U.N. history, Congo is a country hanging in the balance. There's a lot to report from here, but first, John Roberts is in New York with the latest on a bombshell that exploded in Washington just hours ago -- John.
ROBERTS: Anderson, thanks very much.
Indeed, for Republicans, the scandal surrounding former Congressman Mark Foley has got from bad to worse to just plain bizarre in the span of just 24 hours.
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