Nightline Congo Series, Part 1

At first glance, everyone looks healthy enough, but take a look inside this tent. The children are all malnourished. A private donor has just made a food delivery, but the United Nations won’t resupply this village because it’s not an established refugee camp. It’s important to remember the inside of this tent when you look at the outside of the village.

The Congo is beautiful, spectacularly so, but every beautiful thing you see seems to have a dark side. The rangers at the Kahuzi Biega National Park did well with our digital camera. They found one of the gorilla families they’ve been tracking. And our amateur cameraman, with only 15 minutes worth of training, brought back this extraordinary video. They are magnificent, and they are being killed off at an alarming rate. It is a genuine ecological tragedy. But you are looking at these gorillas with one set of eyes and a full stomach. To the hundreds of thousands of starving refugees surrounding this national park, to people desperate to feed their families, the gorillas are just food.

Back with a closing thought in a moment.

(Commercial break)

TED KOPPEL (VO) The guns, the knives, the machetes, they did their dirty business here and continue to do so. But the worst killers in a war let you walk up right next to them. They can glisten and sparkle and lap up gently at your feet like Lake Kivu back there, one of the largest freshwater lakes in Central Africa, salvation, so it must have seemed to the hundreds of thousands of parched refugees who have camped at its shores these last few years. But it’s a cesspool, literally. Thousands of tons of human waste have been dumped in this lake. The hot sun has effectively turned the outer rim of Lake Kivu into a Petri dish for cholera. Here’s one of your mass killers: The war drove the victims here; the lake has finished many of them off. Beautiful, isn’t it?

That’s our report for tonight. I’m Ted Koppel in Bukavu. For all of us here at ABCNEWS, good night.

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