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Syrian Refugees In Lebanon Surpass 1 Million Mark; Chile Hit With Powerful 7.6 Magnitude Aftershock; Queen Elizabeth Visits Vatican; Celebrity Chef Nigella Lawson Denied Entry Into U.S.

Aired April 3, 2014 - 15:00   ET


JONATHAN MANN, HOST: Tonight, you've heard the stories of Syria's refugees before, but never one quite like this.


ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I went to them over and over. I said you must have made a mistake, Mariam says. They lied to me. They mocked me. They shouted get out of here.

MANN: Her desperate act will shock you and underscore her terrible fate.

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

MANN: Hello, I'm Jonathan Mann. Also this hour, turned away -- why this celebrity chef is not welcome in America.

Plus, the sex trade debate. Should the clients paying for sex being the ones criminalized?

Thanks for joining us. We begin with what the United Nations calls a devastating milestone. Today, the number of Syrians registered as refugees in Lebanon passed the 1 million mark. The UN says that would be a massive influx for any country, but in tiny Lebanon the impact is simply staggering. With an official population of just over 4 million, Lebanon now has the highest per capita concentration of refugees in the world.

The UN says resources are stretched to the breaking point. It says the refugee crisis has created serious economic shocks and public services from health to education and sanitation are struggling to meet needs.

As desperate as the situation is, it's even more dire in Syria itself, torn apart by three years of war. So every day an estimated 2,500 more Syrians leave everything behind hoping for a better future by crossing the border into Lebanon.

The hardships don't end there. Some, in fact, only begin. For one Syrian mother, it all became too much. Arwa Damon tells us how she was driven to an act of sheer desperation.



"I choose death," she says. "I choose death rather than see my children die a million times in front of me."

Words fell Mariam's husband Ahmed as he listens to the woman whose smile he fell in love with 24 years ago. Their four children, ages 13 to 22, don't want to be filmed. Three of them have a blood disease that requires a specific diet. Six months ago, the UN switched from providing aid to all refugees, to a targeted aid campaign. The family was deemed not eligible for food assistance.

"I went to them over and over. I said you must have made a mistake," Mariam says. "They lied to me. They mocked me. They shouted get out of here."

Mariam torched herself.

This is the exact spot where the incident took place in front of UNHCR's registration center for northern Lebanon. The vendors here all witnessed it happening. They said it took place very quickly, that she briefly exchanged a few words with somebody and then poured the gasoline on her head. The next thing they knew, she was a ball of flames.

The helplessness, the humiliation, it was just too much.

Sometimes, all the family had to eat were scraps of dried bread.

Mariam is saying that she feels as if her heart was burnt by the way that they were being treated even before she decided to set herself on fire, that she felt like they were all being treated like animals. She says I'm not an animal, I'm a mother, I'm a human.

She says she would plead, "I'm going to set myself on fire. Feel my pain. Feel what's in my heart. Feel that I have four children. They would laugh at me and send me away."

UN personnel at the center and guards told us she wasn't mistreated. But the UN takes these allegations very seriously and is looking into them along with also following up on the family's eligibility for reinclusion in the food aid program.

The UN is also covering all of Mariam's medical costs.

She says all she's ever done was for her children's survival.

"I worked very hard for their education."

They don't come to the hospital. She doesn't want them to see her like this.


MANN: Arwa Damon joins us now live from Beirut with more.

You know, what do you say after something like that? Syria's tragedy as a nation is reflected millions of times over by individual tragedies like that. You've met so many of the Syrians who are stuck terrified inside their country who have been impoverished and dislocated by fleeing. How do you describe all of this?

DAMON: It's impossible to do it justice what these refugees have been through inside their own country, what they continue to go through when they're trying to seek sanctuary outside of it.

If we just look at Mariam's story, her actions as of now are an isolated incident, but the emotional agony that led her to take such a drastic action. That is echoed by the vast majority of the Syrians who we speak to. Their level of frustration continues to rise. They feel as if they're completely abandoned.

They have begun to acknowledge and will say, look, the international community, global powers, they have their own agenda when it comes to Syria. No one is holding their breath expecting some sort of miraculous political resolution to the fighting, but at the very least in the international community and these key countries that can afford it can provide the funding needed to organizations like UNHCR so that at the very least these refugees' burden when they are in Syria's neighboring countries can be eased to a certain degree.

If we just look at Lebanon, Jonathan, in this country, the UNHCR and Lebanese government put out a plea for around $1.89 billion. So far, they only have 14 percent of that, Jonathan.

MANN: And Lebanon was already a very modest, if not poor country, to start with. You know, maybe it's not fair to say the Syrians have been abandoned, because the people of Lebanon are receiving them. And how are they managing?

DAMON: They aren't -- it's quite a complicated dynamic, Jonathan, just because of how intertwined Lebanese and Syrians histories are. We're seeing the tensions that preexisted in Lebanon being aggravated by what's happening in Syria.

The various communities that have absorbed the Syrian refugees are really at a breaking point. It's an unsustainable situation. And some towns in Lebanon, you have more Syrian refugees than you actually have Lebanese.

Remember, we're talking about 1 million registered refugees and a country with a population is just over 4 million.

But that being said, you also have countless instances where the Lebanese themselves are trying to do all that they can to support the Syrian refugee population because of the close ties that exist, because of this sense of just wanting to try to help out people that are in such desperate need.

But at the same time, the reality is that this country's infrastructure is strained to a degree that it cannot survive much longer. We're talking medical infrastructure, we're talking education. We're talking about simple things like sewage overflowing because of the sheer number of people that are using the various facilities that exist. And that is why we hear this desperate plea from the United Nations and other aid organizations for the international community, for donors to come forward and give money, because we're at a stage where we really need to see international organizations capable and funded enough to be able to put together long-term plans, because of the refugee crisis and because of the reality that the war in Syria is not going to end any time soon.

MANN: And there's another reality, which is that it's not just Lebanon affected, there are other countries also literally buckling under the weight of all those refugees, some 2.6 million people in all. And once again we go back to the United Nations and its figures. Turkey now has more than 667,000 refugees from Syria, Jordan almost 589,000, 222,000 have crossed into Iraq. More than 135,000 into Egypt.

Arwa, you know, it -- the entire region is being tussled by this and you think about those people, you think about all the young people. It's a lost generation growing up under terrible circumstances far from home.

DAMON: It is a lost generation. And it's absolutely tragic. If we just go back to look at Lebanon for a moment, half the refugees here are children, a lot of them are not able to go to school, because either the school system can't absorb them or for a growing number of these children because they have to work because of the financial strain on their families.

These are children that have already been traumatized by what they have seen.

And to hear a young child talk about running away from bombs, to see the pain that they carry with them in their eyes and to see how they're having to live in these various countries, the lucky ones are able to end up with something of a solid roof over their heads, the vast majority of them are living in tents without proper sanitation without proper medication. There are great concerns, of course, about the spread of diseases.

These are children that have suffered so much already, that continue to struggle and that continue to ask their parents when they're going to be able to go back home. And of course the parents are helpless to help their children out as well.

MANN: Arwa Damon live in Beirut. Thanks very much.

It goes without saying every one of these refugees has a story and as Arwa just said you can see the pain and suffering in their eyes. CNN's website has a special gallery that puts that human face on the crisis. You can find it at

CNN also makes it easy for you to help ease the suffering as best we can. Our Impact Your World webpage lists organizations that are providing essential services for the refugees and they welcome your donations. That's at

Still to come tonight, it is difficult and frustrating, but two prime ministers vow to keep searching for that missing Malaysia airlines jet. We'll have the latest on the search later in the program.

A second deadly shooting in Texas at the same U.S. army base that was the scene of a massacre five years ago. We will be live from Fort Hood.

Also, she's met five popes, but it was this pontiff's first meeting with Queen Elizabeth. This historic encounter at the Vatican and much more when Connect the World continues.


MANN: You're watching CNN. And this is Connect the World. I'm Jonathan Mann. Welcome back.

It's name alone evokes memories of one of the most shocking mass shootings in recent U.S. history. Now Fort Hood in Texas is the scene of new tragedy after an army specialist opened fire killing three people. George Howell sends this report.


UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: We have an active currently on Fort Hood. We have multiple gunshot victims. We also have people who are escaping through windows.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tragedy strikes again. The army's largest U.S. base put on lockdown for hours as shots rang out Wednesday. The second deadliest shooting on the Fort Hood military base in Texas in nearly five years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's unreal, really unreal because in 2009 I was here and this thing happen again.

HOWELL: Authorities scramble to the scene shutting the front gates, backing up traffic, urging everyone to stay put. The lone shooter identified as specialist Ivan Lopez, an American soldier toting a 45- caliber Smith and Wesson semi-automatic handgun purchased recently.

LT. GEN. MARK MILLEY: He was undergoing behavior health and psychiatric treatment for depression and anxiety, and a variety of other psychological and psychiatric issues.

HOWELL: Dressed in combat fatigues, Lopez allegedly opened fire, killing three people and injuring more than a dozen before taking his own life after being confronted by a military police officer.

MILLEY: It was clearly heroic what she did at that moment in time. She did her job. She did exactly what we would expect of a United States Army military police.

HOWELL: Victims were airlifted to nearby hospitals.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Any shooting is troubling. Obviously this reopens the pain of what happened at Fort Hood five years ago.

HOWELL: Fort Hood, the sight of so much pain in 2009 when Major Nidal Hasan opened fire on base killing 13 people and injuring 32. President Obama's touching words on the events of that tragic day almost five years ago sadly relevant again.

OBAMA: So we say goodbye to those who now belong to eternity. May God bless the memory of those that we have lost.


MANN: In Ukraine, a new report accuses the country's ousted president of ordering the killing of protesters in February. The government says it has evidence Viktor Yanukovych gave direct orders to snipers to open fire on the protesters. Yanukovych has denied personal responsibility for the bloodshed. 12 members of the special security forces have been detained as part of the investigation.

Another development to tell you about, Russia's top natural gas producer Gazprom increased gas prices for Ukraine for the second time this week to $485 per 1,000 cubic meters. Depending on how you do the math, it works out to a jump of between 70 and 80 percent.

In Pakistan, a bomb exploded near a convoy carrying former Pervez Musharraf. A police official said the device exploded as the general was being moved from a military hospital to his home Wednesday night. No one was hurt in the attack.

Turkey has lifted its ban on Twitter. The decision follows Wednesday's constitutional court ruling that the government move to ban the network was a breach of free speech. Several Twitter users in Turkey tell us they can no use the website once again.

Two of the best known people in the world just met for the first time. Pope Francis welcome Queen Elizabeth to the Vatican today. She was invited to Rome by Italian President Giorgio Napolitano. And after meeting him for lunch, she and her husband, Prince Philip, paid a visit to the Holy See.

Vatican correspondent Delia Gallagher has more.


DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN VATICAN CORRESPONDENT: Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh met with the pope for a 30 minute private and informal meeting. It is the first time that the queen has met the pope, but neither the Vatican nor Buckingham Palace are commenting on what was said between the two. Of course, the queen is the head of the church of England. And the Anglican Church and the Catholic Church work together on a variety of initiatives, including their missionary and charity work around the world and also on human trafficking, which is a top priority for Pope Francis.

Earlier in the week, the Vatican reiterated their position of neutrality on the question of the Falklands or Malvinas, but we know that Pope Francis as Archbishop of Buenas Aires was outspoken in his support of Argentina on that issue.

Now the pope gave the queen a gift for her great-grandson George saying that we share the same name. The pope's Christian name being Jorge. And also a copy of a 17th Century parchment of Edward the Confessor who was an 11th Century king of England and is also a saint in the Catholic church.

And the queen gave the pope a hamper of goodies from the royal estate, including a dozen eggs, honey, beer, various jams and jellies, a haunch of venison and also a bottle of Balmoral Whisky.

Earlier in the day, the queen and Prince Philip met with Italian President Giorgio Napolitano who had invited them to lunch and was the reason for their brief but busy day in Rome. They head back to London tonight.

Delia Gallagher, CNN, Rome.


MANN: A remarkable meeting, but maybe a bit of a routine for her highness. Queen Elizabeth's first meeting with a pope was when she was just Princess Elizabeth, that was Pope Pious XII back in 1951. 10 years later, she and Prince Philip met Pope John XXIII at the Vatican during an official visit to Rome. In 1980, John Paul II was the head of the Catholic church and met the royal couple on another royal tour. And in 2010, it was the Queen's turn to play host, inviting Pope Benedict XVI to the palace of Holyrood House in Edinburgh.

Live from CNN Center, this is Connect the World. Coming up, stopped in her tracks, celebrity chef Nigella Lawson was prevented from flying to the United States. We'll find out why she was told to chill.

And we address the difficult issue of whether prostitution should be legal. We'll have a debate with a member of the European parliament and a sex worker with strong opinions on the subject.


MANN: Welcome back. You're watching Connect the World live from CNN Center. I'm Jonathan Mann.

Celebrity TV chef Nigella Lawson has been banned from entering the United States. A spokesperson from the U.S. embassy in London tells CNN that Lawson was prevented from boarding a British Airways flight from London to Los Angeles last Sunday. Britain's Daily Mail newspaper linked the incident to Lawson's recent admission in court that she had used cocaine in the past. That was one of many personal details that emerged during a fraud trial of Lawson's former assistants last year.

But why has this happened? And how long with the celebrity chef have to stay away from the U.S.? U.S. immigration lawyer Steven Heller joins us now live from London. Thanks so much for being with us.

Why did it happen? Is she some kind of threat to America's peace and good order?

STEVEN HELLER, IMMIGRATION LAWYER: I wouldn't say that. But, you know, there's a strict interpretation of drug rules in the United States. And, you know, an admission in a court hearing as having possessed controlled substances could be used against you. It could also be -- as a criminal sort of matter, it could also indicate evidence of drug abuse, which would require a medical determination, but those are the kinds of things that might be behind this, I suppose.

MANN: But to be absolutely precise about this, it's no secret, she was never convicted of a crime. She's not regarded as a legal threat inside the UK. And as far as I understand it, she's actually been to the United States since she made that admission in court without incident.

HELLER: Absolutely.

Well, but as a criminal matter, the immigration rules allow for -- or provide that an admission to the essential elements of a crime can be the basis for refusal of entry. And the admission can be in a court proceeding or to an official of the U.S. government or to a police officer here.

MANN: I understand that. I'm going to jump in, though, because there's another element to all this, which is -- as everyone knows, she's been having a famously, or infamously unfortunate year. And we can all recall seeing those tabloid photographs of her ex-husband with his hands around her throat. Would he have any trouble getting into the U.S.

HELLER: Well, based on that, it would -- you know, if he committed a crime there, it's probably simple assault, which would not really be a crime involving moral turpitude, although there's a domestic element to it that could complicate things for him.

But strictly speaking, it probably would not cause him a problem.

MANN: So what does she do now? She presumably will have reason to try to get back...

HELLER: She applies for a visa -- yeah, I mean, I don't think she'll have a problem getting a visa. The question is, you know, what was the underlying concern? Was it that she admitted the essential elements of a crime of possession of a controlled substance for which she would require a waiver? Or was it that they think that she needs to be examined to determine if she has a -- you know, suffers from a medical condition like drug abuse or dependence.

MANN: So a little bit of paperwork and some public embarrassment.

HELLER: The public embarrassment I think has taken place, yeah. And then it's a matter of paperwork.

MANN: Steven Heller, immigration attorney, thanks so much for talking with us.

HELLER: Thank you.

MANN: Well, it's hardly the first time that foreign celebrities have been banned from entering the U.S. You may recall Kate Moss as of last year. Moss still had difficulty getting a work visa. Linked to a front page splash in a British tabloid in 2005 showing her apparently chopping and snorting cocaine.

In 2008, British singer Boy George was denied a visa by U.S. immigration officials because of a schedule trial later that year.

And British pop princess Lily Allen had her U.S. working visa revoked in 2007 allegedly over her arrest for a run in with a photographer in London a few months earlier.

The latest world news headlines just ahead.

Plus, the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines jet kicks up a gear. We'll bring you the latest on developing investigation.

And what is the best way to protect sex workers in Europe? We debate the issue with a European member of parliament and a British sex worker.

And after a massive earthquake hits Chile, we assess the damage and the consequences for thousands of people evacuated from their homes overnight.


MANN: You're watching Connect the World. The top stories this hour.

The United Nations has registered its 1 millionth Syria refugee in Lebanon. The civil war in Syria is putting a heavy financial and social burden on its tiny neighbor whose own population is only four million.

The prime ministers of Malaysia and Australia have vowed to keep going in the hunt for the missing Malaysia airlines jet. Search planes are set to take off again in the next few hours. So far, crews looking for the plane keep coming up empty. We'll have more on the search just ahead.

More problems for U.S. efforts to broker a Middle East peace deal. Israel has called off the fourth planned release of Palestinian prisoners after Palestinians took steps to join United Nations agencies. Both sides accuse the other of breaking their promises.

In Chile, close to a million people were evacuated after strong tremors struck overnight, that after the 8.2 magnitude quake that took the lives of six people and triggered landslides and a tsunami Tuesday. Shasta Darlington sends this report.


SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We're here on a road to the town of Camarones, a small town in northern Chiles that was completely cut off by the massive 8.2 earthquake on Tuesday.

And just when workers had opened up the road so they could gain access, we had a large aftershock Wednesday night that sent boulders tumbling into the road again. You can see, there's a huge crack split here. And again, the bulldozers have just passed by a short while ago, cleaning the boulders off so that we could get access to this small town.

And what we've seen is, while people here didn't have to worry about tsunamis, they did have to worry about getting supplies in. They're almost out of water, they do have generators for electricity, but they haven't been visited by a single official. They feel abandoned, to say the least.

And they also have the concern that there is a reservoir right above them, so every time there's an aftershock or an earthquake, they also have to move to higher ground. It's been a really tense couple of days.

We ourselves were in the aftershock on Wednesday night. We were evacuated from our hotel with a lot of residents to higher ground. Many people carried backpacks and bedrolls. They actually spent the night outside, on the one hand so that they could be safe from the possibilities of rising waters, but also so that they didn't have to worry about falling buildings or debris.

And what we just keep hearing over and over again is they don't know when this is going to end. They were already feeling pretty considerable foreshocks before that major earthquake. Now, there have been more than a hundred aftershocks, and experts saying that this might not have even been the big one. They don't know what's ahead, and it's a very tense situation still here in northern Chile.

Shasta Darlington, CNN, Camarones, Chile.


MANN: We have some new information on the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. CNN has learned a British naval ship will conduct what's being called a specific search on Friday. We'll have more details on that later.

Meanwhile, the Australian prime minister says the hunt for missing aircraft is the most difficult in human history. Tony Abbott was speaking as he welcomed his Malaysian counterpart to Perth. Paula Newton has details.



NAJIB RAZAK, PRIME MINISTER OF MALAYSIA: Tony, how wonderful to see you.

ABBOTT: It's very good to see you, too.

PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Calling this the biggest mystery in aviation history --

ABBOTT: Good morning, guys. This is Prime Minister Najib Razak.

NEWTON: Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak toured search operations at Australia's Pearce Air Force Base Thursday. This as the search zone moved again, this time, slightly north.

RAZAK: The new refined area of search has given us new hope, and I believe the courage of the crews is more than equal to the task.

NEWTON: Today, both leaders blunt about the difficulty of the investigation, saying they have no guarantees they'll ever find the missing plane.

ABBOTT: It is a very difficult search, the most difficult in human history.

NEWTON: In the search zone Thursday, at least ten aircraft and nine ships scouring for wreckage in an area about the size of Minnesota. Officials coordinating the search here tell CNN some search areas have been abandoned with the lack of new sightings.

Despite the continued sense of urgency, Malaysia's prime minister announced no news or credible leads on where Flight 370 might be.

RAZAK: We want to provide comfort to the families, and we will not rest until answers are, indeed, found.

NEWTON: Paula Newton, CNN, at Pearce Air Force Base, western Australia.


MANN: Let's get you up to speed, now, on the latest developments in the search effort. An Australian defense force spokesman told CNN a British royal navy ship, HMS Echo, will carry what's been called -- carry out a specific search in the coming hours. The spokesman also says the man in charge of the search will make what's being called a big operations announcement on Friday.

And an Australian navy ship equipped with a special ping detector has arrived in the search area. Time, though, is running out. The battery on the flight data recorder could die any day. Will Ripley is in Perth following developments. A short time ago, he had this report.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: -- right now. It's called the HMS Echo. It has sonar equipment, which means it can listen in the water. And we're told that on Friday, this ship, with that equipment, is going to be conducting a specific search. That means it's not random, but it's going somewhere to look for something specific. What that is, we just don't know right now.

We also know that there is going to be a -- what's described as a big operations news conference coming from Angus Houston, who's coordinating the search effort here. That also happening sometime on Friday.

And CNN's also learned that the Ocean Shield, that Australian ship which is equipped with high-tech tools from the US navy, will be arriving in the search zone overnight. So, within the next few hours, presumably, this ship will be in place, ready to deploy those two high-tech tools, the underwater listening device and the underwater drone that can scan the ocean floor.

So, we're going to have a lot of technology arriving in the search area on Friday, not only the Ocean Shield and the Echo, but we also have a British submarine there as well. All of these tools in place to listen and observe and hopefully find some evidence that will help solve the disappearance of Flight 370.

But again, so far, as we've been following this case for weeks, there have been promising leads that have turned out to be nothing, so we don't want to overstate the importance of this. But there are definitely some new developments that are happening right now, developments that we will be continuing to monitor.

Will Ripley, CNN, Perth.


MANN: Authorities are obviously continuing to devote massive resources to the search, but for the families of the missing, every day without a breakthrough, well, it just prolongs their pain. Some are waiting for word in the Malaysian capital, and they have a lot of questions that are going unanswered.

Senior Washington correspondent Joe Johns is in Kuala Lumpur with more, and he joins us now. Joe, I gather there has been another briefing. Anything to emerge from that?

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jonathan, this was a briefing by Malaysian officials for the Malaysian family members of people on the plane.

Ad we were told by one family member, in fact, the cousin of one of the honeymooners who got on the plane, that the officials gave them just a general sense of things that they already knew and said the officials would not -- were not even able to tell them whether the plane crash-landed or somehow landed on its own.

No certainty coming out of that meeting, and that one individual expressing to us a lot of frustration and questioning even whether the briefing was a waste of time, Jonathan.

MANN: I hate to say it, but it sounds like we've heard this before. We've heard about these unhelpful briefings and the anger and the frustration and the disappointment of the families, but it seems that some of the families now are setting a new tone, focusing in on some very specific questions that they want answered. What can you tell us about that?

JOHNS: That's absolutely right. A meeting -- a briefing just yesterday with the Chinese families, they came in with something like 15 very specific technical questions that they wanted the authorities to answer, and when they didn't get the answers they wanted, they actually went public with those questions.

And when they still didn't get the answers, they actually issued a statement saying they had been fooled again and accusing the Malaysian officials of trickery. This is something Malaysian officials have denied again and again. They say they're doing everything they can to try to keep the families informed, Jonathan.

MANN: What kind of technical questions did they have?

JOHNS: Very interesting technical questions, I think. They wanted a delineation of the specific flight path of the plane, they even wanted a three-dimensional illustration of that flight path. So, they also wanted an analysis of the varying scenarios in which the plane could have flown based on the pings from the satellites, and they wanted to be able to compare all of those.

So, they're asking for very specific technical details from the authorities, and the authorities are, frankly, saying they're not certain about so much, they're only giving them the information they can give them. Because as we all know, if they knew that much about the plane, they would have fond it by now.

MANN: I'm still curious about the questions, because it sounds like more than just the work of grieving relatives. Lay people don't even know the right kinds of questions to ask.

JOHNS: Sure.

MANN: Are they being advised? Are their attorneys generating these questions?

JOHNS: Well, that's the big question, and I have talked to some officials who have dealt with other plane crashes in the United States who say they have every reason to believe that lawyers have helped pose some of those questions in anticipation of litigation, though I have to tell you quite frankly, that's speculation and we have not been able to confirm that.

MANN: Joe Johns, live from Kuala Lumpur. Thanks very much. And of course, we'll be bringing you up to date with any new developments in the search as we learn them. You can always find out more on our website at

Live from CNN Center, you're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. Coming up, should prostitution be legalized? And if so, how? We'll debate the issue with a sex worker and a member of the European parliament who has plans.


MANN: Welcome back, I'm Jonathan Mann, this is CONNECT THE WORLD, and we're addressing a very old issue about the world's oldest profession. Lawmakers in the United Kingdom are currently debating the legal status of sex workers.

In the UK, prostitution itself is legal, but all activities related to it are considered criminal, such as owning a brothel or soliciting prostitutes from a car. The legal debate started after a European parliament report advocated a wider adoption of a Swedish reform that prosecutes people who buy sex rather than those who sell it.

According to the report, between 40 and 42 million people work in the global sex trade, 75 percent of those are between the ages of 13 and 25, and in Europe, one in seven prostitutes are victims of human trafficking.

So, what's the best way forward? Legalize the sex trade? Should people buying sex be treated as criminals? Mary Honeyball is the member of the European parliament who proposed the bill. She joins us now, along with Lara Lee, a sex workers' rights advocate from Scotland.

Ladies, thank you so much for being with us. Mary Honeyball, I wonder if we could start with you. Ideally, what is your goal? Is it to eliminate prostitution, diminish it as much as possible?

MARY HONEYBALL, MEMBER OF EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT: Well, the goal of my report, really, is -- and it is a very longterm goal -- is to reduce demand for prostitution.

And I should say that my report, which went through the European parliament a few weeks ago, is not legislative. It's what we call in the European parliament an initiative report, which means it is now the policy of the European policy. But we're nowhere near actually getting legislation on this matter at the moment across Europe.

Also, in the United Kingdom, the -- a group in the House of Commons, an all-party parliamentary group, has recently produced a report of their own advocating the same things I am, which is the Swedish model, which is, as you rightly say, where it would be the buyer of sexual services, which in almost every case is a man, it will be him who is criminalized.

MANN: Lara Lee, what do you think? You're in the business.

LARA LEE, SEX WORKERS' RIGHTS ADVOCATE: I am, yes. I have been in the business for a very long time. I think the crux of this problem seems to be a lack of information or some bad statistics being used.

For instance, the vast majority of women are trafficked. They're not. The average age of entry is 13/14, that's also not true. Seventy percent of sex workers right now are mothers, like me, single mothers trying to feed our kids in a recession, and I would like to ask Mary Honeyball if she's going to pay my mortgage when she makes 80,000 sex workers unemployed.

HONEYBALL: Well, I didn't actually say that the vast majority of those working in prostitution have been trafficked, but I do know from European Union statistics that of those people, men and women, who are trafficked within the European Union, 62 percent of them are women trafficked for sexual services.

So, a huge number of those working in prostitution in Europe and, I believe, across the world, have been trafficked. So, trafficking is a massive problem.

And of course, I'm very concerned about them, because they are women who are forced into prostitution against their will. And trafficking has been called modern slavery, and I think that is actually right, and that's how we view them --


MANN: I want to jump in on that very point, because it seems to be the crucial point that separates people on two sides of this issue. Some people see sex workers like service workers. They provide a service and they earn an income for it.

Other people, as we've just heard, regard them inevitably as victims. They're exploited, they're assaulted at a young age, they're forced into this kind of work. Lara Lee, are you a victim? Are the women and men you know victims?

LEE: No, I'm most certainly not a victim. I never have been and never will be, and the vast majority of sex workers -- Mary Honeyball is very fond of saying that we must legislate for the majority. I absolutely agree, but I am the majority. That's what we need to get our heads around.

It's because of the stigma around the industry that more people don't speak out. And just today, I've been speaking to some sex workers here in Perth in Scotland who very bravely stood up against a rapist.

We need to decriminalize this industry right now so that sex workers can work together for safety and security. Under the current regime, Mary Honeyball is saying that she's not criminalizing the women. That's not true. Until we are allowed to work together for safety, we are in danger, and that's not acceptable.


HONEYBALL: I want to --

MANN: I want to ask you a question, Mary Honeyball. I'm sorry, I'm going to interrupt, because there are precedents for this. Prostitution is not the only dirty, disagreeable, dangerous kind of work that women are forced into, and it's not the only work of that kind.

Coal mining for a long time attracted people who had no other options, and it was dangerous work and it was dirty and unappealing, and the government didn't make coal mining illegal. It did its best to make it safe. It's still doing that every day. Is coal mining all that different from prostitution? Should it be illegal?

HONEYBALL: Well, I do think that coal mining is extremely different from prostitution. If you ask somebody what they do for a living, and they say, "I'm a coal miner," that's fine, everybody accepts that and understands that.

If you ask a woman -- and this isn't stigmatizing -- if you ask a woman what she does, most women working in prostitution would be very reluctant to say that that's what they do.

And I do not believe for the vast majority of women in prostitution -- and I've actually talked to a lot in the course of my research -- I do not believe that most of them are like Lara. I think Lara is pretty exceptional. Most of them have been trafficked, they're doing it against their will.

A lot of them -- and there are statistics to show this -- an awful lot of women in prostitution have faced abuse, sexual abuse and other abuse, particularly when they're growing up. A lot of them have come from care homes and that kind of background.

And of course, there are also those women in prostitution who do it because they live in poverty, and it seems to them to be the only way of earning a living.


MANN: Lara Lee, most of the statistics --

HONEYBALL: I think as a society that --

MANN: -- seem to agree with what she's saying. That's the striking thing. People gasp when you say publicly "I am a sex worker" because so few of us know anyone who wants to admit to doing that kind of work. And every bit of social research I've ever read suggest that most of the women who do it are in dire straits or they would never even think of it.

LEE: No, they're not. Again, we have to appreciate the fact that we're in the middle of a recession, and women will do what they need to do to put food on the table for their kids. Whether the women are there coercion or by their own will, they need to attract the same levels of protection of the law, and that is not currently happening. The vast majority of women are not trafficked. I repeat, not trafficked.

HONEYBALL: Well, I would dispute that, because that's not the statistics that I've come across within the EU. And I would actually like --


LEE: (inaudible)

HONEYBALL: -- that the European Union views trafficking and sex trafficking, trafficking for sexual services, as such an issue that they have appointed an anti-trafficking coordinator. So, the EU does think it's an issue and does think it needs to be dealt with.

MANN: One of the things that --

LEE: Trafficking does happen and it needs to be stamped out, there's no doubt about that whatsoever. But what you must bear in mind is under current UK legislation, if I'm paying for an airfare for one of my girlfriends to fly down to join me in London, I'm therefore deemed to have trafficked her, so your statistics are skewed.

And the statistics that you're relying on were issued by the Poppy Project and based on an extremely flawed report --


HONEYBALL: The statistics I'm relying on were issued by the European Union, Lara. They were -- they're nothing to do with any of the NGOs working in this country, and I think we should get this straight.

I don't think it's helpful anyway to go down this route too much, because so much of prostitution is underground, it's hidden, inevitably it is, so we can debate figures forevermore, and it really doesn't get us very far.

But what I would say is that I think you are unusual. I do not think the majority of women working in prostitution in this country or across Europe take the view that you take. I think an awful lot of them are trafficked, an awful lot of them do it out of poverty, an awful lot of them do it because they've suffered abuse.

MANN: I'm going to jump in and give Lara Lee the last word on this. If the government's going to get involved, what should it do?


LEE: The government needs to decriminalize -- excuse me. The government needs to decriminalize right now and to recognize the fact that sex workers' rights are humans rights and we are entitled to the same labor rights and the same protections as any other employee.

HONEYBALL: Well, I certainly think that women working in prostitution need protection. And in the report that I wrote for the European parliament, I talked a lot about safety and a lot about health and health care. So, I certainly would agree with that.

But that doesn't actually change the fact that prostitution -- I believe that we should be working towards reducing demand, and I think that my report advocating that buyers of sexual services should be the ones who are criminalized actually takes us further down that route towards what I want to see as the ultimate goal.

MANN: What is the astonishing thing to me --


LEE: I think we should be working towards --

MANN: -- is that people like yourselves --

LEE: -- reducing poverty.

MANN: -- who know this subject so well and who care so passionately about it really read the evidence in very different ways and obviously don't agree. We're grateful. We're grateful for your time. Lara Lee and Mary Honeyball, thanks so much for talking with us.

LEE: Thank you.

MANN: Having heard all of that, what do you think? Should the proposal go ahead? The team here at CONNECT THE WORLD wants to hear from you,, have your say.

And tweet me, @JonathanMannCNN. I've got my thoughts on this matter. It's a complex topic, astonishing disagreement from the most-informed people you'll hear from. But tweet me, send me your thoughts @JonathanMannCNN.

Coming up after a short break on CONNECT THE WORLD, FC Barcelona comes out swinging. FIFA has slapped the club with a transfer ban until next year. We'll tell you how far they're willing to fight it, next.


MANN: Welcome back. To football, now. Barcelona says it will fight a transfer ban slapped on the club by FIFA. Football's world governing body punished the Spanish champs for breaking the rules over signing ten players who were under the age of 18.

Barca has been banned from the next two transfer windows, which means they can't buy or sell players until Europe's summertime next year. Lara Baldesarra is here now with details. Explain this to me. Why did they do it?

LARA BALDESARRA, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Well, the ban -- Barcelona has been found in breach of Rule 19 by FIFA which, like you said, does not allow the international transfer of players into a club or a country or what have you, and Barcelona was found guilty of 10 players, bringing them in, who were underage. Underage in this case is 18 years old.

So now, this is a big deal for Barcelona, because for the next two transfer windows, which in football is when you can buy or sell players, you can improve your squad, which is something you need to do every single year and in every single window. They're not going to be able to. And right now, they have two big holes on their team that they really need to fill.

However, I will say this: Barcelona plans on appealing this ban, and if that happens, then that ban could actually be pushed while the whole appeal process is in action, which would mean that this summer transfer window that's coming up, Barcelona could fill in some of those holes that they really need to fill in, and they can prepare for the possibility of the transfer ban if it is upheld.

MANN: What are they saying? If they really did do this, they knew they were doing it.

BALDESARRA: Well, sure. It's hard to argue that Barcelona didn't know what they were doing. The rules are there.

But at the same time, Barca argues -- and the main part of their argument is that FIFA has these regulations set up in order to protect the child welfare of these players that are brought in because they don't want just the sporting aspects of the players to be looked after and just their sporting talents to be exploited. They want to kids to be treated with care and properly.

And Barcelona's youth club, it's called La Masia, this is something that's simply world-renowned. This brings in kids from all over the world, it gives them health care, it gives them proper training, it gives them education.

Essentially, it gives them all of the tools to have a successful happy life that they might not be receiving from wherever they're from, especially because a lot of these kids, they're from underdeveloped or developing countries. So, Barcelona is actually doing a great thing for a lot of these kids out there. Now of course, at the same time, they're helping improve their squad.

MANN: But it's a good thing overall. What are other teams saying? Are they happy to see the playing ground leveled, or are they concerned that they may get hit the same way?

BALDESARRA: You know something? I've got to say that a lot of Premier League clubs, they must be shaking in their boots right now, because over the past two decades, Premier League clubs, they've been -- they've become renowned for kind of scouting the world and bringing in and finding all of these young kids and future potential prodigies.

And so now, if Barcelona, who is the biggest club in the world, let's say, that's held to such high esteem, if they are being singled out and the hammer is falling on them, these Premier League clubs, they must be saying, uh-oh, what about us? Are we clean? Did we do any of this? Are we going to get away with it?

MANN: This is going to hit the sport at the highest level --


MANN: -- across it.

BALDESARRA: It certainly will. There's no question about it whatsoever. It's a really, really big deal, and I'm interested to see now what happens when they appeal to FIFA, and then if it's taken to the court of arbitration to explore it.

MANN: Lara Baldesarra, thanks very much.

BALDESARRA: Thank you.

MANN: And in tonight's Parting Shots, the US president and the first lady are hosting American Olympians and Paralympians at the White House right now. Barack Obama congratulated the athletes for their performance at the Sochi Games. Team USA, of course, finished fourth overall in the medal tally at Sochi and eight in the Winter Paralympics.

I'm Jonathan Mann, you've been watching CONNECT THE WORLD. This is CNN, thanks for being with us.