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Encore Presentation: Dispatches from the Edge

Aired July 5, 2007 - 23:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: The scenes of some of the biggest stories of our time. Many of the dispatches you'll see tonight form the basis of my book, "Dispatches from the Edge," a memoir of war, disasters and survival. The book has just been released in paperback with a new chapter. And some of those new stories you'll see tonight.
This is a personal look back and an update on some of the most memorable stories we've covered. We'll take you back to the water- filled streets of New Orleans in the days after Hurricane Katrina.

You'll go on patrol with American soldiers in the mountains of Afghanistan.

You'll see the rubble-strewn streets of Beirut during the Hezbollah/Israel conflict.

And you'll meet some of the bravest women in Africa.

All people and places on the edge.

On some stories and some places you feel privileged to be there. Without our cameras, people abandoned, let down by their government would suffer in silence. No one knowing of their plight.

Hurricane Katrina's a great example of that. After the storm I went to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, afraid that small towns like Waveland and Bay St. Louis would be forgotten.

The storm hit on a Monday morning. It was Thursday when I filed this report.


COOPER (voice-over): In Waveland, Mississippi, the water is gone, the waves of sadness have just begun.

Are you all right, ma'am?

We found Pauline Conaway, clutching a picture she found in the rubble.

(On camera): Who is that a picture of?

PAULINE CONAWAY, WAVELAND, MISSISSIPPI: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) mother. And it survived. I mean, I don't know whose it is.

COOPER (voice-over): This is the first time Pauline has been back to her street. Her street, her home is completely destroyed.

CONAWAY: That's my chair.

COOPER (on camera): A chair. A grill.

CONAWAY: That's our grill.

COOPER: Precious reminders of a life lost.

Reporters are supposed to remain distant, observers. There is no distance in Waveland anymore.

(on camera): You find just about any block you go down here in Waveland, especially along the beach, I mean, people are just coming back, one by one, and finding their home is just completely gone and it's -- it's devastating. I mean, actually, that's...

CONAWAY: This is from our room. It's from our room.

COOPER: It's hard to know what to say to people when they are seeing their home is destroyed and they're coming back for the first time. And, you know, you try to help them pick up some of their possessions, but, you know, what do you say to someone whose life is gone?

(Voice-over): A few blocks away we found Doctors Bill and Judith Bradford. They survived the storm, but three of their miniature horses are dead.

BILL BRADFORD, WAVELAND, MISSISSIPPI: If there's anyone from the American Miniature Horse Association, we need someone to come get the minies who did survive.

COOPER: Nine horses survived, but there's no hay left, no food to feed them.

Block after block, homes destroyed, lives ruined. Only the suffering remains.


COOPER (on camera): Some good people saw that report and sent a trailer to rescue those horses.

It was days before major help began arriving for the people in Mississippi and New Orleans.

Five days after the storm I left Mississippi and headed to the crescent city. The streets were still filled with water. Families still waited for rescue. This next dispatch I partially shot on a small digital camera. I think it gives a greater intimacy to the report. I hope it makes you feel like you're there with us.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With recovery of bodies... COOPER (voice-over): So many words have already been spoken about what's happening here. So many words, what more can be said?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The death toll will be in the thousands.

COOPER: You drive down streets and don't recognize a thing. The water, the waste, New Orleans is buried. You clear trees and debris, you feel on your own. It's a flooded frontier, the edge of the world.


COOPER: A cowboy crew of New Orleans cops takes us on patrol.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Search and rescue on Spec 2.

COOPER: They have country music and plenty of guns, but they're low on ammo and their equipment is old.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Somebody take this rifle. This rifle has malfunctioned. Put it somewhere where nobody will take it. It won't fire.

COOPER (on camera): Police at this station in the French Quarter put up a sign that says Fort Apache. That's pretty appropriate. It feels like it's the Wild West here. One officer just told me it's a war zone and every night they take fire; people shooting into the police station. They've now posted snipers on the buildings to shoot back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The criminal elements try to get us down, but they can't get us because we're still together. They thought they could break us, but they can't. That's how it's going down.

COOPER (voice-over): Nicholas Wood is a rookie. He graduated from the police academy just four weeks ago.

NICHOLAS WOOD, NEW ORLEANS POLICE DEPARTMENT: Nothing that we did in the academy could have prepared us for this. But you know what? It's a good life experience. You know what I'm saying?

You have to grow up real fast. You got to do what you got to do. But we are surviving and we are going to survive and we are going to make it through this and the next time people see New Orleans, it's going to be the number-one city in America.

COOPER: Every day we put on waders and motor through back streets in shallow bottom boats. Every street you go down, every corner you turn, another story, another shock of surprise.

Desperate dogs, abandoned by owners dead or alive, scared, hungry. In a place of priorities, they're low on the list.

(on camera): There are so many dogs which are just starving. And you try to feed them as much as you can, but there's too many of them roaming around. It's a health hazard.

Anybody else there?

(voice-over): We've all found ourselves in positions we're not used to -- searching for survivors, taking chances every day. We were videotaping a helicopter rescue, two people plucked from their home by this massive machine. The helicopter's rotors churned up filthy water, spraying it on our cameras, getting it into our mouths.

Charlie, my producer, had to hang on to a stop sign to keep our boat from getting swamped. Chris, our photojournalist, cut off his shirt to keep Kevin's camera lens dry.

You do what you can. You try to stay clean and you try to stay safe. But it's not always possible in conditions like these.

(on camera): When you're out in these flooded neighborhoods, the water is so contaminated. I mean, it's got human remains in it. It's got human waste. There are bodies floating in it. There are dogs defecating. You know, there's gas leaks. There is oil in the water. There are all sorts of just toxic chemicals. And you know, when these helicopters come down, they spray the water in your face you really have to try to keep your mouth shut, keep your eyes shut. But you know, we do what we can to try to clean up immediately afterwards.

(voice-over): There's no telling how long the cleanup of New Orleans will take. No telling how many days, how many bodies, how much money it's going to cost. For some, I suppose, the story has already gotten routine -- same pictures, same rescues day after day.

If you ask me, that only adds to the horror of it all. I realized today that all week I've been referring to the dead I've seen as bodies and corpses. I should be ashamed of myself. These are human beings, Americans, our neighbors. They had families. They had friends. And now they have nothing -- no life, no future, not even dignity in death.


COOPER (on camera): Police now think most of those shots they heard in the night were people trying to shoot their way out of their attics as the water threatened to swallow them.

In all, 1,577 people died in Louisiana, another 238 in Mississippi, two in Alabama, and 14 in Florida. And of course, the struggle to rebuild continues today.

As I said, there are times you're glad to be somewhere, glad you're able to tell the stories of people who have no voice.

In January 2006 we found ourselves in coal country, near the Sago Mine in West Virginia. Thirteen miners were trapped underground. One night word began to break that miners had been found alive. And what happened next is something none of us who were there will ever forget.


COOPER: It's official -- your name is Tamila?


COOPER (voice-over): It began at 9:00 p.m., when an official from the Red Cross broke the news on CNN that family members had been told one miner was dead.

(on camera): What did he say to the family members?

SWIGER: That they have found one body, confirmed dead. But they can't identify him yet.

COOPER (voice-over): What followed was a night of heartbreak and joy, followed by even more heartbreak, a night no one here will ever forget.

JOE MANCHIN, GOVERNOR, WEST VIRGINIA: With the air levels that we have to deal with, it's still an uphill battle and it's still -- the odds are against us. From that being said, again, we are in a different total mode than what we thought we would be in at this time. So, our hopes are still high and -- and we still -- as I say, we believe in miracles in West Virginia, and we're still hoping for that miracle.

COOPER: The governor struck an optimistic note at 10:41 p.m., when news the man trip the miners used was found intact.

Optimism turned to elation at 11:49 p.m., when the bells of the Sago Baptist Church rang out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They just come out of the mines. They say we got 12 alive. It's good news.

COOPER (on camera): Where did you -- who told you that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They just came out of the mines and sent an official down, said we got 12 alive.

COOPER (voice-over): Word had spread from workers involved in the rescue effort to family members inside the church.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You always have to have hope. And God can make miracles happen.

COOPER: Family and friends flocked back to the church.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I barefooted -- I ran to the -- barefooted to the church.

COOPER: Leaving the church, Governor Manchin gave a thumbs up.

VOICE OF KENNETH TUCKER, CNN PRODUCER: There's no official spokesman. The governor zipped down the hill, and had his finger in the air, and said, believe in miracles. And he took off, and, hopefully, he will be down near you soon.

COOPER: 12:28 a.m., Randi Kaye, outside the church, received further confirmation from Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What can you confirm for us at this hour? We're being told 12 miners alive.


COOPER: Miners' families said they were told the miners would come to the church.

(on camera): That is just extraordinary, that they would actually -- that these miners would be in good enough shape that they would actually be able to come to the church to -- to greet their family members.

KAYE: It was surprising to us as well, but most of the family members that we have spoken to have all been told that. And they're telling us that their relatives are expected to come here.

COOPER (voice-over): 1:12 a.m., an ambulance races by.

(on camera): We have information that there is a miner inside that ambulance. We are told that there is a miner inside that ambulance.

(voice-over): That seemed to offer further proof the miners were alive. But no one else emerged from the darkness until about 2:30 a.m.

(on camera): We are seeing activity up at the church. And the governor has arrived up at the church. So, we believe there may be a press conference very shortly.

(voice-over): There was no press conference. Only eight minutes later, three hours of sheer joy suddenly replaced with disbelief and despair.

LYNETTE ROBY, WITNESSED DEATH ANNOUNCEMENT: There's only one made it out alive.

COOPER: Where...


ROBY: I think the name was Randal Ware (sic). The governor's in there, and this big in-charge CEO of the mine is apologizing.

And I think they said the other 11 couldn't be saved. I don't know if that's for sure, that they're perished or not, but I do know only one is...


COOPER: This is unbelievable.

ROBY: It's totally -- it's -- it's the worst thing that I have ever heard. I don't know how the -- this information could get this far.

COOPER (voice-over): It was not until 3:07 a.m. that official word came from the mine company. The long awaited press conference only confirmed the worst.

BEN HATFIELD, CEO, INTERNATIONAL COAL GROUP, INC.: This is certainly not the outcome that we had hoped for and prayed for. So, again, our hearts and prayers go out to the families.


COOPER (on camera): Of course, had our cameras not been there, no one would have ever known the agony those families were put through.

Randal McCloy, the sole survivor of the Sago Mine tragedy is still recovering, living with his wife and kids.

There's still no definitive explanation for the explosion inside Sago.

Coming up, from the mountains of West Virginia to the mountains of Afghanistan.


COOPER (voice-over): The hunt for Osama bin Laden.

(on camera): What's so strange when you're on patrol is even if the soldiers don't make contact with the enemy, even if you don't see any enemy fighters, you know that they were here.

COOPER (voice-over): Chasing the terrorists and the Taliban beyond enemy lines.

Plus, media manipulation. The sirens blare, but it's all for show.

(on camera): This is a highly orchestrated Hezbollah media event.

(voice-over): Inside Hezbollah territory where all eyes are watching you. Ahead on "Dispatches from the Edge."



COOPER (on camera): I was standing over there just a few minutes ago setting the camera up when the shots began. I don't know if they were shooting at me or what, but they're basically just blanketing this area right now with sniper fire.


COOPER: That was me back in 1993. The war in Bosnia was one of the first wars I ever covered. I had borrowed a home video camera and made a fake press pass. I started going to wars by myself in the hopes of becoming a reporter.

In Bosnia there were Muslim jihadists fighting. Now, of course, Iraq and Afghanistan are the destination points for global jihadists.

This past September I was embedded in Afghanistan with the unit of the 10th Mountain Division. And as you're about to see, their fight is still a long way from finished.


COOPER (voice-over): Captain Jason Dye has served in Iraq, but says his mission in Afghanistan is far more dangerous.

CAPTAIN JASON DYE, 10TH MOUNTAIN DIVISION: Even before I came here, I was like, thank God I'm going to Afghanistan, it's going to be safer than Iraq. And now that I've gotten here, I can say for sure, it is exactly the opposite of what I thought. It is dangerous here. There's a lot of stuff going on.

COOPER: Dye commands Bravo Company, 3rd Brigade of the 10th Mountain Division. His base is dangerously close to the Pakistan border.

DYE: This is one of the main infiltration routes for the enemy. They've begun to do a lot more rocket attacks. We used to get a rocket attack maybe once a week. Now it's every other day, every couple of days, every day. And they've resorted to that and IEDs and mines.

COOPER: Captain Dye doesn't know for sure, but he believes Taliban militants are learning how to make IEDs from foreign fighters trained in Iraq.

DYE: There's a trainer coming out here telling them how to do stuff. That's what my intelligence tells me.

COOPER: To stop jihadists and the Taliban from crossing into Afghanistan, Captain Dye and his men routinely patrol the rugged mountains along the border.

(on camera): The unit has just received some intelligence. And we can't tell you how they received it, but it indicates that there may be fighters in this area. It could mean an ambush, could be just talk, it could be nothing at all. It just means that the soldiers have to be extra vigilant as they head back down the mountain.

(voice-over): What do you look for?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Movement, personnel. Anybody gathering in a spot that looks odd. People trying to hide in the tree line, that sort of thing. Spotters. Usually the locals don't go up into these hills. If you see someone sitting on them, that's a spotter.

COOPER: On this patrol, however, there are no spotters, no ambush after all. Captain Dye and his men head safely back to base. One mission down, countless more to go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, I have a family. All of these guys have families. We're out here fighting so that we don't have to do this at home, so that our families can stay safe and that makes you feel good. It makes you feel like you're doing something.


COOPER (on camera): Those soldiers have all had their tours extended. The sacrifices they and their families have made is truly extraordinary.

When I go on a story, I travel with a team -- engineers and producers, cameramen, sometimes even a still photographer. We try to think of new ways to bring viewers a real visceral sense of what it's like being in a place. Sometimes I use the pictures our photographer takes to illustrate an essay. A behind the scenes, behind the headlines look at reporting.

This is one dispatch I filed from that same trip to Afghanistan.


COOPER (voice-over): A few minutes after we landed in Kabul, there was a suicide attack.

When we got to the scene, they were hosing down the street. I didn't understand why at first, but then I saw there were chunks of flesh all over the ground.

There are moments here it feels like Iraq. At the hotel where we stay there are guards and bomb checks. All of us have to wear bulletproof vests.

When we drove outside Kabul, we hired a half dozen armed guards. When we stopped for lunch, one of them carried his rocket propelled grenade to the table just in case.

No matter how much time you spend here, you only feel like you are getting glimpses, a furtive glance at what life is really like. Women in burkas pass you by, avoiding your glances, refusing to talk.

There have been elections and progress, openness unheard of under the Taliban. You can buy CDs and perfume. There's even a Western- style mall where young men dress up in their finest clothes. None of it seems stable, however. None of it seems permanent.

In Jalalabad we found what was once Osama bin Laden's home, a headquarters for al Qaeda. Now it's empty. Mud walls, dirt floors, all of it fading into dust.

At times, it feels like this is a land of dust. The old, the young, generations have come and gone, countless wars, endless conflicts. In the end, they, us, everyone, everything blows away with the wind. In the end, in Afghanistan, only these mountains, this land remains. (END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER (on camera): Covering a war is never easy. It's not just a physical danger. You have to make sure you're not getting used by either side.

Coming up, we'll take you deep inside Hezbollah territory and reveal how they try to manipulate the pictures you see.

Plus, what happens when government forces meant to protect people turn on them?

When this 360 special, "Dispatches from the Edge," continues.


COOPER: On 360 we try to show all sides of a story. I know it's popular in cable news these days to wear your opinion on your sleeve or try to force it down viewers' throats. I don't do that. I try to give facts and information. I think our viewers are smart enough to make up their own minds.

During the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah last summer, we made sure to report from both Israel and Lebanon. I learned long ago you can't just stay behind an anchor desk. You have to go to the frontlines of a story. You have to see it and experience it for yourself.


COOPER (voice-over): It's been three weeks now, three weeks and counting. Fighting and dying, shelling and running. So much of it seems so long ago. Only the pictures are a reminder you were ever there.

War is like that. Each day's the first. The past is dead, forgotten. In war, there's only now, only this. A smoke shared by buddies, a few hours rest. The minutes pass, so do the memories.

At first, the shelling, the rockets, that's what you see. It's what you hear. Incoming, outgoing, sirens and screams. All of it quickly fades, however. It becomes like your pulse, always there, a throb in your ear, a beat you barely notice.

From a distance there's a beauty to it, brilliant flames, a flash of light, a brief boom that echoes in the hills.

Up close there's nothing beautiful about it. The ground rumbles, your spine shakes. The heat and dirt scald your skin.

So much of this war we don't even see. You stare at distant hills that smoke and smolder. The ground is dead. You see tanks move, soldiers come and go, but you don't see the fight up close, and that's where we all want to be.

We try to get close, as close as you can. We want to feel the heat, the fury, swallow the embers. You watch firefighters put out the flames, but it's never enough, we want to see more.

We followed the action wherever its lead -- Beirut, Cyprus, Haifa, Kiryat Shmona. Three weeks now, three weeks and counting. Sometimes I'm not even sure what I've seen.

I used to stare at the holes made by the rockets, hoping to see, to learn something. The truth is, there's nothing inside. It's steel and shrapnel, shattered concrete. There's nothing to learn.

You only learn from what you don't want to look at, what you least want to see -- the blood on the ground, the sacrifices made. In Israel, they pick up the pieces -- flesh and bone, heart and brain. All must be buried, all must be saved.

There's so much blood on both sides of this border, so much loss already endured. We see this war fought in the distance, but when death descends, it happens up close.

Three weeks and counting. The pictures are painful. Three weeks and counting. So is the truth.


COOPER (on camera): We spent about three weeks reporting from Israel and about a week in Lebanon.

I learned a long time ago that you have to be careful in a war zone, not just for your physical security, but careful about people trying to shape the stories you tell.

Sometimes they're subtle about their manipulation, and sometimes it's not subtle at all. Take a look.


COOPER (voice-over): Drive into southern Beirut, and you quickly discover another city entirely. A heavily bombed state within a state, beyond the control of the Lebanese government.

This is Hezbollah territory. Along the road posted like billboards, pictures of so-called martyrs, Hezbollah fighters who died battling Israel.

(on camera): You can drive around. It doesn't seem like there's anyone around. All of a sudden your eyes -- it's almost like adjusting to the darkness. Suddenly, you realize there are people who are watching you and guys on motorcycles talking on cell phones who pass you by, watching very closely what you're doing.

(voice-over): Tension in this neighborhood is high. Many here are convinced Israel is sending in agents to help guide their aerial attacks.

(on camera): We're not allowed to enter Hezbollah territory really without their permission. They control this whole area, even after the sustained Israeli bombing campaign. We've arranged with a Hezbollah representative to get permission to come here. We've been told to pull over to the side of the road and just wait.

(voice-over): We'd come to get a look at the damage and had hoped to talk with a Hezbollah representative. Instead, we found ourselves with other foreign reporters taken on a guided tour by Hezbollah.

Young men on motor scooters followed our every movement. They only allowed us to videotape certain streets, certain buildings.

Once, when they thought we'd videotaped them, they asked us to erase the tape.

These men are called al-Shabab, Hezbollah volunteers who are the organization's eyes and ears.

(on camera): You see their CD's on the wall still.

Hezbollah representatives who are with us now, but don't want to be photographed, will say -- will point to something like that and they'll say, well, look, this is a store. The civilians lived in this building. This is a residential complex.

And while that may be true, what the Israelis will say is that Hezbollah has their offices, their leadership has offices and bunkers even in residential neighborhoods. And if you're trying to knock out the Hezbollah leadership with air strikes, it's very difficult to do that without killing civilians.

As bad as this damage is, it certainly could have been much worse in terms of civilian casualties. Before they started heavily bombing this area, Israeli warplanes did drop leaflets in this area, telling people to get out.

The civilian death toll, though, has angered many Lebanese. Even those who do not support Hezbollah are outraged by the pictures they've seen on television of civilian casualties.

(voice-over): Civilian casualties are clearly what Hezbollah wants foreign reporters to focus on. It keeps the attention off them. And questions about why Hezbollah should still be allowed to have weapons when all the other militias in Lebanon have already disarmed.

After letting us take pictures of a few damaged buildings, they take us to another location, where there are ambulances waiting.

(on camera): This is a highly orchestrated Hezbollah media event. When we got here, all the ambulances were lined up. We were allowed a few minutes to talk to the ambulance drivers. Then one by one, they've been told to turn on their sirens and zoom off so that all the photographers here can get shots of ambulances rushing off to treat civilians. That's the story -- that's the story that Hezbollah wants people to know about.

(voice-over): These ambulances aren't responding to any new bombings. The sirens are strictly for effect.

When a man in a nearby building is prompted to play Hezbollah resistance songs on his stereo, we decide it's time to go.

Hezbollah may not be terribly subtle about spinning a story, but it is telling perhaps that they try. Even after all this bombing, Hezbollah is still organized enough to have a public relations strategy, still in control enough to try and get its message out.


COOPER (on camera): Coming up, the impact of war on the most vulnerable -- women and children who have no one looking out for them.


COOPER (voice-over): They are the victims of war.

(on camera): The children, as young as 3 years old?


COOPER: That's -- it's crazy.

(voice-over): The shocking reality of what happens to some children in war.

Also tonight, the mountain gorillas of Eastern Congo. Majestic, powerful, living on the edge. The fight to save them, ahead.




COOPER (on camera): At scenes like this, you try to figure what it is that happened here.

It looks like a van filled with passengers. He hit something or was hit by a rocket or something. The smell of rotting flesh, it's everywhere in the air.


COOPER: That was in 1994. The genocide in Rwanda was a story I'll never forget covering. The intimate nature of the killing, the knives and machetes, clubs. Neighbors killing neighbors, women and children.

In wars you see many horrific things.

This is a picture of me when I was 17. I had left high school early and was driving across central Africa. That's me with a pygmy chief in Zaire.

The country is now called the Democratic Republic of the Congo. And the area where that picture was taken is now a war zone. Millions have died in the last eight years in the Congo, and tens of thousands have been raped.

Their suffering, their strength is something we think you should witness. I want to warn you, the story you are about to hear is very disturbing.


COOPER (voice-over): At a busy hospital in Goma, a silent little girl sits on a stoop. She is 5 years old now, but still cannot speak of the terrible thing that happened to her.

Two years ago, when she was just 3, she was gang-raped by soldiers.

(on camera): Children as young as 3 years old are getting raped?

DR. LUC MALEMO, HEAL AFRICA: Yes, 3 years old, yes.

COOPER: That's -- it's -- it's crazy.

MALEMO: Very crazy. And we -- it's difficult to understand the -- the social causes of these events.

But we think that people are so disappointed, and they have been in a dictatorship for 40 years. Now the war came. So, they lost all the hope. And they start behaving like animals.

COOPER (voice-over): Dr. Luc Malemo has a hospital ward full of girls and women who have been raped and developed fistulas, holes in their vaginas or rectums that make it impossible to control bodily functions.

(on camera): Why do so many rape victims here develop fistulas?

MALEMO: We -- we think that -- that the -- the first reason, that the rape is too violent. Some of them, they will use, after -- after raping the lady, they will use maybe -- they may use a weapon, a knife, or even a piece of wood. And some of them have been shot on after being raped.

COOPER: So, women aren't just getting raped, and they're not just getting gang-raped; they're -- they're often being shot internally afterward, or -- or -- or people putting objects inside them, knives, clubs?

MALEMO: Yes. Yes.

They're being raped. But some of them, mainly those who develop fistula, tell that, after being raped, they will be shot on, or just be traumatized by a weapon.

COOPER (voice-over): Dr. Malemo is able to repair the physical damage done by rape in some 70 percent of cases. But some wounds, physical and psychological, are impossible to heal.

ANGELA, RAPE VICTIM (through translator): I was raped by three men, soldiers. They also shot me in my right arm. When it was happening, I thought I was dying. I was seeing death in front of me. I didn't think I would live.

COOPER: Angela was raped in front of her children.

(on camera): This is all the burn?

(voice-over): She says her attackers also burned her daughter, Godaliv (ph). We agreed to protect their identities because of the stigma still associated with rape in the Congo.

ANGELA (through translator): People in the neighborhood just point fingers and say, you're a raped women, and you are infected with AIDS.

COOPER: Angela lives in a compound with her three children and other rape survivors, who say they can't go home. They're supported by a charity called Heal Africa.

(on camera): This is the one meal that Angela's kids will probably have today. She and her children have been living here in Goma for the last five months. Angela would like to be able to return to her home village, but that's simply impossible.

The men who raped her are likely still living in the area. They, of course, have never been brought to justice. And she really has no home to go back to. Her husband has now kicked her out of the house because she was gang-raped.

ANGELA (through translator): He heard I was raped. And he just said, go on your own. I don't need you anymore. If we live together, you now might have HIV, so you might infect me.

COOPER (voice-over): Like many rape survivors here, Angela's future is, at best, uncertain.

ANGELA (through translator): The only thing I need is some land, so I can build a house. I might die, and I want my kids to have that castle. I'm hoping for a miracle.

COOPER: There are few miracles in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The men who rape are rarely brought to justice. And the women who survive must simply try to heal.


Coming up, the struggle to survive in Africa's hungry season. Heroic doctors and nurses working to save three children's lives in Niger.

And for mountain gorillas to Asia's elephants. Dangers and difficulties of working with animals, ahead on this special 360, "Dispatches from the Edge."



COOPER (voice-over): I sat and watched the boy's father use what little water he had to clean his son's body. They had come to Baidoa because they had heard there was food here. The father had already watched his two other boys die. This was his last. He was 5 years old.

He was just one boy. His was just one death. It happens 1,000 times a day in places like this all over Somalia. It happens every day.


COOPER (on camera): That was the famine in Somalia back in 1992. It was my first story in Africa. I had never seen anything like it.

In August 2005, once again I found myself in Africa, covering children in crisis. This time, the country was Niger, and malnutrition was sweeping the land.

I know these stories are hard to watch. Believe me, they're hard to cover. At times it feels like there's nothing you can do. But I think it's important to watch them. It's important to remember those who have died, to remember their names, their courage, the lives they led and the deaths they fought heroically to avoid.


COOPER (voice-over): On a plastic-covered mattress in a makeshift hospital ward, a 10-month-old child fights to stay alive. His name is Habu Rebu (ph). His tiny body riddled with infections from months of severe malnutrition.

(on camera): So he came in on the 19th of July?


COOPER: And by the 30th?

TEKTONIDIS: He did well until about the 23rd, and then he crashed.

COOPER: So he's -- he's actually worse?

TEKTONIDIS: And now he came up a bit, and, yes, he's worse than when he came in.

COOPER: Worse than when he came in.

(voice-over): Dr. Milton Tektonidis works for the relief group Doctors Without Borders. Since January, in Niger, they've treated more than 14,000 children at risk of starvation. They know there are many more too sick to make it to the hospital.

(on camera): The mothers bring their children here from out of the bush. And there's one child here who is probably going to be admitted to the hospital.

(on camera): What do you look for?

TEKTONIDIS: Well, usually in a kid, you look for sunken eyes and skin that -- skin that doesn't come back, decreased skin terger (ph). Skin that -- see like that? It doesn't go right back. It stays folded.

COOPER (voice-over): This child's name is Rashidu Mamou (ph). He's two years old, and his pain is beyond tears.

TEKTONIDIS: This is a marasnekwa (ph), actually the worst case possible.

COOPER (on camera): So there's fluid...


TEKTONIDIS: There's fluid. You can feel it. If you feel it, you can feel he's got water in his tissues.

I think we'll get him. They will give him fluid, they will give him sugar right away to make sure that he's not hypoglycemic, and then antibiotics and milk. And if he makes it through the first day or two, you'll see him running around in another week.

COOPER: Really?

TEKTONIDIS: Yes. Yes. Yes. It's miraculous.

COOPER (voice-over): A few beds away, covered with a blanket, we find Aminu Yahehu (ph), watched over by his mom.

TEKTONIDIS: How are you? How are you doing, huh? How are you doing?

Move your hand a bit. OK. OK. Shh.

So he came in with edema everywhere.

COOPER (on camera): Edema, that's water.

TEKTONIDIS: Water in the tissues. So water everywhere. Water in the tissues, water around his eyes. And their skin discomates (ph) -- discomates (ph), the skin...


COOPER: Discomates (ph) mean?

TEKTONIDIS: Comes off. It comes off because of a zinc deficiency.

COOPER: So his skin is literally just peeling off?

TEKTONIDIS: Here it's gotten -- it's back down to normal again. It's gotten better. But there are some places it hasn't completely finished.

And he's unfortunately developed some lesions of pressure sores from being sick so long, but he's getting better fast. I'm sure we're going to save him. If he makes it through another day or two.

COOPER: That's a question, whether he would make it through a day or two?

TEKTONIDIS: Well, yes, for sure. He can get -- in an hour, he can die if he gets too much bacteria in his blood.

What a life, eh? What a life.

COOPER (voice-over): If a child in this intensive care unit is able to drink milk formula, there's a good chance they'll live.

(on camera): Now he's drinking.

TEKTONIDIS: He's going to drink the whole thing. Bravo, bambino. Bravo, bravo, bravo, Bambini, bravo, bravo, bravo. All finished. Bravo, bravo, bravo.

COOPER (voice-over): Rashido (ph) is trying to drink milk as well, but he can't take as much.

TEKTONIDIS: Almost gone. Slowly. Slowly. He's hungry. You have to go slowly, slowly, but he wants it, which is a very good sign.

COOPER: Habu (ph), however, can't drink at all. Doctors don't think he'll live through the night.

The next morning when we return, the arrivals' tent is once again filled, children getting weighed and measured. Some immediately receive milk.

Inside intensive care, Aminu (ph) is still asleep. Rashidu (ph) is awake, and Habu (ph) is alive. His breathing, shallow and quick, but the nurses say he's stable.

This is the last time we'll see him. When we return later in the day, Habu's (ph) bed is empty.

(on camera): It's shocking how quickly things can change here, how in the blink of an eye a child can simply vanish. And when we came in this morning, the three kids we met yesterday were doing OK. At least they made it through the night, they were still alive.

Well, now it's the evening, several hours later, and things have changed. Aminu (ph) is OK. His mom is pretty confident. But Rashidu (ph) is in septic shock. And Habu (ph) -- well, Habu (ph) died several hours ago. He was just 10 months old.

(voice-over): On the bed, Habu's (ph) cup and bowl are all that remain. His mother lives more than 100 miles away and is already returning home. She left Habu (ph) behind, buried in an unmarked grave somewhere on the outskirts of town. (on camera): Do you get used to seeing this?

TEKTONIDIS: Yes, there's two or three a day. So we know which ones are going to go. There are some surprises. Those are a bit harder.

You have to keep on going. You can't -- you can't stop for -- for one death.

The mothers understand. They don't expect you to show sympathy. They expect you to try your best.

If you cry in front of the mothers, what good is that? They just start worrying about their own kids. So if you start doing that in front of the mothers, they start, what's going to happen to my kid?

COOPER (voice-over): Tomorrow, it's likely Habu's (ph) bed will get filled. In Niger, in this terrible time, there's always another child fighting to stay alive.


COOPER: (on camera): Coming up, the perils of protecting wildlife. See what happened to Jeff Corwin at an animal rescue center in Cambodia.



COOPER: Visiting the mountain gorillas is probably one of the most incredible and 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.


COOPER: I met those mountain gorillas in Eastern Congo. They're extraordinary animals. There are only about 380 of them left and the local rangers working to protect them sometimes aren't paid for months. Still, they continue their jobs.

Whether it's the gorillas in the Congo or the lost dogs of Katrina, animals so often bear the brunt of human chaos. Sometimes it's an accident, but most often it seems animals are targets. Whether it's pure cruelty, greed or both, it's never a pleasant sight. We saw it all in Cambodia.


COOPER (voice-over): He's only about a year and a half old, but already this Asian elephant has seen a lifetime of pain.

One of his feet is missing, ripped off likely trying to escape a poacher's snare. A bloody stump is all that remains.

He's found sanctuary here at Cambodia's Phnom Tamal (ph) rescue center. They call him Chupe (ph). He arrived some two weeks ago and is still badly malnourished and in great pain.

Conservationists with the Wildlife Alliance are trying to save him, but his wounds are serious. He may not survive.

(on camera): Once a week, veterinarians here sedate this young elephant, they use this blowgun to shoot a dart into him. It's the only way they can safely treat his wounds.

(voice-over): It takes about 10 minutes for the sedative to take hold.

(on camera): And what are you doing now? You're peeling the skin off?

JEFF CORWIN, WILDLIFE BIOLIGIST: Basically just dressing the wound. And they have to do this every week, even if this wound is actually able to heal, the skin is able to overcome it. There's still serious issues with the joints, with the shoulder.

And again, this is a young animal. It only weighs about 500 pounds. What is its physical state going to be in three or four years when it's weighing thousands of pounds?

COOPER: They've just given him a shot to reverse the effects of the sedative. They've bandaged the wound, made sure it's tight so the elephant is not able to just rip off the bandage when he wakes up.

Now this -- because of the shot, he should wake up in about 10 minutes.

(voice-over): By the time Chupe (ph) comes to, he's clearly scared, but some fruit and affection calm him quickly.

A century ago, there were thousands of Asian elephants in this part of the world. Now, there are only hundreds. Elephants are social animals. Even those harmed by poachers or treated poorly can remain affectionate. And as we found out, they're curious towards people.

COOPER: They're smelling with it?

CORWIN: Absolutely. He's smelling you. They have an incredibly heightened sense of smell. Maybe he thinks -- you know, this is called the snap.

All you have to say is uncle.

COOPER (voice-over): There are dozens of species at Phnom Tamal (ph), all of them victims to the black-market animal trade or habitat loss.

These tigers were cubs when they were caught by a trafficker who tried to sell them on the black market.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wildlife trade is hugely cruel. And we see the results of it. And very, very badly injured animals, animals that have been in snares. We have to deal with that.

And it's run by very wealthy, very rich people. And it isn't poor, subsistence guys that we're hitting. It's big wealthy traders, and it's a huge, huge traffic.

CORWIN: No, no, no!

COOPER: As you can see, not everything goes as planned when you're working with animals.

At the end of the day, we helped bathe the elephants in a nearby pond. Despite their traumatic experiences, they are incredibly playful.

But as Jeff himself had warned me, they don't know their own strength. Take a look at what happens. Watch Jeff's left arm.

CORWIN: The numbers -- ow!

COOPER: One of the elephants gets a hold of Jeff's arm with his mouth. It happened so fast, but it could have been much worse.

CORWIN: Elephants, despite their good nature, forget how strong they are and play a little rough. My arm got twisted in there.

COOPER: Jeff was lucky. His arm is OK. The incident, though, is a reminder of the difficult position these animals are now in. Forced from their natural habitat, they're no longer wild, but they're certainly not tame. They've been separated from what they know and have to learn to survive in an ever shrinking world.


COOPER (on camera): Many of the stories we focused on tonight are covered more in depth in my book, "Dispatches from the Edge: A Memoir of War, Disasters and Survival." The new paperback version has just come out. It features a new chapter with some of the more recent stories we've covered.

Thanks for watching this 360 special. Good night.