Sunday, April 14, 2013

From The ATA Archives: Anderson Cooper in The Democratic Republic of The Congo, October 2006, Part 6

After a few weeks break in the series, this Sunday, as we look back on Anderson's reporting from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, it's now Thursday, October 5, 2006 and with John Roberts holding down the anchor desk in NYC, Anderson is live in Rutshuru, Congo for he first hour of AC360. If you need to catch up on what we've covered so far, please click here.

Anderson opened AC360 with an overview of the stories from the Congo before throwing to John Roberts back in NYC for the latest news stateside ~

COOPER: We are in Rutshuru again tonight, a town in the most dangerous part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The war here is technically over, but the fighting, of course, hasn't stopped. It's especially bad here in the eastern provinces. Caring for the wounded has become an overwhelming challenge. The health system here is pretty much collapsed. And medical relief groups struggle to deliver care in the middle of the chaos.

Anderson's report on the work the French medical group, Medecins Sans Frontieres, or MSF, is doing in the area ~

COOPER: We've met a lot of children since we arrived here in the Congo. Almost half the population in the country younger than 15. Being a child, however, in the Congo may be the hardest thing on earth. One in five children die before they reach the age of 5, one in five. The rate is even higher here in the eastern provinces.

Those who do survive, they get no breaks at all. Four million have been orphaned. Tens of thousands have been forced to join militias.

So many of the children here have suffered unimaginable losses and abuse. They've seen things that, well, that no child should ever see. Their scars are deep, and you have to wonder, can they ever be healed?

360 M.D, Sanjay Gupta, reports.

Also, in the above clip is a bit of Anderson's interview with Angelina Jolie.

COOPER: As if it's not bad enough to be forced out of your country to live scared and hungry in refugee camps, as we've been reporting, women here also face the likelihood of rape. And even the most natural act like marriage and childbirth can be life threatening.

Nicholas Kristof is a columnist for "The New York Times", a Pulitzer Prize winner who's traveled a lot in Africa. I spoke to him earlier tonight about the plight of women here.

COOPER: For decades the catastrophe here in the Congo has been hiding in plain sight. The crisis, the deadliest anywhere since World War II. Think about that. Some four million people died in the last 10 years here.

We came bracing ourselves for what we'd find. But truth is, nothing really can prepare you. What you're about to see is my reporter's notebook. The pictures are by Getty Images photographer Piers Anders Peterson.


COOPER (voice-over): There are moments in the Congo when you find it hard to believe that a place like this really exists. In the Congo, you can feel the earth. You can smell it, the rawness, the thin line between life and death.

There's some things you see, some things you hear that simply are unbelievable. Women gang raped, who now have to hide because of the stigma they face. You look in their eyes, there's nothing you can say. "I'm sorry" sounds so small.

Everywhere you go you're surrounded. Curious kids, smiling stares. They run alongside your car yelling "Muzungu, Muzungu (ph)", "white guy," "white guy." You can't help but laugh.

There is corruption. There's fighting, rebel armies that rape and loot. Decades of rulers here have failed the people. But the people are the strength of this land: the burdens they bear every day, uphill and down. I know I'm not as strong as them. Men, women, children, here, no one gets a break.

It is unconscionable when you think about it that this land which is so rich, remains so poor. In the ground, there's gold, there's diamonds, tin and coal. You can chisel it out with simple tools, sometimes even with your bear hands. But the riches, they're squandered; they're siphoned off, lost for good. They have been for generations.

The mountains, the forests, lush, green but threatened. The mountain gorillas, their best hope for a future. You can sit within feet of them. They're as curious about us as we are of them.

There is something about the Congo that gets under your skin. This pulse of life, the throb of pain. Millions have died here, though few seem to have noticed. How many more millions will it take before something is done?

COOPER: And we'll have more from the Congo coming up. Stay tuned.

Please join us next week for the last installment of Anderson's reporting from the Democratic Republic of the Congo in October 2006.  Until then...........

AC360 Transcript
AC360 Podcast

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