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Pakistan Floods; 33 Miners Trapped Underground

Aired August 23, 2010 - 16:00:00   ET



SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Six-month-old Kalsu (ph) won't stop crying.


BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Not enough space, not enough doctors, not enough beds -- Pakistan one month in and still not enough help. Well, it's triggering sorrow and outrage from New York to the U.K., where one top aid boss says British generosity is shaming the world's politicians.

On CNN, this is the hour we connect the world.

The UN, the WHO, countless aid organizations are all pleading for us to help Pakistan's flood victims. But we seem to be holding back. And tonight, we're looking at the consequences for the most vulnerable.

I'm Becky Anderson in London.

Also coming up this hour, a remarkable story of survival -- 33 miners feared dead deep underground are alive but with their ultimate rescue possibly months away. And experts speak to you tonight on their chances of survival.

And back by popular demand, Tony Blair answers your questions as we relive a popular Connector of the Day.

And do remember you can connect with the program online via Twitter. My personal address is atbeckycnn. Do log on and join in the conversation.

Well, we begin tonight at a hospital in Pakistan, where the sounds of children crying never stops.

Sara Sidner has this story on some of the most fragile victims of the devastating flooding. And just a warning, some of these images may be difficult to watch.


SIDNER (voice-over): Six-month-old Kalsu (ph) won't stop crying. His mother is beside herself after rushing her child to the hospital from the flood relief camp.

"I'm like a rolling stone, going here and there. My life is over. I have lost everything," she says. "And now, I'm at the mercy of others and the government."

At this government hospital, nurses rush to give Kalsu an IV drip to rehydrate him. His tiny body is now wracked with diarrhea and fever. He's one of hundreds of young but sick survivors of the flood in Pakistan's Punjab Province.

(on camera): In the Punjab Province, this is the closest children's hospital to the flood zones. There are about 200 sick babies and children who come into this ward daily, but there are only 25 beds. So three or four children have to share a bed.

(voice-over): Others are outside in what looks like a long table top.

(on camera): It sounds like it's overwhelming with 200 patients.

DR. AMMARA IJAZ, MULTAN CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL: It is. It is. Two hundred plus patients we're dealing with in 24 hours. And in 24 hours, this is a huge amount of patients to deal with.

SIDNER (voice-over): Overwhelmed is an understatement. This hospital is the only one dedicated to children for an area populated with an estimated 40 million people. As Dr. Ammara Ijaz rushes around, trying to keep up with the wave of flood victims, there's an urgent call about one of her regular patients. A newborn has stopped breathing. Her team is trying everything on this tiny 2-month-old Fahsan (ph). They manage to keep him alive, but they don't know for how long.

There is no time to mentally process and separate each patient here. Instead, the medical team goes right back to the other 200 young patients crying out for help.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are using our own resources to deal with the patients.

SIDNER (on camera): But you don't have enough to save them.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We don't have enough -- we don't have enough space, we don't have enough doctors, we don't have enough medicines.

SIDNER (voice-over): If doctors here have to keep up this pace with no additional funding, they say they'll completely run out of everything for these tiny little patients in about three months.

Sara Sidner, CNN, Multan, Pakistan.


ANDERSON: Well, a massive economic challenge -- that is the International Monetary Fund's assessment as it meets Pakistani officials in Washington. The IMF will be taking a closer look at the country's balance sheet to decide just how it can best help. Now, millions of people have been affected by the floods. And UNICEF's director of emergency operations, Louis-George Arsenault, says that the lack of global response has been extraordinary.


LOUIS-GEORGE ARSENAULT, DIRECTOR OF EMERGENCY OPERATIONS, UNICEF: One fifth of the Pakistani population is affected by this -- by this catastrophe, which -- we are talking about a huge number. But there's nothing -- I really think that we need to be -- to be fair in saying that we can do better. We have been doing OK. We can do much better. And we're going to have to -- to be there for a long time. And I suppose to, perhaps, some instances in the past with the -- with the Pakistani government, I believe that this time, the Pakistani government is recognizing that this is something that is beyond their realm of capacity. They welcome very much international help. And this is very positive. And we -- we need to do respond to this.


ANDERSON: All right, well, here's a look at the aid situation for you as it stands at present. The United Nations says about $200 million is still needed to help flood victims with food, shelter and medical needs. Well, so far, the U.S. is the biggest single donor. It's given about $100 million and is pledging another $60 million. Saudi Arabia has contributed more than $74 million. It's pledging another $40 million. And the United Kingdom has sent more than $64 million and it's pledging another $43 million or so.

So let's break down the international aid figures for you another way. More than 20 million lives have been disrupted by the raging floodwaters in Pakistan. According to the latest United Nations ARCHER (ph) figures, the grand total of international donations is about $500 million. Well, do the math. That works out at $25.18 in aid assistance per flood victim. Well, those numbers are shockingly low compared to the sort of aid received per person for past disasters.

Here in London, a top aid official says the UK's public generosity is shaming politicians around the world. Britain's main emergency appeal has now raised $45 million in addition to the government's $100 million relief fund.

Well, I spoke to the UK's secretary of state for international development, Andrew Mitchell, earlier.

I asked him what he believes was holding up the help that Pakistan so desperately needs.


ANDREW MITCHELL, U.K. SECRETARY OF STATE FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT: This is a disaster which has unfolded in its terrible horrific intensify over quite a long period of time and the international community has been slow to recognize the full scale and extent of it. But there's no excuse for that any longer. I went straight from Pakistan on Thursday to U.N. General Assembly to really support strongly the secretary-general's appeal and to say that the contribution of the international community, thus far, has been woefully inadequate and we -- we hope now that, through the significant support announced over the weekend, that is being put right.

ANDERSON: Is the right aid getting to the right people in the right places at the moment?

Lots of criticism, for example, that aid is getting to certain areas, but when it gets there, there's no, for example, baby milk for the kids, who are amongst the most vulnerable.

How do you -- how do you right those wrongs?

MITCHELL: Well, we are very clear that British aid is being properly administered and is getting through to people who really need it. You're right to put your finger on the issue of nutrition, not only for young children, but also for mothers who are either about to have a baby or have just had a baby.

And that is why Britain has specifically targeted those very vulnerable elements within the population affected by flooding and sent specific nutritional support for 360,000 pregnant or recently pregnant mothers and 16t0,000 children.

So you're -- you're quite right about the importance of getting through to very vulnerable communities who have different needs. And that is precisely what we're doing on the ground.

ANDERSON: Do you accept that David Cameron, the British prime minister's remarks, just days before the floods, that Pakistan looks both ways on terrorism hurt the image of the country and might have added to donor apathy?

MITCHELL: No, I don't. First of all, the prime minister had a very good meeting with President Zardari when he was in the country. They both agreed on the importance of prioritizing relief for the flooding. That was one of the outputs from that meeting. And all the indications are that Britain has been among the most generous of countries, as -- as British people always are in these awful crises, in helping the people in Pakistan. So there's no indication of that at all.


ANDERSON: The UK's man on international aid.

Well, we've seen the impact on its youngest victims.

Let's take a closer look, shall we, at the medical emergency in Pakistan.

Joining me now from Islamabad is Dr. Guido Sabatinelli from the World Health Organization.

Sir, we've got a lot to get to, so keep your answers fairly tight if you can.

What are the most immediate concerns for you at this point?

DR. GUIDO SABATINELLI, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: The immediate concern is that we have to protect about seven million people from the main killer, communicable disease -- the measles, diarrhea and malaria. And we have to act very fast.

ANDERSON: Yes, many of these are kids and elderly people.

How are you getting medicine to people at this point?

SABATINELLI: Up to now, we deployed the drugs to cover the needs for two million people we have still on stock for -- drugs for other four million people for the next three months. But this is a -- is clearly a small quantity compared to the need -- the huge need of this population.

ANDERSON: And this...

SABATINELLI: It's not only drugs, but it's also the growing medical teams...


SABATINELLI: -- and operating in very difficult conditions.

ANDERSON: And this could go on for months and months and months, even when the waters recede.

In Sara Sidner's report, she noted that the hospital that she was in was the only one dedicated to children for an area populated with an estimated 40 million people.

So with a situation like that, how do you sustain the administration of aid?

SABATINELLI: We are already talking about 17 million people. So the -- this is a slowing -- growing emergency. It's not finished. Still, there are an area that is expanding in the floods. So additional population.

The -- the efforts is on the emergency now, but we have also to rehabilitate the health centers, because we did there need (INAUDIBLE) population, there is also the complete destruction of all health infrastructure. So there are no other possibilities for access secure for these -- for 70 million of people.

ANDERSON: And let's talk about the longest term medical threats facing the country at this point. We've heard about the sort of water- borne diseases that are such an immediate threat to the most vulnerable.

What about the -- the longer-term medical effects of these -- these floods?

SABATINELLI: No, this is just the beginning. The diarrheal diseases that are linked to the poor living conditions and the lack of sanitation access to potable water. This is just the beginning. So we are expecting up to 1.5 million cases of the diarrheal diseases. Some of them can be acute (INAUDIBLE) diarrhea and also can be cholera. As you know, the cholera is endemic in this area.

But in the next months, when the water receded, we have the appearance of -- of the mosquitoes, the large density of a mosquito population that the country is making this area -- malaria, dengue favor -- and dengue moraji (ph) fever that are also very deadly in this area.

ANDERSON: You've seen the pictures and you've heard the WHO's man in Pakistan with what is a very distressing picture of what is going on there in that state.

We thank you, sir, very much, indeed, for joining us here on CONNECT THE WORLD this evening.

The hostage crisis that unfolded live on international television comes to a tragic end.

Could Philippine police have done anything differently to avoid the bloodshed?

We're going to take a look at what happened to a bus load of tourists from Hong Kong. That next.


ANDERSON: We're back here with CONNECT THE WORLD here on CNN, joining the dots for you on the day's best stories.

Hong Kong is urging its tourists to avoid the Philippines after a deadly hostage siege in Manila. A former police officer upset with losing his job hijacked a bus load of visitors from Hong Kong on Monday. The gunman held police at bay for hours. But authorities say they were forced to storm the bus when he began shooting.

Well, when it was all over, eight hostages and the gunman, sadly, were dead. The drama was broadcast on live TV.

Here's a look at how it unfolded.


PIA HONTIVEROS, ABS-CBN CORRESPONDENT: Authorities in Manila say Rolando Mendoza is demanding his job back. He was sacked last year for misconduct. Sharpshooters have the bus surrounded. Police have not yet given up on negotiations. They say the use of force is a last resort.

And he was threatening to have -- to start the eliminating hostages and soon after that, that's when we heard several gunshots. But, of course -- you know, I'm so sorry, I cannot say for sure where those gunshots were coming from and what exactly is going on.

We all know the curtains of the bus were drawn. It sounded really like it came from the bus -- from inside the bus.

He was speaking to -- actually, right in the interview (INAUDIBLE) radio station (INAUDIBLE) Mendoza and then -- I can't confirm anything other than that it was a bus driver who escaped outside the driver's window. He -- he raced straight past us. And there is a media pack to my right that has surrounded him and obviously are trying to -- to get comment.

Cameron Scott is -- is just zooming in on that at the moment and our Fixa Alene (ph) is there trying to get information. But he has been on board that bus since 10:00 a.m. this morning local time. It is now half past 7:00.


HONTIVEROS: Yes, I can. I can. I can. Let's go. Let's go.

Christine, can you hear me?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Fourteen. The elite force of the police (INAUDIBLE).

They're using the matrons (ph).

HONTIVEROS: OK, Christine, I don't know whether you can hear me, but I'm sure you're looking at live pictures now of the SWAT team smashing the window. Now, we have some -- some distressing news. The bus driver who escaped a short time ago was supposed to have exchanged gunshots were taking place. He ran outside. He ran past the media. The media surrounded him and he said that everybody is dead in Tagalog. That is exactly what he said, "Everybody is dead."

We cannot confirm that, Christine. We cannot confirm that, I must stress. But that is what the bus driver told...

Twenty-five people were on board this bus earlier today. Twenty-one of those Hong Kong nationals, the other four members (INAUDIBLE) the bus driver. More gunshots. More gunshots.


ANDERSON: Well, thankfully, there were some survivors on that bus. At least one of those is criticizing the way that Philippines' authorities handled the crisis.

So was there something more that they could have done to protect those hostages?

Well, let's bring in Chris Voss, who is a former hostage negotiator for the FBI.

I want to run the footage for our viewers again and get you to talk us through what unfolded. Once the driver of that bus had made his escape, we saw, as Anna Coren, our reporter there, describes, the SWAT team move in, Chris, and start beating out the windows with -- with what looked like huge clubs.

Talk us through what you saw and whether -- or how you felt the -- the Philippines' authorities did in this situation.

CHRIS VOSS, CEO, THE BLACK SWAN GROUP: Well, I -- I don't know what kind of an assault plan they had at that moment. That -- that's the hard part. There's two things that's difficult to tell here, exactly what their emergency assault plan was and what the status of -- was the negotiations between the hostage negotiators and our -- and our hostage taker here.

When a bus driver comes running off a bus like that and says everyone is dead or everyone's been killed, the difficult position that law enforcement is in is they have to take what he says at face value, at the same time realizing that he -- you've got a hostage taker who's orchestrating a situation here and he may have sent the bus driver off to go running to the authorities in order to trigger an assault.

There's a lot of things about this that look like a suicide by cop, which puts law enforcement in a very difficult, almost a no win position.

ANDERSON: What, in your experience, what might they have done that they didn't do?

VOSS: Well, if -- if they've got the earmarks of a suicide by cop, which this looks very much like -- and in -- in those types of cases, you have to go in and kill the hostage taker. And if you don't -- because that's what he wants -- then he will kill hostages until you do. You've got to find a way to lure the hostage taker off of the bus. You've got to come up with some sort of a reason. It would be the only time that negotiators could lie to a hostage taker. They've got to get a reason to get him out of that bus in order to try to assaulting him out in the open, because a bus assault -- what's known as a cylinder assault -- which is no different or very similar, in many ways, to an airplane or a train -- is an extremely dangerous thing to do.

It's very difficult to go in there in an emergency assault without a great loss of life on both sides.

ANDERSON: This is an event that unfolded on live TV and -- and we could only have seen that is something that the hostage taker wanted, given that he spent quite a lot of time before the pictures that we saw encouraging negotiation through the media -- the exchange of -- of media -- of broadcast media character in the Philippines was actually brought in to help negotiate.

Did it surprise you that -- that that was what he wanted, that he wanted this sort of full frontal assault, as it were, in -- in front of the eyes of the world?

VOSS: No, it's not surprising. He -- this is a selected location. You -- he's not oblivious to the fact that if he takes hostages on a bus, that the authorities are going to respond with a lot of force and it's going to get the media's attention, as well.

So all of these things a hostage taker knows ahead of time and is going to try to exploit them. He's clearly very angry at the government. He's very angry at the police. And he wants the media there so he can embarrass the police.

So he's slowly orchestrating this entire situation to, quite possibly, some premeditated end, what sometimes we refer to as a killing journey. And the difficulty for law enforcement response at that point in time is how do you disrupt a killing journey or how do you change the ultimate destination?

And it's -- and when it plays out in a situation like this, if you -- if you haven't dealt with these types of situations before, it's very hard.

ANDERSON: Chris, we do appreciate your thoughts and your -- your expert analysis tonight.

Thank you very much, indeed, for joining us here on CONNECT THE WORLD.

Well, after the break, setting the eels in motion -- we're going to take a look at why scientists in the U.S. hope that the slippery creatures will be the key to helping the paralyzed walk again. Find out all about that in just a moment.


ANDERSON: Well, if you were with us last week, you will know that we are taking a journey around the world. We're only half way through, tonight seeing what we can learn from nature to improve our own lives.

And tonight, it's about robotics of a different kind, blended with biology.

The lamprey eel may seem like a primitive vertebrae, but it has one similarity to humans that has got scientists in the U.S. very excited.

We're going to take a look at this cutting edge research that may one day help the paralyzed walk again.


DR. DREW SIEBERT: We -- I did a hike along the Inca Trail up to Machu Picchu. If anyone can see Machu Picchu in their lifetime, if they have the opportunity, they should do it.

ANDERSON: (voice-over): Three months after his trip to Peru, Dr. Drew Siebert's life changed forever.

SIEBERT: Somehow, I fell forward, hit my forehead on the edge of a shower. My body kept going through my neck back and broke some vertebrae in my neck. I woke up from my coma three days later and was on a ventilator and I was paralyzed from the neck on down completely, just lying there.

ANDERSON: Seibert's been rehabilitating here, at the Shepherd Center, in Atlanta, Georgia, for three years. He's made great progress, but continues to hope for a scientific breakthrough.

Dr. Avis Cohen and Dr. Ralph Etienne-Cummings may just have Siebert's answer. They've teamed up to combine nature and technology.

DR. AVIS COHEN, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND: We just got in a shipment of larval lampreys, 110 little guys.

ANDERSON: Cohen is a biologist who's been studying the spinal cords of lees.

COHEN: In the lamprey, we can -- we can test devices to control the spinal cord below a lesion site and design those devices, which can then be transported to mammalian animals and into humans as a means of controlling the spinal cord of a human that has had a spinal cord injury.

The reason that the lamprey is a model system is because even though it's very primitive, being at the bottom of the vertebrae tree, it is a complete vertebrate. It has all of the features that your spinal cord has and -- and your nervous system has, only it's much simpler.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So in here, I have the spinal cord of a lamprey that I dissected out from yesterday. What I've done is I've placed it in the bath. And what that does is it activates the neurons in the spinal cord and they produce the same pattern that they would when the animal is swimming. So what you're hearing right now is a recording of one of those nerves.

DR. RALPH ETIENNE-CUMMINGS, JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY: So what we have here is inside of this box, we have a silicon model of the spinal cord that you guys saw a little bit earlier on. And what that means is that we have a piece of -- a piece of silicon which is fabricated in the same foundry that you fabricate your Pentium chips, but instead of making logic (INAUDIBLE) here, we are making mimics of biological circuits.

ANDERSON: The chip has already been successful in instructing robots to walk. The chip still needs to be tested on larger mammals before it would be ready for human trials and that is out looked for 10 to 15 years down tonight road.

COHEN: I think that within my lifetime, I could see that -- that we could have it. And certainly within the lifetime of my grandchildren.

We need to have something for all these young men. I mean they want to be able to walk and they want to be able to get out of their wheelchairs and walk. And this device could give them that potential.

SIEBERT: If they could get me up walking, that would be fine with me. I don't care how pretty it looks. You know, it's -- if I can get from here to there on my own power and not have to have people assist me, that's fantastic.


ANDERSON: Science and nature working hand in hand. And the U.S. doctors developing a special microchip based on an eels' nerve circuitry, which may one day help a paralyzed person walk again.

And tomorrow, we're here in Britain, where architects are using nature's blueprint as inspiration. We take a look at how biomimicry is transforming the world of structural design. That is in our next Earth's Frontiers special, this time tomorrow here on CONNECT THE WORLD.

Well, after days of fading hopes, one handwritten note stuns a nation -- and, it's got to be said, the world. Dozens of miners trapped underground for weeks send word that they are still alive. But their ordeal is far from over. That story out of Chile here and the rest of the day's headlines straight ahead.


ANDERSON: This is CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Becky Anderson in London for you. Coming up in the next 30 minutes, a small scribbled note. Proof that 33 miners missing in Chile are alive. They've already been trapped underground for almost three weeks, and it could take another four months to free them.

More on that story, plus migrants' money. We're going to explore the economic impact of workers earning wages in one country, and sending them elsewhere to be sent -- spent, sorry.

And a matter of faith. We ask Tony Blair how he reconciles his religion with his involvement in the Iraq war. The former British prime minister is your Connector of the Day today. All those stories ahead. First, let me get you a quick check of the headlines this hour.

The United Nations says it's received about 70 percent of its emergency appeals for Pakistan's flood disaster. It says contributions and pledges for the flood-stricken country now total more than $317 million.

Some nine months after allegations surfaced that golf star Tiger Woods had multiple extramarital affairs, his marriage is officially over. Attorneys released a statement saying the divorce has been finalized, and the judgment allows for shared parenting of their two children.

Police in the Philippines say they had no choice but to storm a bus that had been hijacked in Manila after the gunman onboard had started shooting. Eight tourists from Hong Kong were killed in the siege, along with the gunman. Authorities say he was a former police officer upset over losing his job.

Rescue workers in Chile are packing tubes with food and supplies to sustain 33 miners who are trapped underground. Officials say it could take up to four months to drill an escape shaft. The miners sent up a note Sunday saying, quote, "We are fine."

Coal mining is one of the worst -- world's most dangerous professions. Here are some of the worst recent mining disasters for you. Just a few months ago in West Virginia, 29 miners were killed in an explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine.

In March of 2007, a methane explosion killed 110 miners in the Kemerovo region of Russia.

September 2006, 41 people killed in a mine disaster in Kazakhstan. Also in September of '06, an explosion caused a mine roof to collapse in Jharkhand in India. 50 miners there, sadly, lost their lives.

And in February 2005, 214 miners were killed in a gas explosion at a mine in northeastern China.

Rescue operations after those types of mining accidents are extremely difficult. And as we're seeing right now in Chile, they can take a very long time. Our next guest is a former US assistant secretary for mine safety and health. Davitt McAteer is now trying to help coordinate an international response to the disaster in Chile.

And we'll talk about that, but firstly, just how surprised are you that these guys are actually still alive?

DAVITT MCATEER, MINE SAFETY EXPERT: You have to say it's miraculous that the miners survived for 18 days and that all of them survived. It's just remarkable. It's quite unheard of in -- around the world in mine rescue efforts.

ANDERSON: They are a resilient lot, miners, it will be said, and it's said by many experts. What are the chances of survival if the rescue attempts take as much as four months, as some people say?

MCATEER: I think that's a -- that's a concern, because the fact that the miners are alive after this, we don't know their condition just yet. But we do -- if the rescue efforts take four months, that puts them at risk for an awfully long period of time.

And I think it's important for us in the mining community around the world to try to make every effort to expedite that so that we're looking at weeks rather than months for the rescue. Because, while we are very buoyed up and encouraged by the fact that they have been found safely and seem to be all sound, things can go wrong in that -- in any period of time. And the longer the time goes, the more danger and the more risk they face.

ANDERSON: Yes. Describe what they will be experiencing at this point.

MCATEER: You have to remember, it will be dark now. It's black, it'll be underground. They're in a shelter, and that's a confined space, it's a small space. They have to be concerned about the roof and the conditions outside that shelter.

And they would no doubt be euphoric at this point because of the fact that they've heard from the outside world. That euphoria would last several days, but then it would be, "We want to go home." And there will be psychological problems as well as problems if one miner gets sick or gets ill. How do we treat that, how's that treated?

The fact that they're going to be able to get food and supplies down to them, I think, is a very, very positive thing.

ANDERSON: Yes. And let's talk about that. What sort of equipment are they using at the moment, and what do they need? You've been to this area, I know.

MCATEER: We've been -- I've been to this area, it's quite a remote area. But they need food, they need water, they need something to distract their attention as well. And I think that's a new era for us, in the days of modern technology, and perhaps we can get video down to them, television down to them. We can get some other things down to them that will help pass the time as they wait for rescue.

ANDERSON: Fascinating stuff. We thank you for joining us this evening. Amazing story.

Nearly 200 million people live outside their country of birth. Many of them moved to make money -- more money. Now the World Bank says that migrant workers are wiring more of their income back home than ever before. You may be one of them. We're going to follow the money trails and explore the economic impact of that money after this.


ANDERSON: In this global business age, money earned in one country often ends up in another. Well, that's nothing new, is it? But now it seems that migrant workers are sending more money than ever back home. World Bank predicts that remittances of transfers alone will grow more than six percent this year.

Last year, $316 billion was sent back to developing countries. That's a third of a trillion. India received the most of that cash. Remittances there totaled $49 billion, followed by China with $48 billion, and Mexico with $22 billion. The Philippines received $20 billion.

Among the overseas Filipino workers are many domestic helpers in Hong Kong. We focus on their stories, now, through the eyes of documentary photographer Rick Rocamora.


RICK ROCAMORA, DOCUMENTARY PHOTOGRAPHER: There's about 100,000 domestic helpers in Hong Kong, and most of them, they all have one day off for the week, which is Sunday. Since they don't have relatives or anybody to go and visit during weekends, all of them, practically, those who are free, go take the metro and go to the central park district.

And they converse there, they bring food, they bring stuff that they would like to send to their family back in the Philippines. They also connect with old friends, new acquaintances. The practice in Hong Kong is that one person brings a dough bowl, one person brings rice, one person brings something else to share.

There's always the comfort of seeing your old friends, and if you're living in another country, just being around the people you share the same values, the same customs, makes you feel good. Makes you comfortable. In this particular picture, you see the three girls sharing a notebook to communicate with their relatives while the two on the side are eating their favorite food.

They work six days a week, and usually, in some families, I was told, they get up early in the morning to cook breakfast, prepare the kids to go to school, prepare the house, clean the house, do the laundry, everything. And when the employer arrives, they have to cook, they have to prepare. And they usually go to bed very late. So their weekend, their single day off, which is a Sunday, instead of spending time having fun time with their friends, they are using that to sleep and to rest.

But over the years since I've switched careers, I've started documenting the life of overseas Filipino workers. So every opportunity I can get, I try to find them. I usually introduce myself as somebody from California visiting Hong Kong and trying to tell them that my responsibility is to document their life overseas. And part of the reason for that is that I'd like to make sure that their sacrifices are remembered.

So, there's about almost three million Filipinos working overseas, and they remit about $18 billion to the country ever year. I am Rick Rocamora, a documentary photographer based in San Francisco, California.


ANDERSON: A snapshot of the downtime for many Filipinos working in Hong Kong.

The impact of remittances can be felt both where the money is earned and where it's sent and spent. Let's bring in Demetrios Papademetriou for a little discussion about the economic impact of all of this. He's the chair of the World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Council on Migration. Joins me tonight from Washington.

The jump this year in remittances, when it seems it was because there was a significant dip during the beginning of the global recession. Am I right in saying that?

DEMETRIOS PAPADEMETRIOU, CHAIR, WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM GLOBAL AGENDA COUNCIL ON MIGRATION: Yes, you are. In 19 -- in 2008, we had $336 billion, which dropped by about six percent in 2009. And as you said earlier, the World Bank projects that to grow by about six percent next year, by an additional seven percent the year after that.

ANDERSON: We've seen Filipinos working Hong Kong who will be sending money home. Spin the globe for me, though, Demetrios, on this story. Where are we seeing a strong and steady increase in outward remittances, as we call them, or transfers?

PAPADEMETRIOU: The last couple of years, the largest increase has been in India and in China. In fact, those two giants, as your chart showed earlier, account for about a third of the total.

But in other parts of the world, particularly in the parts where -- the Gulf states, the United States, and parts of Europe, we actually have seen a significant drop. Sometimes a dramatic drop of remittances. To take an extreme example, for a period of time in 2009, remittances to Romania were down by 60 percent. Remittances to Poland by well over 20 percent. Remittances to --


ANDERSON: All right, OK --


ANDERSON: I get what you're saying. So these are inward remittances. So we're not saying particularly where they're coming from, but this is where they're going to. Is it fair to say that in some parts of the world, a growing reliance on transfer actually insulates a weak government from their domestic fiscal responsibilities?

PAPADEMETRIOU: Certainly, this has been an accusation. Sort of the - - about remittances more general, and migration, that somehow by providing a safety valve through emigration, and by providing the additional income through remittances, it sort of -- let's say, makes reforms take a more -- a slower pace. It may or may not be so.

Certainly, what we know is that remittances make an enormous difference, not only for the household from which the remitter has come, but more broadly than that.

And the major thing that countries are focusing on, particularly countries with very large emigrants, is on diaspora . They have discovered that these are people who have money, and even if they remit a little bit at a time, because remittances tend to be sort of small amounts at a time, it can make a very large difference.

ANDERSON: There are downsides, aren't there? Things like real estate bubbles, for example. It's money made, for example, come from Bangladeshi worker in Dubai, sends the money home, you see an asset price spike, effectively, which can't be particularly good medium- to long-term for a country, whether it's relying on these transfers or not.

PAPADEMETRIOU: That's quite right. It's not only that, but also it leads to the importation of goods, because some of the housing that has been built tends to have facilities and tends to have products that have to be imported.

But again, we need to remind that remittances have been earned by the people who remit, so they should do whatever they want to do with their money. And, unlike the way that we thought of it in the past, they do have an effect that goes beyond the household. And despite the fact that we have seen a significant drop, at least last year, remittances generally have proven to be quite resilient.

ANDERSON: Fascinating stuff. We thank you very much, indeed, for joining us. You're absolutely right. If you want to buy a house at home, you buy a house, send your money home, and buy that property.

Faith can both unite and divide, can't it? Special envoy to the Middle East, Tony Blair, is very aware of that. Up next, he tells us how his own religious beliefs motivate his work, trying to bring peace to that region. Your Connector of the Day is on the other side of this break.



ANDERSON (voice-over): In 1997, Tony Blair was the trendy and articulate prime minister who was bringing Labor back to Downing Street. He caught the popular mood of Britain at the time.


ANDERSON (voice-over): But his support of the Iraq war and other choices that he made, made for a controversial reign, and he eventually stepped down in 2007, clearing the way for Gordon Brown to become prime minister.

But since leaving Downing Street, Blair has been anything but in the background. He's been a prominent figure in the Middle East negotiations and serves as an envoy in the region. He's also launched a series of charitable foundations, including the Tony Blair Faith Foundation. And this week, the organization hosted a global competition to encourage young people around the world to express their faith through film.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE SPEAKER: Every Muslim has their own in their home.

ANDERSON (voice-over): The subject is particularly important to Blair, who converted to Catholicism in 2007. Always making headlines, Tony Blair is your Connector of the Day.


ANDERSON: Well, that was a young Tony Blair that you've just seen. When it comes to our Connectors of the Day, we've had everyone from former prime ministers to Oscar winners. Even the founder of the Playboy dynasty for you.

Well now, we're giving you the chance to relive some of your favorite moments. Ochuko Toweh from London took us up on that offer, requesting our interview with the former British prime minister again, when I spoke to Mr. Blair last month about his faith foundation and began by asking about some of the entries into his recent Faith Shorts 2010 film competition. This is what he said.


TONY BLAIR, FORMER BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I think the thing that surprised me was the degree to which, actually, most of the people submitting the films, even the ones that haven't won, really think about their faith now, in the context of other people of different faiths.

People mix with people of different faiths the whole thing. But if you take any workplace today, people will sit next to, work with Muslims, Hindus, Christians, Jews, Buddhists. It's a different type of world we live in. I was, I think, probably 16, 17 before I was aware of other faiths. I was actually 12 before I met my first black person. It's an extraordinary thing to think of now.

So, the world we live in today thrusts people together. The question is, will religion pull them apart or give them a purpose in life?

ANDERSON: How big a role does faith play in your life, Tony?

BLAIR: I think if you ask someone of faith, then it's the single most dominant purpose. It's what gets you up in the morning, it's what keeps you motivated.

ANDERSON: Norma asks how changing from being an Anglican to Catholicism made a difference in your life.

BLAIR: For me, that was really a very personal thing about coming home, in a sense. Because my family, my wife is Catholic, my kids were brought up as Catholic, I used to go to mass but not take communion, so it made sense for me to be part of the church where I feel at home, frankly.

But whether Anglican or Catholic, I still think it's fascinating, interesting, and important to know about people of different faiths. And some of the films actually show how many faiths have some of the same basic concepts about love your neighbor, about justice. So there's a lot that brings them together.

ANDERSON: I wonder whether any of the films answers a question that Keira has here. She says, "What do you say to those who say that religion causes more problems and divisiveness than it does solutions?"

BLAIR: Well, it's a really good question. And my answer is, one -- whether it does or it doesn't, understanding religion is a really important part of understanding the modern world. We in Europe may be becoming less religious. In many parts of the world, they're becoming more religious. So you have to understand it.

And secondly, yes, religion causes a lot of conflict, a lot of division, a lot of bad things. But actually, it also causes a lot of good things. It causes people to do good works, good acts for other people. And if you think of healthcare today in Africa, in the poorest parts of Africa, around half is actually delivered by religious organizations.

So, it's a good, good question. Yes, religion can be a negative. They point that we're trying to make through the foundation is that faith also inspires people to do things that are marvelous and positive.

ANDERSON: Smudge has got a question for you, eluding to your role as an envoy in the Middle East, and asks how you use your faith to try and better the situation there, if at all.

BLAIR: I do see a very big link, actually, between the Faith Foundation and what I'm trying to do in the Middle East. I know that people say it's not about religion, it's about territory and politics. But actually, it is, in a way, about a state that's predominantly Jewish living next-door to a state that's predominantly Muslim. How can you make that happen, and how can you do that in a way that gets people understanding each other, not fearing each other, not sensing their difference as a reason for conflict. And, of course, Jerusalem matters enormously to all three Abrahamic faiths.

ANDERSON: An interesting question from Greg. He says, "Without the non-religious people of the world arrogantly trying to convert the religious, do you think the likes of Richard Dawkins can actually have some input in the promotion of religious global understanding?"

BLAIR: I think one of the things that people of faith should never be afraid of doing is debating with people who are against it, who say it's all rubbish, and religion's basically a bad thing. And I think we should have sufficient confidence in our spiritual commitment to be able to argue that case.

And I think that when people like Richard Dawkins raise these arguments, actually, it's helpful in a way. Because it forces us to respond.

ANDERSON: Lizzie has written to us and says, "How do you reconcile your faith with your actions in a Muslim country, like Iraq?"

BLAIR: Well, I would do that by saying that, actually, we got rid of someone who was brutally oppressing many Muslims inside his own country and gave the country a chance -- a Muslim country to elect its own government. So I would say that the oppression is those people who commit acts of terrorism now. Not our soldiers or American soldiers or any other soldiers who are trying to help them.

ANDERSON: Last question to you. Eugene asking, "Knowing what you do now, and given the work that you're doing with your charitable foundations like this one, do you feel a desire to being a rock and roll musician?"


BLAIR: No, I'm afraid I -- I had to give that up a long, long time ago. Basically, when I was about 20 and realized that whatever else I was good at, rock and roll I wasn't.


ANDERSON: Tony Blair, Ringo Starr, Bill Gates, Shakira. Just a few of the big names who've been connected here on CNN. So who do you want to hear from again? Head to the website, have your say, and we'll bring your our best interviews all this week. And don't forget to tell us where you're writing in from. We love that. Tonight, we'll be right back.


ANDERSON: Innovation and invention in your World in Pictures tonight. First through the lens, the Scubster, a French sustainable zero-energy submarine propelled by pedals. The team behind it hope to enter the next international submarine race in the USA in July 2011.

This next creation could help solve your urban parking problems. This is the Hiriko City Car, in the process of folding itself up. Very handy for tight spaces. It's scheduled to go into production in 2012 and will be tested in five cities worldwide.

Well, chocolate, anybody? This guide robot in Japan proved a good hostess at this year's Robotech Exhibition in Tokyo. It was among the inventions aimed at caring for Japan's aging population.

And meet Nobby. He's a robot baby designed to stimulate the behavior and growth of a nine-month-old infant. Nobby has two cameras and two microphones on his head, and around 600 touch sensors in his artificial skin, poor thing. Cutting edge inventions in our World in Pictures this evening.

That is it from us here at CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Becky Anderson, your world connected here on CNN. You can stay with us, though, of course, online "BackStory" is up next here on CNN right after this very quick check of the headlines for you.