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CONNECT THE WORLD

Connect the World Special: The Children Of Syria

Aired November 29, 2013 - 15:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ATIKA SHUBERT, HOST: Forced to flee: a UN report reveals the desperate plight of Syrian children caught in the conflict and the catastrophic future they face as refugees. Tonight, we bring you a special addition of Connect the World looking at a generation of innocent lives now traumatized by the horrors of war.

ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN London, this is Connect the World.

SHUBERT: The UN high commission for human rights says there are now more than 1 million Syrian children living as refugees. That makes up half of all the people who have left Syrian the war began. A new report lays out the enormous challenges these young people face. Many are separated from their parents and families. And some children as young as seven are forced to work to provide food for their families and many will never receive a formal education.

The psychological impact will leave children with scars they may never be able to overcome.

We're going to hear from the UNHCR in just a moment, but first let's cross to Fred Pleitgen. He is in Damascus this evening. Fred, the situation for those internally displaced in Syria is just tragic. What are they being exposed to at this time?

FRED PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Atika.

Well, there's basically three main differences between the people who are internally displaced, especially the children who are internally displaced as opposed to those who have become refugee.

First of all, there's much more of them. There's about 2 million people who have fled this country, there's about 6 million who are internally displaced and many, many of them are children. We saw that today when we visited one makeshift camp for displaced people.

The other thing is that many of these people are still in harms way. They roam the country, but it's very difficult for them to actually get away from the fighting.

And the third main differences is that it's much harder for aid to actually reach these places. There's a lot of places here in this country that are either under siege by the military or under siege by rebels where aid convoys simply can't go through.

We were able today to get to a makeshift camp for displaced people, where people are living under absolutely appalling conditions. Let's have a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PLEITGEN: As fighting rages across Syria, those displaced by the conflict are not only worried about violence, they're worried about the cold in this makeshift camp in southern Damascus. And they're especially concerned about the health of their children.

Naima Ali al-Sheikh (ph) is from a neighborhood that was under rebel control until recently and is now destroyed.

We had to run away from our home, she says. Because there was no food and no milk for my child. And there were so many armed people.

Naima (ph) has four children. Her entire family stays in this tent, sleeping on top of each other to stay warm. Naima (ph) says the children are often sad and talk about the home they lost.

I miss our house, the 8-year-old daughter says. We could not bring our things with us. I miss school. I was supposed to be in first grade.

They are far from the only people displaced by battle. While the UN says that more than 2 million people have fled Syria, a much greater number, more than 6 million, had become internally displaced, many of them children.

Aid groups try to give them shelter and some educational and emotional support after the trauma they've endured.

International aid groups like UNHCR, UNICEF and also the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and the Red Cross are really doing a lot here in Syria trying to help people, but there are still many, many camps for internally displaced like this one. It's just a couple of tents. And the people here really have to rely on themselves and the little help they get from private donors.

The children here rely on food donated by a local businessman. He tells me his aid is not enough.

At the moment, I'm alone, he says. But I do hope that more people will pitch in and all of them will give something as well.

Some of the children have been living in these tents for more than two years. Many have only tattered clothes and shoes to wear and haven't attended school since losing their homes. For most of them, there is no end in sight as Syria's civil war drags on and the cold winter draws near.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PLEITGEN: And I can tell you, Atika, it's really been the past couple of days that the temperatures here have dropped immensely, so it's getting more and more difficult for these displaced people by the day. And I was able to tour that area a little bit today and there are some places there that were in rebel hands, but have since been gone back to the government where the fighting has actually ended, but the people still can't go back to their homes, because in many cases those homes have been absolutely flattened, Atika.

SHUBERT: Yeah, very sad to hear. Well, thank you very much. Fred Pleitgen for us live in Damascus.

Well, a million Syrian children have spilled into neighboring countries. Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan have taken the majority of them, and Iraq, too, has also seen an influx.

Lebanon, has the most: 800,000 in total, 400,000 of those children. 80 percent of these children are not in school there.

Keep in mind that Lebanon's population is just 4 million. And so that means the number of Syrian school aged children could well exceed the number of Lebanese children.

In Turkey, child refugees make up more than 50 percent of the 500,000 people the country has taken in.

And in Jordan, there are almost 300,000 Syrian youth, 56 percent are not receiving any formal education.

Now statelessness is another worry. The UN estimates that every day 125 babies are born as refugees, a vast number do not have birth certificates. In the last year, just 68 babies born in Jordan's Zaatari camp received birth papers.

Well, Peter Kessler is the regional spokesman for the UNHCR. He joins us now live form Amman. Peter, you've had plenty of experience around the world with these kinds of situations, but the Syrian crisis is particularly bad. What are the biggest challenges to providing help to children in these camps?

PETER KESSLER, UNHCR REGIONAL SPOKESMAN: Well, what we've seen, of course, is that in the last months, since of course March of this year there was a major influx of people across the region, the camps grew in size. The numbers in the camps of people are very challenging, 100,000 or so in Zaatari, 60,000 in one camp in northern Iraq.

So of course it's a challenge getting the schools established and of course providing the other needs, the counseling and the psychological support that the children need.

But the problems are perhaps easier to address in camps, simply because some 83 percent of the refugees are living in urban areas, urban areas in Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Turkey. They are harder to reach. They're living in crowded apartments, perhaps camping in abandoned parking garages. They may not have access D they may not even be allowed out of their homes by their parents who are afraid to draw too much attention to the fact that they're refugees living in the midst of an increasingly frustrated host community.

So there are lots of challenges facing people in the urban areas as well as the fact that many schools across these countries are already crowded with their own local students even working on second shifts. So there's a huge challenge to be addressed in school, health care and other community services that has to be addressed by aid agencies and other groups.

SHUBERT: Sorry, if I could interrupt you just a second there, you mentioned health care, and I wanted to bring up this point about polio. We've seen this reemergence of this deadly disease. And in fact last month I think the World Health Organization confirmed the first outbreak of polio in Syria in 14 years. In fact, they've identified 17 separate cases of the disease and now an estimated half a million Syrian children are at risk of contracting polio.

So how D what is the best way to address this problem of a possible spread of a disease like polio?

KESSLER: Well, clearly there are health care problems that need to be addressed across the region. Syria had a very good health service in the past. Many people, children, were vaccinated. But obviously in recent years, in the last three years of war, that may have collapsed in some areas entirely.

that's why with the support of the host in Jordan, Iraq, Turkey, Lebanon vaccination programs are underway. UNICEF has a major program together with the World Health Organization working with ministries of health.

And of course aid agencies are working very hard inside Syria to get into all areas of the country, including besieged zones. But it remains at challenge across the region.

And as you state, the children can be left out. And in that case put at enormous risk should they contract polio.

SHUBERT: Yeah, thank you very much, that's Peter Kessler for us of UNHRC live for us in Amman. Thank you

Well, still to come tonight.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORREPSONDENT: I have to work, I have to make money. If I don't, how are we going to make it?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHUBERT: The children supporting their families, a special report from Lebanon, one of the countries most affected by Syria's refugee crisis.

And young but no longer so innocent, we ask just what the psychological impact will be on the children of conflict.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHUBERT: Welcome back to a special edition of Connect the World where we are taking a closer look at the suffering of children caught up in the Syrian conflict.

Most Syrians have fled to Lebanon and that tiny country is struggling to cope. One massive issue is education. The UN says 80 percent of Syrian refugee children inside Lebanon are out of school. Researchers also found that children as young as seven are working long hours for very little pay, sometimes in dangerous conditions. Mohammed Jamjoom has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You can hear the blasts, but these Syrian children unfazed. As some ride bikes playfully past storefronts both shuttered and scarred, others calmly describe what they've seen.

One I saw a head fly by, says one.

The first time we were afraid, says another boy, Now we're used to it.

Then, a huge explosion nearby.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go, go, go.

JAMJOOM: They scramble to find safety. They're unharmed, at least not physically harmed.

Later, one boy is asked if anyone taught him to dive to the ground the way he did.

No, all by myself, he states proudly.

Like so many other Syrian children, they learn about life and death far too soon, and all on their own.

Countless futures have been destroyed, the circumstances so dire there are now well more than 1 million children refugees. It's why the UN is sounding the alarm, releasing a new report urging the world to act in order to save, quote, traumatized, isolated and suffering Syrian children from catastrophe.

Close to 400,000 of them now live in neighboring Lebanon, if you can call this living -- huddling in the Bekaa Valley's makeshift camps, playing inside its half-built schools, surviving wherever and however they can, the alienation and agony apparent.

You see their suffering throughout the streets of the capital as well. I'm in the heart of Beirut's commercial district. In the past four blocks that I've walked, I've come across 10 Syrian children, all under the age of 7, begging alongside their mothers.

Then there are the children trying to support their families. Many shine shoes, several, like 12-year-old Ali (ph), sell tissues.

He tells me his home in Idlib was destroyed, that he's been in Lebanon for all of three days, that he, his mother and sister have no other choice.

I ask if he can go to school here.

How am I going to go to school? He shoots back.

Later, with startling directness he says, ?I have to work. I have to make money. If I don't, how are we going to make it??

Life doesn't get much harsher. And it's clear devastation comes in many forms for what is rapidly becoming a lost generation.

Mohammed Jamjoom, CNN, Beirut.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SHUBERT: Well, CNN has had the rare opportunity to hear directly from children affected by this conflict. This report was filmed at the Bab al Salama (ph) camp on the Turkey-Syria border. It's from earlier this year, but the experiences of the children we spoke to are still being repeated over and over again.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)??

NOUR (from captions): My name is Nour. I am 8 years old. We were in Azaz when the fighter jet bombed the bus station two times. We then fled to the countryside. The jet then bombed the rebels. We got scared. ??

UNIDENIFIED FEMALE (from captions): And while I was running away, the ceiling joist fell on my foot and cut it. I fainted. I didn't feel anything. It's god's will that it happened. I felt, then -- I can't talk. I just want to walk again. I just want to walk. I don't want to play again, I just want to walk.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (from captions): We have no electricity, no water, a shortage of everything. My mom and dad are dead The fighter jet bombed him in Aleppo. My dad died there, then I brought my mother to Azaz where another jet killed her.

Now we are alone here: me, my brothers and sisters are here, our neighbor came and asked me to work with him, so we can survive.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two months ago, the phone rang and it was that my biggest brother dead. And my other brother Is still fighting now in Aleppo.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have on my family just my family, 15 where in the Free Syrian Army and they killed the D they killed them when they were fighting. And all of them my cousins and one of them my brother. Every day I have these scared moments when the phone ring.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHUBERT: It has been two years and eight months since Syria's conflict began. And in that time, a once thriving country has descended into total chaos. It would have been impossible to predict what would become of these peaceful protests, which started in 2011. Protesters called for President Bashar al-Assad to step down. He refused. Soon internal fighting and violence escalated.

The UN says at least 100,000 Syrians have died in the conflict, 2 million have fled.

It all came to a head when a chemical weapons attack happened in a suburb of Damascus in late August. It prompted international outcry. And now, the world is still wrangling to get both sides to peace talks in Geneva scheduled for January.

The chemical weapons got the world's attention, but they only make up a fraction of deaths in the war. Incendiary attacks use agents like napalm and white phosphorous that are not classified in the same category, but still inflict terrible damage.

Well, a few weeks back I spoke to doctors who have seen the results first hand. A warning to our viewers, this report contains graphic and upsetting images.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SHUBERT: It started with a baby. Within minutes, dozens of teenagers and children staggered in. Rola Hallam, a British Syrian doctor with the charity Hand in Hand, describes what she saw at an emergency room on the outskirts of Aleppo on August 26.

ROLA HALLAM, DOCTOR: We had had, you know, over 30 who had arrived, all within about 10 or 15 minutes, all with just heartbreaking, extensive burns. SHUBERT: British doctor Saleyha Ahsan was also there.

SALEYHA AHSAN, DOCTOR: Their skin being peeled off and hanging. There was one child who was sitting down. His clothes were hanging off and so was his skin.

HALLAM: It's so surreal. And all walking in looking with a really bewildered look on their face and absolutely awful smell of burning flesh with a mix with a very weird synthetic smell that I've never smelled before. Yeah, I can safely say that's probably one of the worst days of my life and from that point of view I'd never ever seen anything as hideous as that.

SHUBERT: Napalm, white phosphorous, ZAB, these are just some example of incendiary bombs, technically not chemical weapons, but just as devastating.

Similar to jellied petroleum set on fire, incendiary bombs stick to everything and keep on burning. Buildings and cars, clothes and skin, often burning straight to the bone.

All the evidence so far suggests an incendiary bomb dropped from a plane on a school caused these terrible injuries.

The UN has documentary the attack. Eight children died immediately, 50 others suffered burns of up to 80 percent on their bodies.

More than 100,000 people have been killed in the Syria conflict so far. Human Rights Watch estimates that chemical weapons are responsible for only 1 percent of the deaths in Syria.

Even if Syria's chemical weapons are destroyed and dismantled, weapons like these incendiary bombs will continue to kill.

HALLAM: The descriptions were fire falling like rain, just falling like rain, plumes of flames and then balls of flames falling out of the sky.

SHUBERT: This time there was a BBC crew filming with the doctors when the attack happened. They captured the terror as the first victims arrived. And the news was broadcast to the world.

But it doesn't end there.

HALLAM: I think, to be honest D and it breaks my heart to even say this, but I D there will be very few of them who will survive this, even who are alive now. They had such extensive burns and soon as it becomes a burn over 50 percent it's, even in the best burn centers in the world, they've got a very high chance of death.

SHUBERT: That's, I'm sorry that's heartbreaking to hear.

HALLA: Yeah, it is heartbreaking, because I think especially as medics you D you want to feel like you're making a difference. I wanted their faces seen. I wanted the whole world to know that what is happening in Syria is happening and I don't want anyone to say I never knew, because you all know. And the world needs to act.

SHUBERT: Because of these pictures, the world now knows.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SHUBERT: Disturbing images, but just a glimpse into what Syrians live with every day.

Well, our next guest recently spent time in a refugee camp in Jordan where she heard from parents who are seeing deep psychological pain in their children.

Kate Adams is the policy and advocacy manager from the charity War Child. Thank you very much for joining us.

Tell us a little bit more about the state these children are coming in into these camps. You've spent time there, spoken to them and their parents. What kind of a psychological impact is this having?

KATE ADAMS, POLICY AND ADVOCACY MANAGER, WAR CHILD: It's absolutely huge. And it's really quite unimaginable. Anything I can really describe is if you look into a child's eyes they can be 8-years-old and it's like looking into the eyes of a 50-year-old, they just completely move into that adult state. Lots of them don't have parents any more, lots of them are uncared for. And the ones that do have parents, the stress of those parents in trying to look after the psychological damage of their children is absolutely massive.

And the children, you know, they have things like bed-wetting, they're not able to D they've become incontinent and complaints about continuous screaming and crying, really post-traumatic stress disorder.

And then one mother looked me in the eye and she said, "the thing I'm most sad about is my children were top of their class and now they've forgotten how to read or right. Their trauma was so massive that they've literally forgotten all of their literacy and numeracy.

SHUBERT: How do you with War Child try and address that, because getting to the psychological impact can be such a difficult thing, so how do you get in there to help heal the mind?

ADAMS: It is incredibly difficult. The only thing to say is that children are really resilient if they have the help that they require. So as long as it's timely and it's really kind of intensive care, they're able to recover quite quickly.

The best thing for them really is to try and be children again. And that means playing with some toys, but also having interaction with their peers. So we have things called safe places where they're inside a refugee camp, but they can go and they can have remedial lessons in literacy and numeracy. But they also have peer-to-peer kind of trauma counseling. And those that are identified to be of a really severe case, they can then be referred to a one-on-one trauma counselor.

SHUBERT: So it's being able to sort of tell the story of what happened and put it into a context that they can really process it sounds like.

ADAMS: And it will depend on the individual. I mean, some children will really need that intensive counseling, others will really not be able to talk about it, too raw, but they might want to just play with their fellow friends who have had similar experiences.

SHUBERT: How concerned are you that the psychological scars are just too deep and we could see a lost generation?

ADAMS: I think everybody is talking about this now. And I'm glad that it's starting to come up, because it's something War Child had a fear around since the conflict began. And we've never seen children targeted in this way by all sides of the conflict. It's really quite unique to Syria. The things that are being done are just completely unimaginable. And I think people don't actually believe it because it's so bad.

And I can tell you from being there that it's all unfortunately true. And the scars are going to be incredibly deep and intergenerational. It's not just these children, it's when they have children it will go on and on and be intergenerational for Syria and the neighboring countries.

SHUBERT: Excuse me very much. I had a bit of a cough, sorry about that. But thank you very much.

Well, this is something CNN ? excuse me ? this is something CNN is very committed to. And I'm sorry We?re going to have to take a quick break here while I catch my breath. we'll be right back shortly.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHUBERT: Welcome back, this is CONNECT THE WORLD, the top stories this hour.

The UN has released its first comprehensive report on Syria's refugee children. It says 1 million Syrian children are now refugees. That's about half of the entire Syrian refugee population. Antonio Guterres, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, told CNN of the dramatic impact on these children.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANTONIO GUTERRES, UN HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR REFUGEES: I think that the most dramatic for me was to speak with children that were clearly traumatized by violence. Children telling stories of their houses being destroyed or of members of their family being killed and having seen that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHUBERT: Now, this is a story CNN is committed to covering. There will be much more content on Syria that can be found on our website, including exclusive and compelling video reports, insightful opinion pieces from experts on the subject. So to find out how to also help refugees, you can go to cnn.com/impact.

Now, onto other news around the world. China says it has scrambled fighter jets after US and Japanese warplanes flew inside its self-declared air defense zone. China announced the zone last weekend in an apparent effort to secure a claim on disputed islands in the East China Sea. Now, since then, several countries, including the US, South Korea, and Japan, have ignored Beijing's restrictions.

Hundreds of protesters have stormed the headquarters of the Thai army. A military spokesman says they were asking for help to overthrow the government. Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, who survived a no- confidence vote in parliament Thursday, says the government is ready for dialogue, but the demonstrators remain defiant. Anna Coren has more from Bangkok.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, demonstrations are expected to ramp up this weekend here in the Thai capital. Security is extra-tight as police are expecting thousands of people to take to the streets. They are demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her cabinet. They say she is merely a puppet for her brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted from power during a military coup back in 2006.

We spoke to the prime minister here at government house, and she assured us that she is the one governing this country. And while she is close to her brother, he does not make the decisions. She's also called for an end to these protests that she believes are hurting Thailand.

YINGLUCK SHINAWATRA, PRIME MINISTER OF THAILAND: We think that as the Thai people, we would like the protesters to please stop the protesting and we can be -- because you already expressed your convictions. And then government would like to open the dialogue and talk to them and also we can find a solution together. So this is the way.

COREN: Well, the prime minister's calls for dialogue have fallen on deaf ears. Not only are these protesters occupying government buildings and ministries and monuments around the city. They also scaled the fence of the army headquarters and opened the gates, allowing at least a thousand people into the compound.

The military listened to their concerns, but then they asked them to leave. And after two hours, they did that. The protesters, however, say they are here for the long haul and will continue protesting for as long as it takes.

Anna Coren, CNN, Bangkok.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SHUBERT: Demonstrators in Ukraine have found a unique way to show their displeasure at the government's decision to suspend talks with the European Union. They tried on Friday to form a human chain from the capital, Kiev, to the nearest, EU country, some 550 kilometers away.

Ukraine was scheduled to sign a trade deal with the European Union, but president Viktor Yanukovych changed his mind after reportedly getting pressure from Moscow to pass it up in favor of stronger economic ties with Russia.

Clashes across Egypt this Friday as protesters defy a ban on unauthorized demonstration. Seven people have been injured in Cairo, and another person in Suez, according to medical and security sources quoted in the state media.

Egypt's state news agency also cites a security source that says 85 protesters have been arrested in 8 provinces. Egypt's new law is opposed by Islamists and human rights activists and it bans demonstrations of more than 10 people without prior government approval.

At least 46 people were killed in bombings and shootings across Iraq Friday. Many of the deaths occurred in Baghdad when a roadside bomb exploded near a popular football field. Also in Baghdad, gunmen stormed a house and killed 6 people: 1 man and 5 women.

A London court has seen surveillance video of the moments just before British soldier Lee Rigby was killed. In the top right hand of your screen, you can see Rigby crossing the road outside his barracks in Woolwich. You can see the car behind him swerve into the wrong side of the road before hitting him. Rigby was then attacked by two men with knives and a meat clever.

Prosecutors called the crime a "cowardly and callous murder" at the start of the trial. Both defendants have pleaded not guilty.

Nigella Lawson's ex-husband says he never saw her take drugs, but still believes she did. Allegations the TV chef used cocaine and marijuana with prescription drugs came to light in court this week when an e-mail from tycoon Charles Saatchi was read out. Max Foster was in court today as Saatchi testified.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MAX FOSTER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Charles Saatchi said he first became aware of the allegations of Nigella Lawson's drug-taking in the summer, around the time when a photo was published of him holding his hand to her neck. He said in court on Friday that he wasn't trying to throttle or strangle her, he was trying to make her focus.

But then, last month in October, an e-mail was sent from him to Nigella Lawson, and that was read out in court. In it, he said, "Of course, now, the Grillos will get off on the basis that you were so off your head on drugs that you allowed the sisters to spend whatever they liked. And yes, I believe every word that the Grillos have said, who after all, only stole money."

The Grillos are the sisters at the center of this trial. They say that they weren't committing fraud when they used Saatchi's company credit card to spend over a million dollars. They say that the Nigella Lawson knew about the expenditure and that she was trying to hide her drug habit from her husband, Charles Saatchi.

Charles Saatchi does say that he's never seen any evidence of Nigella Lawson taking drugs, but he does believe the allegations from the sisters that she took drugs and had a habit stretching back ten years for the duration of their marriage.

The sisters deny the charges. We haven't heard from Nigella Lawson. And Charles Saatchi says that he's been heartbroken ever since the marriage broke down.

Max Foster, CNN, Isleworth, near London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SHUBERT: Police in Germany are investigating a particularly grisly murder case involving one of their own. A 55-year-old police officer in the border town of Reichenau has been arrested on suspicion of murdering a man he met on a cannibalism website.

Police say internet messages revealed that the victim had apparently asked to be killed. The suspect, who is not being named, reportedly killed and dismembered the victim, burying the body parts around his guest house. But police say they cannot confirm whether the suspect ate any of the body parts.

Now, it's arguably the most powerful position in Pakistan, the head of the army, and today, Lieutenant General Raheel Sharif became the new chief of the country's armed forces. Our Saima Mohsin was there as he was sworn in.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SAIMA MOHSIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: More than 4,000 people have been invited to military headquarters in Rawalpindi to witness the handing over ceremony of one chief of army staff of Pakistan to another. Amongst the people here, senior military officials from all the armed forces and schoolchildren, too.

The ceremony includes handing over a cane, which symbolically represents the Pakistan army. So, one chief of army staff, outgoing General Ashfaq Kayani, is handing over to General Raheel Sharif.

Now, he steps into this role at a time when Pakistan is talking about negotiations with the Taliban, dealing with militant scenes, which is spreading, now through the country. But the government is adamant it wants to talk to the Taliban.

All eyes are on General Raheel Sharif. Pakistan has spent most of its history under the rule of military dictators. People are watching to see how this chief of army staff will play out his role.

Saima Mohsin, CNN, Rawalpindi, Pakistan.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SHUBERT: Well, football player Zahir Belounis is back in France after finally being released by his Qatari club. He says El Jaish Club refused to let him leave the country after a pay dispute. Now back in Paris, Belounis spoke to CNN's James Masters about whether he plans to return to football.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHIR BELOUNIS, FRENCH-ALGERIAN FOOTBALLER: Unfortunately, 33 years old, when you didn't play in one year, who will believe to one player? No, I think it's finished for me. My psychology is very, very, very bad. I didn't take medicine or something like that, but I will be with my family today, and I will see if I have the power to again come back.

JAMES MASTERS, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: With all of that in mind, how do you feel about the World Cup being held in Qatar in 2022?

BELOUNIS: I will tell you the truth, and I've said it since the beginning, they deserve the World Cup for -- for the Middle East, it will be a fantastic thing, and the people will be -- we shared a great time between the people, between Europe, Middle East, and America and everywhere, it's very good, and they deserve this World Cup.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHUBERT: In an October statement, the Qatari Football Association said, and I quote, "There were always be contractual disputes between clubs and players."

Live from London, you're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. After the break, six millennia of art in just one room. We'll take you back through the centuries in this awe-inspiring gallery of time.

And a truly epic life, but will it make an epic film? Nelson Mandela's story on the silver screen, and we get a Preview.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHUBERT: We're all familiar with the magnificent Louvre gallery in Paris, but perhaps you have not heard of this little place. It's the sister -- it has a little sister in Lens, and it's set up with the aim of breathing life into a sleepy French town. It is the first satellite gallery of the Louvre, and Nick Glass went to see what treasures lie inside.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NICK GLASS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The slag heaps dominate, like giant molehills. Lens seems a desolate place, a French mining town that slowly died when the coal pits began to close in the 1960s.

Visitors come for the industrial heritage and because of the Great War. Cemeteries, beautifully tended and hauntingly full of young men who fell at nearby Loos and Vermelles. From a slag heap, we look down on the town and on its new museum, so low-lying, so anonymous, it could easily be mistaken for a factory.

This the Louvre-Lens, the first ever outpost for the great Paris museum. Minimalist aluminum and glass and a single story high, it stretches out close to an old mine shaft, a cloudy, gray shoe box of a building.

Inside, it takes your breath away. Every wall reflects artworks and visitors alike. We are both ethereal and real.

This is the Galerie du Temps, the Gallery of Time, as beautiful an exhibition space as I've seen in 20 years as an arts correspondent.

JEAN-LUC MARTINEZ, PRESIDENT-DIRECTOR, MUSEE DU LOUVRE (through translator): We are displaying everything together in the same space. Normally, we create rooms and breaks. This has made us write an unbroken history of art. That's what's really new.

GLASS: Six thousand years of art in a single room. At French government insistence, the Louvre was compelled to develop a regional satellite.

XAVIER DECLOT, DIRECTOR, LOUVRE-LENS MUSEUM: In a way, it is kind of a ghost town, because it was a boom town before. Locals have gone anywhere and be welcomed, but there was no place the Louvre was as needed as Lens.

GLASS (on camera): Both faces would have been painted?

FRANCOISE GAULTIER, GREEK, ETRUSCAN, AND ROMAN ANTIQUITES DEPARTMENT (through translator): Yes. According to convention, the female face is painted in white and the male face is in red. That is the custom.

GLASS (voice-over): Under conservation, an Etruscan clay masterpiece 2,500 years old. Lens is preparing a special Etruscan show, and uniquely for the Louvre, the public can observe conservators at work.

HENRI WOSNIAK, FORMER MINER (through translator): When the president of the Republic announced that the Louvre would come to Lens, I was so happy.

GLASS: Henri Wosniak, 80 next year, was a miner for a long and hard 35 years. He was just 15 when he first went underground. His biggest thrill in the new museum was seeing Delacroix's "Liberty Leading the People," among the most-revered of French revolutionary paintings.

WOSNIAK (through translator): I had seen it on stamps, postage stamps. Stamps are like this. And here it's --

GLASS: In its first year, the Louvre-Lens has attracted three quarters of a million people. The town has become a destination again because of art.

Nick Glass, CNN, Lens.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SHUBERT: Well, have you visited the Louvre in Paris or in Lens? What's your favorite work of art there? Please leave a comment on our Inside the Louvre page at cnn.com/louvre. Or tweet the hash tag #LouvreFavorite.

And tune into CNN this Saturday for an Inside the Louvre special. That's this Saturday at 2:00 PM in London and 3:00 PM in Berlin.

Now, coming up after this short break on CONNECT THE WORLD, we hear from the actor starring as Nelson Mandela in the new film about his life and find out just how he prepared for this huge role.

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SHUBERT: One of the world's most revered men, Nelson Mandela, is now immortalized on the silver screen. The long-awaited biopic based on the former South African president's autobiography is finally out this week, and CNN Preview gets the very first look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NEIL CURRY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's been a long walk to the silver screen for this much-anticipated biopic about the former South African president Nelson Mandela. The film follows Mandela from his formative years as a lawyer in Johannesburg in the early 1940s through to his battle against apartheid, which led to a 27-year prison term.

Multiple script revisions, recastings, and rights issues mean the movie took almost as long to reach the screen as its subject spent in prison.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nelson Mandela, do you plead guilty or not guilty?

IDRIS ELBA AS NELSON MANDELA, "MANDELA: LONG WALK TO FREEDOM": My Lord, it is not I but the government that should be put in the dock.

CURRY: Various Hollywood names were considered for the challenging role, which ultimately fell to the British actor Idris Elba.

ELBA: He's a big icon and everybody knows him and everybody can probably do some sort of an impression of him or draw a picture of what he looks like. And so with that, I just -- you just take that onboard and just make it your own, and that's what I managed to do making this film.

I disappeared to South Africa for about eight months when the -- and that was like two, three months of preparation before I had to move there. And that was about understanding the culture, understanding where he came from and who he was and what he meant to the people before I actually shot anything.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If the blacks take over, our country is finished.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is it that you personally want?

ELBA AS MANDELA: I have beautiful children, a beautiful wife. I want them to walk free in their own land.

ELBA: This is a massive story, it's a really important story to the worldwide community, and I think -- I'd like audiences to take away that, wow, that happened not that long ago. South Africa's come a long way.

And I think other countries can learn from the sort of central message of this film, which is about equality and freedom and respect for each other and forgiveness is key in sort of getting along with each other in this world. And I just want people to see the film and sort of know who this guy was, you know? Who he is.

CURRY: Most countries will have to wait until 2014 to see the film, but it's released in the US this week, and the British Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will be allowed an early peek during a royal premier in London in December.

ELBA AS MANDELA: Love comes more naturally to the human heart.

CURRY: Ladysmith Black Mambazo, the Zulu choir Nelson Mandela chose to perform at his presidential inauguration and when he was awarded the Nobel Prize. The Grammy-winning band will be touring the US next year with a new album, "Always With Us."

The record is a tribute to the late Nellie Shabalala, wife of Ladysmith leader Joseph, and features some of her original recordings in the mix.

Nelson Mandela was beginning his law studies in Johannesburg when the Blind Boys of Alabama first sang together in 1944. Growing up in the racially-segregated US state of Alabama, they found joy in Gospel music. Jimmy Carter and Clarence Fountain are the only surviving members of the original lineup.

JIMMY CARTER, BLIND BOYS OF ALABAMA: You were in the segregated South at that time. It was a rough start. And you sang at a church at night, looking for a place to eat. Couldn't find one because you couldn't go into certain places.

But we were dedicated. The group was dedicated, and they were determined to let nothing hinder them.

CURRY: For their latest album, the boys have collaborated with a number of younger artists, including Bon Iver's front man Justine Vernon, and Shara Worden from My Brightest Diamond.

SHARA WORDEN, SINGER: The Blind Boys, and that's when they were five and six years old, in the 30s in a school for the blind in Alabama, and by the time they were teenagers, they were touring all over the place. They had chaperones. And they've been on the road ever since.

CARTER: We struggled a long time before we really got any accolades, but better late than never. My first highlight was when I won my first Grammy in 2001. Then, there was another highlight -- we have had the opportunity to sing for three presidents: President Clinton, President Bush, and President Obama. That was a highlight. To get a lifetime achievement award, all of these accolades are good.

CURRY: That's all from this edition of CNN Preview. Join us again next time.

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SHUBERT: As many of our regular viewers know, we often like to end the show with our Parting Shots feature, but tonight's story is about a man who appears to have no intention of taking anything close to a parting shot. He is Manchester United star Ryan Giggs, who turned 40 today, happy birthday.

Giggs has the rare distinction of not only being a football legend, but to this day remains one of the sport's best players. He began his career in 1991 before some international players, like Jack Wilshere, were even born.

Now, since then, he's gone on to win 13 Premier League titles, 4 FA Cups, 2 Champion League titles and many other awards. He is, in fact, the most decorated player in English football history. His career has also been defined by his commitment to just one club.

But what does Giggs himself put his longevity down to? And the answer may surprise you. He says yoga. Oh, and by the way, if Giggs agrees new terms with United, there is a chance he might go on to make 1,000 total appearances for the reining English champions.

So, I think the lesson here is, don't let anyone tell you that turning 40 is a bad thing. And you heard that from another 40-year-old. I'm Atika Shubert and that was CONNECT THE WORLD, thanks for watching. "Quest Means Business" is coming up right after this short break.

END