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World Attention Focused on Somalia's Young
CNN, September 29, 1992


HILARY BOWKER, Anchor: Audrey Hepburn recently returned from a tour of Somalia as goodwill ambassador for the United Nations Children's Fund, or UNICEF. Earlier today, here in London, she talked to CNN about what she saw.

AUDREY HEPBURN, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador: I thought I was prepared because I too have seen television and read the articles and seen the photographs, but nothing can prepare you for reality. What, what - is basically an abstraction when you see it on the written page, on the printed page becomes horrifying reality. Flying in to - to Somalia and just seeing hundreds and hundreds of graves around every settlement around, every village. Along the roads, dead animals, walking phantoms - and children who are only just alive in many cases, and I sort of marveled at the fact that they are. Too many people dying. The irony is that now the rains have come which, of course, the country needs, but the death toll has doubled because they are not properly housed, they have little shacks made of two or three twigs, we've flown in a lot of tarpaulin, but it - we don't have enough, so children are being snuffed out now by the wet and cold. And as you probably realize, few people die just of starvation, and that's true, but children usually die because of chills, because of coughs, measles - and yet, because they're so frail, they just disappear slowly.

 BOWKER: The world's attention has been focused now on Somalia for several months, and aid has been getting through. Is it enough?

Ms. HEPBURN: No. We need much, much more, but I don't want to discourage people by saying that because they are being very generous, the governments are being very generous, and things are getting better, and reaching people, because, as you know, there's total anarchy in that it's a country without a government, without any kind of infrastructure, barely in ruins, having had four years of the most atrocious civil war. That - it's a little bit better, but we need a lot, lot more, we need funds, we have the organization and the ways to get it there, but everybody needs funds, not just UNICEF, so does the Red Cross and CARE and all the other agencies.

BOWKER: You mentioned that you don't want to discourage people, has there been a problem, do you think, of compassion fatigue?

Ms. HEPBURN: I don't believe in compassion fatigue, I think every human being is filled with compassion. They are fatigued, just as a mother with too many children who must take care of them when they're sick, you become very tired. I don't think - if somebody can give, if they know the situation, would ever not give, I don't believe it exists.

BOWKER: Audrey Hepburn was talking to CNN about her recent trip to Somalia as goodwill ambassador for UNICEF.



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