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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
Immigration Deal; Africa: Dispatches from the Edge
Aired May 17, 2007 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): A bipartisan group of Senators struck a landmark deal that could pave the way to citizenship for every undocumented man, woman and child in this country.
Here's how the plan would work. After meeting certain criteria, millions of illegal immigrants would receive temporary visas called "Z" visas before applying for permanent legal status. They also would have to pay $5,000 fine. Every head of the household would have to return to his or her country of origin within eight years. They are guaranteed to be let back in. And green cards would be issued based on a point system that would favor education over family ties.
Senator Lindsey Graham says this bill will deliver justice.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: From the Ph.D. to the landscaper, there's a chance for you to you to participate in the American dream on our terms, a way that will make this country better.
COOPER: The other key points to the proposal include a guest worker program for hundreds of thousands to work in the U.S. for two years at a time.
At the borders, patrols doubled. A new security perimeter created, and the border fence expanded.
In the workplace, new enforcement procedures and strict penalties to employers who hire illegal aliens.
So far President Bush likes what he sees.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is a bill where people who live here in our country will be treated will be treated without amnesty, but without animosity.
COOPER: But to critics, it's amnesty. Shouts of the word were heard at the capitol today.
REP. BRIAN BILBRAY (R), CALIFORNIA: If you think we're going to control illegal immigration by telling the world we're going to reward it, you can't build a fence tall enough to stop illegal immigration.
COOPER: Still, the president says he's anxious to sign legislation as quickly as possible. He calls it a first step. The question is, is it the right one?
COOPER (on camera): And no doubt it will be the hotly debated all next week on Capitol Hill.
Erica Hill joins us right now with a 360 bulletin -- Erica.
ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, Paul Wolfowitz is stepping down as president of the World Bank. Today the bank's board announced he will resign at the end of next month. Wolfowitz had come under fire for his handling of a pay package for his girlfriend who is a bank employee.
A farewell of sorts at the White House from British Prime Minister Tony Blair. He leaves office next month. Today, Mr. Blair expressed no regrets for supporting President Bush's Iraq policy, even though it hurt his popularity at home.
And gasoline prices hitting a record high for a fifth straight day, according to AAA. The motor club says the average price of a gallon of unleaded, now $3.11. But still AAA expects record travel on Memorial Day weekend. More than 32 million Americans plan to drive to their destinations -- Anderson.
COOPER: Erica, thanks very much.
That's a look at the top stories tonight.
Now a 360 special report. It's about a part of the world we all need to know better, a place of extreme beauty and heartache and hope.
COOPER: Good evening. In the hour ahead we're going to take you on a journey to Africa, into the heart of a continent often ignored, often misunderstood.
Tonight, we'll bring you to the frontlines of the world's worst humanitarian crises in Darfur, as well as in the Congo.
We'll also introduce you to some of the child soldiers fighting many of Africa's most bloody conflicts. And you'll meet the majestic mountain gorillas, struggling for their survival.
There are, of course, also stories of hope tonight. We'll hear from Oprah Winfrey on the school she's helped build, and we'll talk to perhaps the bravest women you'll ever meet.
Some of tonight's stories I've written about in my book, "Dispatches from the Edge," just out this month in paperback.
We're joined in the hour ahead with CNN's Africa Correspondent Jeff Koinange, who has risked his life on many occasions to bring the countries of Africa, the reality of Africa, into our living rooms.
We being in a place the world knows well, but seems unable to do anything about -- Darfur. It's in northeast Africa, in the country of Sudan. If there is a hell on earth, this is it.
Jeff Koinange takes us there.
JEFF KOINANGE, CNN AFRICA CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): North Darfur. It's been two years since I've been here, and it's worse now. A lot worse.
A daily nightmare here for the tens of thousands of displaced people living in camps like Abu Shouk, just outside the town of El Fasher.
Lives wrecked by a civil war raging for the better part of three years between government troops and rebel forces for control of the country's rich oil wealth.
25-year old Maka Osman (ph) recently became a statistic. One of tens of thousands of women raped by bandits as she ventured out to look for firewood outside this camp. Now, she's determined to fight back in the only way she can -- building a wall of mud to protect herself and her shack, made of sticks and plastic paper.
Being here is like a punishment. Life is a punishment, is all she can say.
Aid agencies say half these women will be raped while here. Their biggest fear, they tell me, is the Arab militia known locally as the Janjaweed, which has been raping, looting, pillaging and destroying for three years.
The government denies it, but human rights groups charge that Sudan sponsors the Janjaweed to maintain its control of the nation's oil money.
(on camera): You are saying Janjaweed also here?
All the people -- you're saying all the people are hungry.
(voice-over): The last time these people were given food aid was a month, and the supplies have nearly run out. The local clinic here can hardly begin to address the growing malnutrition here.
He says, I'm tired, I'm tired. We need more doctors here.
Chris Czerwinski is head of the World Food program in north Darfur, which helps feed more than 2.5 million people here every month.
CHRIS CZERWINSKI, WORLD FOOD PROGRAM, DARFUR: Well, it's as if everything is being taken away from you. You have no more home, you have no more land, you are abandoned here amongst all these other people that are in the same conditions. It's not very clean, it's hot, it's full of sand, and they can't be independent anymore.
KOINANGE: And that's just how Suleiman Kharoum Mohammed (ph) feels, helpless, hopeless and abandoned. There won't be another food delivery here for several weeks. All his wife can do is pound the last of the grain to feed her family of 11.
The world is suddenly beginning to pay more attention to this tiny corner of Africa's largest nation. But there's been no impact yet. For now, we're just seeing more disease, malnutrition and death.
COOPER: Jeff Koinange joins me now.
Why is it only getting worse? I mean, with all of the world attention that has been paid to this, so much focus, why is it only getting worse?
KOINANGE (on camera): I think the only explanation, Anderson, is that the Sudanese government has been able to fool the world. And the way they do this is they use this region and accuse rebels in neighboring Chad of trying to topple the Sudanese government, and that's their proxy war. The Janjaweed, who are these rebels who are going from village to village, killing, looting and raping. They're trying to counter the so-called rebel offensive from Chad and using these refugees as their proxy right here.
And they have been able to fool the world into thinking government is trying to be overthrown, and it's not. These people are just victims.
COOPER: And there is now an active rebel conflict in Chad.
COOPER: Sponsored allegedly by the Sudanese.
KOINANGE: Correct, correct. And it's all just to detract from what's going on. The Sudanese -- who is going to attack one of the largest country -- the largest country on the continent?
They have their own military, they have their own army. But I think Bashir, the president of Sudan, is so threatened by being toppled, he has to have an excuse and Darfur seems to be the excuse.
COOPER: What's so frustrating too about Darfur is that it is a very difficult story to tell. I mean, you've been there to the region multiple times, but it's not a traditional war in that you don't see the violence. You don't see it. You see some of the aftermath. You see the burned villages. Occasionally you see the bodies. And you hear, as we did in that report, these terrible stories from refugees. But it's not -- it's not a war that's in our faces. And maybe that's part of the reason why it's not something which gets as much attention as it should.
KOINANGE: True. And it's such a big country, Anderson. We have to understand, Sudan, itself -- well, Darfur, is the size of California, with very few roads. Getting through one part of Darfur and -- could mean that a conflict is happening in another part. So it's difficult recording or filming this war. And like you said, all we get is the aftermath. All we get is the people's stories. And that's so difficult to tell sometimes on TV.
COOPER: It's probably one of the best known conflicts in Africa, but there are other places where there are very real humanitarian crises going on.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is perhaps next on the list in terms of a, forgotten stories, but also humanitarian crises. We're talking about millions of people -- 3 million, 4 million people who have died as a result of war and war-related conditions in the last, you know, in our lifetime, in the last 10 years, or eight years, and no one seems to pay attention to it.
KOINANGE: No. And again, Congo, the size of all of Western Europe. And guess what, Anderson? It has only 350 miles of road. So from a place getting -- from a place from Kinshasa, the capital, to the east where the conflicts are, could take you anywhere from eight hours to eight days. It is that unnavigable. It's so difficult to get from one point to the other.
And again, the rebels concentrate in that eastern part, that Ituri part. You found that one rebel. The wars are still going on even as we speak, because getting from one place to another is almost impossible.
COOPER: It's been the scene of the largest peacekeeping operation in U.N. history. The largest election operation in U.N. history. And yet, the violence continues to this day. They had successful elections, large turnout throughout the country, and yet now in the eastern part of the country there's ongoing fighting. And when we whether were there just a couple months ago, the fighting was very much alive and a lot of what's being blamed on this guy, General Laurent Nkunda, a man who was wanted by authorities. There's an arrest warrant issued for him. And yet, they said they couldn't find him. Yet, we were able to find him in his mountain hideout.
Let's take a look at our journey to meet the warlord general.
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 hilltop hideout.
We're on our way to see General Laurent 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's been able or willing to apprehend him.
(voice-over): General Nkunda controls about 1,200 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.
JASON STEARNS, CONGO EXPET, INTERNATIONAL CRISIS GROUP: He says there's no problem. He's told the general we're coming.
COOPER: The soldiers get in one of our vehicles to show us the way. At General Nkunda's compound, security is tight. His soldiers are heavily armed.
(on camera): What is your plan?
GENERAL LAURENT NKUNDA, CONGOLESE TUTSI: Our plan is that if the election will be conducted, we will talk with the one who will win the election. If there will be a disaster, 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 Bukabu (ph), your soldiers looted widespread, committed many rapes. In fact, human rights watch cites an incident 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. It's before I (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
COOPER: So this stuff happened before you got here?
NKUNDA: Before I got there.
COOPER (voice-over): Despite his denials, abuses by General Nkunda's soldiers are well documented.
Jason Stearns was in the town of Bukabu (ph) when the general's soldiers took over. What did you see?
STEARNS: Well, you see, 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.
COOPER: They were raping children?
STEARNS: They were raping children. His troops would.
COOPER: Aid workers believe hundreds of thousands have been victimized by soldiers from various armies and rebel groups.
While General Nkunda talks 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.
COOPER (on camera): We should point out, since we filed that report, since we met with the General Nkunda, not only has he refused to give up his weapons, he has taken up those weapons and there has been fighting right now in the area -- or in that north Kivu (ph) area where General Nkunda is. There have been some 600,000 displaced people. People on the run, literally fleeing for their lives because the fighting between government forces, Hutu militias and General Nkunda's forces.
How is it that General Nkunda can get way for so long? I mean, he's basically a warlord operating completely independently.
KOINANGE: And the worst part about it, Anderson, is the U.N. knows where he is and they can't do a thing about it. They know he's so well armed, well equipped, and he can just escape into the jungle areas of this part and they can't even touch him. And that's his biggest weapon. That's his biggest weapon of surprise. He can go anywhere he wants. He went as far as 10 miles from Goma and then retreated, just to let them know, I'm around, I'm not going anywhere.
COOPER: He denied to us that his troops commit rapes. He denied to us that his troops have murdered people and slaughtered innocent people. It is all well documented, though. And there is this sense in you see it in many places, throughout the developing world, but you see it so clearly in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, this sense of impunity. People literally get away with murders, with genocide, with all sorts of brutality. KOINANGE: It's so sad. It is so sad. And we've seen it time and again. And these people walk the streets. They seem to be untouchable, and no one seems to want to hold them accountable for anything. And that's why they get away it, with impunity. They go into village after village, raping, looting, maiming, killing, because they can do it and get away with it.
COOPER: When we come back, the reality of rape in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
We'll also have these stories.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I try to forget what happened to me, what those animals turned me into, but I can't.
COOPER (voice-over): Slaves of war. Their bodies broken, their strength intact. That's next.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: H's just testing us. It's OK. He's just trying to pass now.
COOPER: Powerful and preyed upon. The struggle to save Africa's mountain gorillas. We'll take you on the search to find them, when "Africa: Dispatches from the Edge," continues.
Caught in the Crossfire
4 million: Number of lives lost due to fighting in the Democratic Rep. of the Congo since 1998.
COOPER (on camera): welcome back to this 360 special "Africa: Dispatches from the Edge."
Before the break, we introduced you to a warlord whose soldiers are accused of terrible crimes. His army is battling the government's army in central Africa, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The truth is that in places like the Congo where there is no real law or order, armed men can do what they want. They can steal and kill and rape, and no one will stop them.
In the Congo, it's estimated tens of thousands of women and children have been raped in the last few years. We want you to hear their stories tonight and bear witness to their courage.
Here's CNN's Africa Correspondent Jeff Koinange. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
KOINANGE (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.
21-year-old Tintsi (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.
28-year-old Henriette Nyota 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. Denis Mukwege Mukengere 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 suffer gunshot 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: Looking at that piece, it's hard to -- it's just hard to imagine in this day and age, children being raped, being gang-raped, and no one is ever brought to justice.
KOINANGE: It is. I tell you, that story will always remain with me, Anderson. It's so sad because their lives are ruined. They're not like going to get any kind of physical or mental therapy from that.
And the worst part is, the perpetrators, they get away with it. They're allowed to get away with it because there have hardly been any arrests and it's still going on.
COOPER: One woman we met outside Goma at a center for women who had been raped -- her name was Angela. Angela had been raped, gang- raped by soldiers, in front of her children. One of her children had been burned during the rape. She showed us the scar on the child's chest. And then Angela was basically kicked out of her own home because her husband thought, well, maybe she was HIV positive, didn't want her around the house anymore. And that is a reality. Many women do end up HIV positive.
KOINANGE: Which is like a double death sentence, right? If they do survive the rape, they might not survive the HIV. Or they'll live a life of misery.
COOPER: Tens and millions. What are the current numbers of HIV positive people in Africa?
KOINANGE: 25 million, and counting. That's a lot, a lot of people. And when incidents like this happen, they just exacerbate the whole situation. It's so sad to see.
COOPER: And in terms of access to the drugs for HIV, the antiretrovirals, how many of those 25 million actually have some form of treatment?
KOINANGE: A small percent, maybe less than 10 percent. But you know what? At least the antiretrovirals are being provided for free. And that's the most important part because governments argue, if you do charge for ARVs, then it's going to blow up the economies of country -- or the GDPs. You need that money to be used in other areas of a country's economy.
COOPER: There's still so much stigma surrounding AIDS and HIV in Africa. Huge numbers of AIDS orphans -- even in South Africa, a very well-developed country, many government officials there claim HIV does not result in AIDS, that these deaths are not being caused by HIV infections.
KOINANGE: And what it does, especially in the less educated areas of South Africa, what it does is people think, oh wow, the officials say we can't get AIDS or AIDS -- HIV doesn't cause AIDS, so they go about doing what it is they do, and the numbers blow up. So it starts at the top. If the top cannot address this issue or acknowledge, then it all filters down. And that's why you have that situation in South Africa. One of the highest rates of HIV AIDS on the continent.
COOPER: It's also wiping out armies of many countries. The rates of soldiers who are infected with HIV, very high in many of these sub-Saharan countries. And then if they're going out and brutalizing women, committing rapes, that of course, spreads the disease even further.
There's that belief in South Africa -- and I don't know if it's still that way. I was there, you know, 10 years ago, and remember doing stories on this. There were people who believed that if you had sex with a child, you could cure yourself of HIV.
KOINANGE: That's right. With a virgin, that's what it is. If you had sex with a virgin, you could cure HIV. And that's the belief, and it's still there to this day. And until these beliefs -- until people are told, listen, forget about it. Let's just face the facts, entire generations will be wiped. And we're seeing this in most parts of Africa.
COOPER: You were in Gambia, where the president of Gambia actually claims he can cure HIV?
KOINANGE: Imagine that. A president of a country -- what kind of message does that send? And in the Gambia, a tiny population, a country that just literally juts out of West Africa. He says on Tuesdays and Thursdays he can heal HIV and AIDS patients. And why? Because apparently he comes from a family of healers and he was passed on the powers the day he turned 40.
COOPER: So that's what he does on Tuesdays and Thursdays?
KOINANGE: Right. And on Wednesdays and Fridays -- no, on Wednesdays he cures arthritis. Friday's an off day because it's a Muslim country.
COOPER: Are you kidding? On Wednesday -- he claims to cure arthritis?
When we come back, we're going to take a look at the fight for natural resources in Africa -- for oil and for diamonds. And how the pressures are not just affecting people, they're affecting animals as well.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER (voice-over): Plus, is this the face of evil?
KOINANGE (voice-over): Kony's M.O. is to invade villages and kidnap children. Brainwashing them and turning them into merciless killers. COOPER: Young and deadly. What it means to be a child soldier. We'll take you to the frontlines of their battle, when "Africa: Dispatches from the Edge" continues.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER (on camera): Welcome back to this 360 special, "Africa: Dispatches from the Edge."
One of the things that's so remarkable about Africa, and frankly, frustrating as well, is that many countries in Africa are rich in natural resources -- oil, diamonds, wildlife. But those resources are squandered.
In central Africa, the competition for land and food has had a devastating impact on many species of apes. The mountain gorillas of Central Africa are under siege. We went to find them.
COOPER (voice-over): To find the last remaining mountain gorillas, you have to drive for hours along bumpy dirt roads. Then, guarded by park rangers, hack your way through thick forests.
(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 on a mountains in Uganda. 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 the Congo.
(voice-over): 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.
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 called a silverback. That's the silverback right over there because of the distinctive coloring on his back. A fully grown silverback can weigh about 500 pounds. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His name is Umba (ph). And we think he's about 22 years, 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: 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 gorillas a priority. If not on principle, then simply as a way to bring in some desperately needed tourist dollars.
COOPER (on camera): I talked to Jane Goodall recently, who works, of course, with the chimpanzees and the lowland gorillas. She was saying, you know, you can't try to protect these animals without coming up with solutions for the local populations who live around there because they is such a pressure for natural resources and for land, for diamonds, for mining, for exploiting the natural resources.
KOINANGE: Absolutely. And as you know, in the Congo, diamonds are literally all over the country. In places like Bujimi (ph), where we went, people are literally digging up the real estate, the landscape, looking for diamonds.
And even though there are big companies already established over there, the villagers in those towns go literally pocket after pocket, little pieces of marking up pieces of land and wanting to dig right in there, not thinking this is where my diamond is going to be.
COOPER: Is it all -- we hear a lot about blood diamonds and people don't want to buy blood diamonds and shouldn't buy because it fuels conflicts like the fighting that we've been talking about in the Congo. Is there any place where diamonds are mined correctly.
KOINANGE: Fortunately there is, and that country's in southern Africa -- Botswana. And again, it all takes vision, it takes unselfishness and it takes education. And that's what the government there did 40 years ago when they started digging for diamonds. And now diamonds drive that economy. Yes, it's a small economy, but guess what? Every little cent is accounted for and every little cent is pumped back into the country, into education, into AIDS, into health, you name it. And Botswana is working.
COOPER: Botswana is an interesting case because that is a real success story. And it's really -- it's not all doom and gloom in Africa. And often we focus on the negative that is happening there. There are also success stories.
We're going to look at some of them -- the schools that Oprah Winfrey is building in South Africa, coming up ahead.
Also, the GDP of Africa as a whole has actually risen some 6 percent.
KOINANGE: Which is incredible because it grew over the years. And countries like Angola had a 17.6 percent growth rate. Other countries -- Kenya, Tanzania, Ghana -- they're dong doing really, really well.
COOPER: What's driving them?
KOINANGE: What's driving them is everything from the Chinese -- huge Chinese influence in China. And again, they're buying up oil blocks from Sudan, all the way to Equatorial Guinea to Angola to Nigeria. The Chinese want Africa oil to run their industries back home. Also copper, diamonds, uranium, aluminum -- they're getting it all from Africa and they're buying big time.
COOPER: The problem, of course, is that that money which is flooding into Equatorial Guinea and Angola and Sudan, it often doesn't filter down to the people who need it most. I mean, these are populations who are living in, you know, very, very poor conditions.
KOINANGE: Abject poverty, yes -- 60 percent of Africa's total population still lives on less than a dollar a day. Doesn't make any sense when countries like Nigeria are pumping, what, 2 million barrels of oil every single day at $70 a barrel. Do the math. It makes no sense.
COOPER: When we come back, we'll take a look at who's often forced to fight the wars in Africa -- children.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER (voice-over): And later tonight, Oprah's promise.
OPRAH WINFREY, TALK SHOW HOST: I look in their faces, I see my own. The girls who came from a background just like my own.
COOPER: Oprah Winfrey's dream to build a school for girls in Africa becomes a reality. We join her in Johannesburg, next on "Africa: Dispatches from the Edge."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Soldiers and Sex Slaves
20,000: Number of children abducted since the start of the Ugandan governments conflict with the Lords Resistance Army
COOPER (on camera): Welcome back to "Africa: Dispatches from the Edge."
We've looked at several brutal wars in Africa so far this hour. But what you night not realize is that many of the soldiers fighting these conflicts are children. According to the United Nations, there are 250,000 child soldiers in the world. And nowhere is the problem for clear than in Uganda, where boys and girls are being used as weapons and as slaves.
Jeff Koinange reports.
KOINANGE (voice-over): Take a good look at these young men and women. Only a few months before we met them, these teenagers had all been slaves. Kidnapped from their villages in northern Uganda by a rebel army that calls itself the Lord's Resistance Army, or LRA. Its specialty is enslavement, forcing victims to become child soldiers and sex slaves.
The LRA is led by this man, Joseph Kony, who claims to base his principles on the Ten Commandments. Kony's M.O. is to invade villages and kidnap children, brainwashing them and turning them into merciless killers. He's struck so much fear across northern Uganda, parents now insist on sending their children away each evening from their villages to the safety of the bigger cities. And around here, they are simply known as night commuters.
But after more than 20 years in hiding, Kony recently emerged, saying he's tired of running.
The Ugandan government calls the LRA terrorists. They call Kony a murderer and a madman.
The International Criminal Court calls Kony a war criminal. And it wants him to stand trial for crimes against humanity.
But Kony wants full immunity in exchange for a promise to end his decades-long fight against the Ugandan government.
Many of these teens do not want to see him pardoned after what they've been forced to see and do -- forced to murder, maim and torture their enemies, as well as suspected traitors among them. They all bear the physical and deep mental scars of war.
And as horrible as this may sound, those who escaped Kony and made it here to a rehabilitation center run by the U.S. nongovernmental organization World Vision, they are the lucky ones.
Among them, 19-year-old Alice Abalo and her 4-year-old daughter, Nancy, a product of mass rape by Kony and his men. Alice admits she killed for the LRA and that she was a sex slave, her body a constant reminder of her traumatic past. Two bullet wounds in her leg, shrapnel scars in her chest.
But what Alice saw and did as a child soldier are seared in her mind.
ALICE ABALO, FORMER SEX SLAVE (through translator): One day the group we were in had just killed about six people and proceeded to decapitate them. Then I was asked to light a wood fire using the victims' heads as support, the same way one would use three stones. I still have nightmares of their burning hair and brains oozing out of the burning heads. I've never been so scared in my life.
KOINANGE: Florence Lakor's daughter was abducted by the LRA when she was 8 years old. She had almost given up until she escaped. And now 17, she showed up at this rehabilitation center.
Florence now counsels former sex slaves and child soldiers like Alice Abalo, but admits it's difficult, especially after hearing their shocking stories.
FLORENCE LAKOR, WORLD VISION, UGANDA: Their stories are really horrible. We have had cases of children who were ordered to cook a human being. Said to cut the body into pieces and cook it up. Then they mobilize the village to come and eat the cooked body.
KOINANGE: Alice's rehabilitation into a life that's as close to normal as possible will no doubt take months, perhaps years. But she's taking the first steps, determined to, in her words, become a human being again.
COOPER: So many of these kids who have been involved in a war -- I mean, their lives are forever changed. I mean, you can't get over that kind of stuff.
KOINANGE (on camera): No doubt about it. And you know what else, Anderson? We met people in that town of Gulu, in refugee camps, that had been refugees for more than 20 years. So the children have grown up in these camps, have known nothing else but life as a refugee.
COOPER: And you must have seen this in every place you go, in some of the wars you've covered -- it is kids who are fighting these wars, whether it's Sierra Leone or Liberia. It's scary stuff. You roll up to a roadblock, and it's a child holding an AK-47 and maybe they're high, maybe they're drunk. KOINANGE: Yes.
KOINANGE: What do you tell them? Because they're in control. And you have to do what they tell you to do. So it's so scary because an adult, you can relate. A child who has been drugged, who has been given a gun, who has been given that kind of power, is totally in control and they can do what they want just to prove to the other kids.
COOPER: And these kids, I mean, they've been separated from their families at an incredibly young age, begin narcotics, and you know, the army -- and killing is the only life they know in some cases.
KOINANGE: That's right. And the armies -- adults know how to exploit these kids. They know how to drug them, they know how to manipulate them. And the kids are so malleable. They do what they are told. But the minute they are given that gun, they know they are in complete control. And every day they are trying to prove themselves. And that's how that hierarchy works. It is so scary. But at the end of the day, how do you rehabilitate those kids? Where do you begin? It's scary.
COOPER: It certainly is.
When we come back, a story of hope. Oprah Winfrey, building new schools in South Africa.
COOPER: When talking about Africa, it's easy to focus simply on the negative, on the wars and the conflicts which have killed so many in our lifetime. But there are signs of hope in Africa.
People are resilient. Even in places torn apart by war and poverty, there is determination. People find ways to survive.
In South Africa, kids come up to you in poor communities, and often they're not asking for money or candy. They want pencils and pens and books. The desire to learn is overwhelming.
Oprah Winfrey learned that firsthand in South Africa and she set about creating a school for those most in need. With $40 million of her own money, she built a leadership academy for girls in South Africa.
CNN's Jeff Koinange was there when the school first opened, and he talked to Oprah about her mission.
KOINANGE (voice-over): Oprah has been coming to South Africa for the past several years, determined to fulfill a promise she made to former President Nelson Mandela or Mediba to most here. OPRAH WINFREY, TALK SHOW HOST: So, I said to Mediba, I would like to build a school and I would like to commit $10 million dollars. This was five years ago. And he said, yes.
KOINANGE: And just like that, the two broke ground for a girl' school just outside Johannesburg in what began as a $10 million project. It's since grown to $40 million dollars and counting.
WINFREY: The dream for me was to create a school that I would most want to attend. So from the very beginning, I sat down with architects and I said we have to have a library and a fireplace so that the girls can, it can be a place of learning as well as living for them.
We have to have a theater because this is a school for leaders and in order to be a leader, you have to have a voice. In order to have a voice, you need oration. So the idea for the school came about based on what I felt would be an honor for the African girls.
KOINANGE: And all of this for free. Free uniforms. Free books. Free meals. Everything is free at Oprah's school.
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Hi.
KOINANGE: Oprah insisted on personally interviewing all the perspective students from schools around the country. Her requirements were simple. The girls had to have better than average grades and they had to come from under privileged homes, much like she did.
WINFREY: I look in their faces and I see my own. With girls who came from a background just like my own. I was raised by a grandmother, no running water or electricity. But yet because of a sense of education and learning, I was able to become who I am.
And I want to do the same for these girls. And so, I think there's no better place than Africa because the sense of need, the sense of value for education and appreciation for it, could not be greater.
COOPER: It's remarkable what Oprah Winfrey has done for these students and for the country, really, of south Africa. It's also a testament to how bad the education system is elsewhere in Africa, that this has gotten so much attention, that the building of two schools seems like such a big deal and there are millions and millions of children in Africa desperately in need of, you know, of a school book, of a pencil, of a pen, of a teacher.
KOINANGE (on camera): And it doesn't cost that much, Anderson. These kids want to learn. They want to be like kids anywhere else in the world. And what Oprah did -- I mean, it was unbelievable. I saw the look on those girls' faces when she announced that they were going to be in her first class. You should have seen that room. There wasn't a dry eye in that room.
COOPER: As I remember it, including your own.
KOINANGE: Including my own.
COOPER: Jeff, your reporting in Africa is extraordinary. You take incredible personal risks to do it. And I know your whole team does and we appreciate it. Thanks very much.
KOINANGE: Thank you.
COOPER: And thank you for watching this special edition of 360.
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