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CONNECT THE WORLD

Why is Yemen So Important?; Hundreds of Asylum Seekers Rescued From Mediterranean; ISIS Attacks Ramadi; High Tech Camel Racing. Aired 11:00a- 12:00p ET

Aired April 15, 2015 - 11:00   ET

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


[11:00:16] BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Rare access to a war-torn city as CNN takes to you to the outskirts of Sanaa to see the result of three weeks

of airstrikes and next to no humanitarian aid to civilians.

CNN's senior international correspondent Nick Paton Walsh just back from Sanaa bring us his firsthand account this hour.

Also ahead, we're live on the docks in Sicily as hundreds of asylum seekers take their first steps onto European soil. It's a trip that many

don't survive and we look at the extent of that growing crisis this hour.

Plus...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a modern-day camel jockey. It's a robot that weighs just over three kilograms or so. On the front here it's got a

walkee talkee so that the owners can speak with their camel during the race. And if the camel falls behind also remote controlled.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Tradition meets modernity on the camel race track here in the UAE.

ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Abu Dhabi, this is Connect the World with Becky Anderson.

ANDERSON: A very good evening. It is just after 7:00 here in the UAE. A brief ceasefire has allowed critical humanitarian aid to reach

Sanaa, but it is just a tiny fraction of what's needed after weeks of war.

We begin tonight with an exclusive look at the destruction in Yemen and the desperate efforts to help the millions of civilians in need.

CNN's Nick Paton Walsh got firsthand look at the situation. He flew in to Sanaa on a UNICEF plane carrying food and medical supplies. He said

it is remarkable that the runway is still intact since much of the airport has been destroyed by the fighting. He joins us now back here in Abu Dhabi.

Just describe the scenes that you witnessed?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, very brief exposure we had to the airport itself. That airplane, the UNICEF aid jet,

really allowed two hours on the ground. That was even cut short. Lengthy negotiations to get there. And our report contains footage which people

filming on our behalf inside Sanaa where we were not able to go gathered on our behalf. Gives a rare look at what life has really been like during

that bombing campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WALSH: Bringing help shouldn't be this hard. The runway nearly all that's intact here after three weeks of bombing. A miracle, almost, the

concrete and time as found for the planes to land.

Well, they have landed in the scene of devastation here. This really the only way in to the Yemeni capital. And it's being used for these vital

supplies. This is a country so many of whom do not have food or water and whose injured are badly in need of medicine, this from UNICEF, frankly a

drop in the ocean of help that is needed.

And this is where it has to get, little Zahra (ph) whose parents brought her to hospital, because she wouldn't stop crying since the bombing

began.

The dead here, neighbors weren't alive and lying close, still, here, the only hospital they he could be brought where medicine is scarce.

This is a large factory complex in Hadaida (ph) where the bombs fell repeatedly in early April. One thing a bombing campaign can't avoid is to

anger those it hits. And these are ordinary Yemenis still regardless of their sympathies.

"37 people were killed here," he says, "burned to death. This is a crime. What was the diesel storage facility trying to do to them?"

"All this is to ruin the Yemeni people," another says. "We say to the Saudis this is the safety you're providing to the people of Yemen?"

Here, in Bani Matar (ph), a Houthi area near the capital, there have been two attacks, locals say. The United States is assisting in targeting.

Saudi Arabia says it avoids civilians casualties, but the UN still says hundreds of died.

Locals say there were no military targets here as they pick through the remnants of their lives.

"They came with bombs," he says. "Is this a Houthi?"

Down here in the dust, the bombs do not win back territory for the government of departed President Hadi.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): There are dead bodies on the streets, god rest their souls.

These scenes far from the world's helping hand. And on the one aid flight we left on, we saw below how shattered this already broken country

now is.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

[11:05:07] WALSH: Well, remarkable, Becky, to see quite how complicated it was for that small fraction of the aid that's required to be

delivered. We were talking millions of people desperately in need. And that was 75 metric tons, but it's barely enough.

ANDERSON: What sort of difference is this UN security council resolution on the arms embargo on the Houthi rebels and the Saleh

militiamen do you think?

WALSH: In the long-term possibly that'll make it complex, because those who may be assisting in the act of arms trafficking towards them will

be cut short in that. There was some symbolism there in that Russia you'd normally expect to veto things at the security council abstained. Now they

back Iran who back the Houthis most say. So that could be some sort of signal perhaps towards negotiation.

But the big hole in that security council resolution, it left nothing organized for humanitarian aid. It said Ban-ki Moon, UN secretary-general,

try and sort that out and get the windows going.

It hasn't really had any impact on the ground at this stage. The Houthis have the weapons they need to be progressing. They seem to be

still a dominate force here. They have a lot of Yemeni military hardware they've managed to take in the past few months. It doesn't really look

like we're going to see a change simply because of a vote that happened in New York.

ANDERSON: And three weeks in. Nick, thank you.

Nic is joining us later in show. We're going to have a lot more on Yemen this hour, including some context for what is this very complex war.

Why do so many countries feel they have a stake in the fight? We're going to explain how power struggle in the world's poorest Arab country

escalated into what seems to be a proxy war drawing in the entire region.

And then we'll focus on Saudi Arabia's leading role in the effort to bomb Iranian allied Houthi rebels into submission.

CNN's Nic Robertson goes on patrol with the Saudi military near the Yemeni border. That coming up later in the show.

Well, moving now to Italy, which has become the destination for a rising number of asylum seekers fleeing violence in the Middle East and in

Africa. In only four days, nearly 8,500 migrants have been rescued off Italy's coast. You're looking at a group that was brought to safety in

Sicily just a day ago.

But not everyone is able to complete what is this very dangerous voyage across the Mediterranean.

It appears there's been a new tragedy as well involving a large group of asylum seekers from North Africa, some 400 are said to be missing after

their ship went down off the coast of Libya.

CNN's Ben Wedeman joins us now from Sicily. What do we know at this point, Ben?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, what we understand from the UNHCR is that this ship, a fairly large one by the

standards of the vessels that get people from Libya, the northern African coast to Italy, this ship apparently capsized. It had around 550 people on

it. According to the UNHCR, it was crammed with migrants. The Italian navy and other vessels managed to rescue about 150 people, but 400 remain

missing. And given the conditions out on the Mediterranean their fate is not looking too good at the moment.

Now, we saw a luckier group today of 117 migrants who were picked up by an Italian tugboat that normally services oil rigs off the Libyan coast.

They picked up 117 people, most of them from Gambia and Nigeria. And we watched as they were processed by representatives of the Italian health

ministry. The police in fact there just behind me.

Now this group of people, which included 31 women, they have been fed. They've been provided with shoes in some cases, and we understand that

they're going to be moved to Turin in northern Italy some time this evening or tomorrow morning.

But certainly this seems to be almost a daily occurrence on the Italian coast.

We understand at this point that since the beginning of this past weekend, as many as 10,000 migrants have arrived on the Italian shores.

Last year, 3,200 people were killed making this crossing across the Mediterranean. And if you go back to the year 2000 until now, according to

the International Organization for Migration, around 22,000 people have died in that crossing -- Becky.

ANDERSON: I was looking at what are these tragic statistics today. And lets remember these are people we're talking about here. I was looking

at the stats today, and a considerable number of those who are rescued and/or make it to Italy are unaccompanied minors. Just give us a sense of

the sort of experiences these men, women and children are going through and what happens to them next?

[11:09:58] WEDEMAN: Well, we spoke to some of them on this particular ship that came in here this afternoon, there were no children. But they

have various reasons. Some people say, you know, they're coming from Gambia, which of course at the moment is not suffering from a war or

anything, but people say we have no future. My parents have no money. I have no job. I have no prospects for a job, and therefore I'm willing to

take the risk of perhaps dying in the Mediterranean to get here.

And I spoke to another woman from northern Nigeria. She said she was fleeing from Boko Haram.

And of course they come with nothing, some of them not even any shoes, but they have hope. They have the hope of somehow finding a job.

Now they're going to be moved, this group, to Turin in northern Italy. And they're going to be put up in camps where they will be provided with

food, with shelter, with medical care. But in terms of a future, a real future -- a job, the ability to raise a family, that's very unsure at the

moment.

And also you have to keep in mind the political climate as well. Increasingly, Europeans are saying we don't have the economic capacity to

absorb all these people. Many of these countries like Italy already undergoing austerity. They say there just aren't the jobs, there aren't

the resources to take care of them -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Yeah, Ben Wedeman in Sicily for you this evening. Thank you, Ben.

Well, just weeks after they captured Tikrit from ISIS, Iraqi forces now find themselves on the brink of losing another city to the terror

group.

In recent days fighting has escalated in Ramadi located just over 100 kilometers west of Baghdad.

Now a government official there says it's not clear how much longer Iraqi forces can hold the front lines. It comes as prime minister Haider

al-Abadi is in Washington looking for more U.S. military and financial help.

Well, Arwa Damon has just returned to Baghdad and she joins us now on the line.

This is a much bigger city in which if ISIS were to secure it would greatly upset their losses that they incurred earlier this month.

What have you witnessed? And what are the implications of an ISIS victory here?

ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we were actually trying to reach the city of Ramadi earlier today. We were understandably

unable to do so, because early this morning ISIS fighters did manage to move in and launch an attack on the eastern outskirts of Ramadi.

This is something that locals fear Iraqi security forces, even the provincial governor had been warning of for days if not weeks, begging for

assistance from the Iraqi government, asking for those U.S.-led coalition airstrikes to take place, warning that if that did not happen, the city of

Ramadi would eventually fall to ISIS.

And earlier today, he was saying that that concern was now becoming a reality. The last we were able to get ahold of him, he was in a very dire

situation, was saying that he could not speak that long. He himself had picked up a weapon and was joining a security detail on the front line.

He also ran into the masses of refugees that were fleeing that eastern part of Ramadi, carrying whatever it was that they could -- children piled

into metal carts being pushed across a bridge that vehicles were not allowed on.

The only access route from Ramadi to Baghdad also being pushed across the bridge in these carts were the elderly. One old woman we went over to

speak to her immediately burst into tears. And she couldn't even express herself.

People are desperate and absolutely terrified...

ANDERSON: Well, we're struggling with the communications with Arwa there who, though, was explaining that they were trying earlier today to

reach the city of Ramadi, quite possibly in the next 48 hours the city could fall into the hands of ISIS. And as I said, that would greatly make

up for the losses that they occurred as Tikrit was taken back from them just the beginning of this month.

Citizens there, it is reported as well, terrified not just by ISIS, but by Sunni citizens terrified by the Shia militia will quite possibly

will be fighting along the Iraqi, alongside Iraqi forces in order to try and secure that city. A very complicated situation on the ground. And on

CNN, you'll get more from Arwa as we once again get communications with her in the hours to come.

Well, coming up this hour, we'll be hearing some more perspectives on the situation in Italy and the rise in asylum seekers, including some from

those who actually made the journey, risking everything for the chance of a better future they tell us. That in about 25 minutes.

First up, though, as the bombs keep falling and the gun battles rage in Yemen. I want to examine why what happens in this country means so much

to others beyond its borders.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:17:32] ANDERSON: Welcome back. A rare positive sight in the chaos that is Yemen: aid offloaded as that short-term ceasefire allows

aircraft to land what's left of Sanaa's international airport. But relief must be tempered with realism. And the reality is that these supplies will

only reach a fraction of the people who need them.

The United Nations estimates more than 120,000 people have been displaced by violence in Yemen over the past three weeks. And as long as

the conflict continues, the humanitarian crisis clearly will only escalate.

But with wars raging across this region, and indeed in other places in the world, why should the world care so much about Yemen? Why does this

impoverished country at the tip of the Arabain peninsula hold so much importance?

Well, Nick Paton Walsh, as we mentioned, is just back from Sanaa and joins me live in the studio.

Let's have a look at the conflict and the key players and set some context for us, if you will.

Before you do that, I just want to take our viewers through the statistics, as it were, on the ground here.

Let's take a look, firstly, at the population: 26 million people, life expectancy 65 years, 65 percent Sunni, 35 percent Shia.

The geography: Saudi Arabian border up here, the Oman border here, the Bab al Mandeb Strait here. Incredibly important strategic waterway, of

course.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's really in many ways the key thing about this, I think. A lot of western sources

you'd speak to. But things were moving a lot faster earlier on this year in terms of the politics of this were worried that if the Houthis did move

south from where their strongholds are up here towards here and take control of that, the concern I heard was effectively that's Iran

controlling this key oil route in and out of the Red Sea here.

Now of course you could debate how much the Iranians are behind the Houthis. They certainly are to some degree. But I think what's fueling a

lot of concerns here -- and it is so vitally strategic not just the energy sector, but also because of the fate of Saudi Arabia in so many ways hangs

upon how stable Yemen can be. They have the (inaudible) divide. This didn't start out that way, but it's heading that way.

Saudi Arabia mostly Sunni, but does have a small pocket of Shia to its east, which potentially could be problematic as well. And I think that is

one of the key reasons why this is geographically such an issue.

ANDERSON: You're going to talk us through the internal and then external actors as it were just shortly. Let's just have a quick look at

the economy here.

GDP per capita 3,500 or nearly 4,000 dollars a year. When you compare those numbers to that of Saudi Arabia, its northern neighbor, it's quite

ridiculous. 33.5 percent unemployment, that's an official statistic, one would expect that it would be much higher than that.

[11:20:15] WALSH: From a government which isn't really in existence. I don't know quite where the number came around, but I think you could

probably add a few numbers to it at this stage.

But that's so emblematic of the failing states, or failed states in this region. They simply don't have the jobs or the infrastructure to keep

up with the expansion of their population over the past couple of decades.

ANDERSON: What goes on in Yemen doesn't stay in Yemen, we've learned that over the past few weeks. Take me through, though, the -- this is such

a complex story on the ground. So take me through the internal players, as you will.

WALSH: I don't pretend to make it any less complex. The Houthis, it's true to say, that they have Iranian backing. I mean, I've had

officials suggest even Hezbollah have been involved in assisting them somehow. There's no evidence to that effect at this stage...

ANDERSON: The Saudis will tell you there is, but...

WALSH: Absolutely. And they clearly at this point have got their act together substantially.

There's been a decade-long fight between the Houthis in some areas, conflict with the government. But in the last months or so, in the last

sort of six to nine months, massively more disciplined. They swept into the capital last year, put up checkpoints. Some said that's the most

disciplined and orderly it had been in a very long time. People felt safe.

But of course that began to lapse. They wanted more power, pushed President Hadi out.

They are Shia. That isn't really how they characterize themselves. There's a mix of tribes in here. There's a mix of religion as well. They

are a different version of Shia than many of them are than the Iranians. So it's deeply complex pile of Yemeni identity here. And I think

(inaudible) couch why this is being Sunni/Shia or Irani and Saudi. But that tends to I think dissolve the importance to them.

ANDERSON: That's right. OK. And I know you make a very good point.

So why do they frighten the Saudis as much as they do?

WALSH: Because potentially they have Iranian backing. They could be perceived as an Iranian proxy. And quite clearly before Lausanne and the

peace deal rose more evidently, there were more western officials were willing to hype up the notion of Iran really being behind the Houthis than

they are now. That's massively diluted in the past month or so, interesting to note.

He, big figure in the background, absolutely. I remember standing here in 2011 announcing his quiet decision to step back from the scene.

Then they wanted a transitional process, a lot of hope in this man to try and somehow keep things together. And now I think he was very much a hope

for the west for awhile, but hamstrung by the nature of what he inherited, hamstrung by the constant presence of Saleh in the background and these

guys too.

Now if you need a reason why Yemen matters. If you are sat at home in the west or Europe, that is clearly it. This is a key ground for them.

They are considered potentially the most relevant actor in terms of attacking the west or Europe. Remember the Charlie Hebdo attacks.

Well, there are pretty clear signs they go back to them. So they are potentially are big winners out of all this mess.

ANDERSON: As we move on to the external actors, I just want to ask you one question. How big a footprint do you think AQAP has in Yemen? And

how big a footprint in ISIS, who have certainly emerged as a concern in Yemen have?

WALSH: AQAP have a huge -- I mean, not huge -- they have a lot of control within tribes. They have a lot of people affiliated and aligned

with them. There are areas, which are very sympathetic too them. It isn't simply a case if you go through one area and a flag pops up. There are

people who support them, people who give them facilities.

They are organized. They are launching an appeal, a campaign of sorts right now. And that is because ISIS have popped up here.

Now they're kind of (inaudible) fluid in that moment. People are worried about the attacks on the mosques which happened I think about two,

three weeks ago preceding the Saudi campaign significantly. That was claimed by ISIS.

Many thought they really have the capability, the logistics to carry something as brutal as that out. They had all their hallmarks, certainly,

attacking mosques, something AQAP said they weren't necessarily going to do.

But that was a surprise. But it was certainly a calling card saying we're here.

ANDERSON: AQAP, where are these people? Otherwise...

WALSH: I think many (inaudible) at this stage probably (inaudible) Saudi government given where it is at the moment.

But, yes, obviously they hail from Wahabbi backgrounds. That's close to a lot of the ideology that you often seen appearing in Saudi Arabia,

too. And Saudi society is fragile. I mean, there's a lot of wealth there, but there's also poverty of some degree as well.

ANDERSON: I'm going to leave Iran out because you've talked about Iran. I want to bring in Oman at this point, because perhaps some of our

viewers will be slightly less well informed than perhaps others are as to why these guys matter.

WALSH: If there is potentially somebody who can come in and slow this down, it might be them. It might be that relatively back (inaudible) state

off to the east. They share interests with key people here.

But at this stage, it doesn't really look like we're talking about negotiation, forgive me, we're talking about a UN security council just

past in which there wasn't really enough of a humanitarian corridor principle put inside there as well. There was an armed blockade, but no

suggestion of a political process to go forward, just a call for one.

ANDERSON: And the U.s.

WALSH: Well, surprisingly, in fact frankly given the mess in the region here at the moment, they have been pretty straightforward in their

commitment towards the Saudi campaign. And there's probably a lot more going on behind the scenes in terms of the assistance militarily they're

providing to the Saudis to some degree. They're talking about targeting -- there's a search and rescue operation they assisted in, too.

I mean, they have skin in the game to some degree in assisting the Saudis here, and that potentially because they've backing up a long-term

military ally at a time of great change in the region. They're also cozying up to Iran. So perhaps this is one way of making Riyadh a little

bit more comfortable.

[11:25:25] ANDERSON: Nick Paton Walsh on the story for you.

And there is a lot more ahead.

We're going to take you on patrol with the Saudi army just across the border from the front lines in Yemen. Do stay with us for that.

First, though, up tonight. An Ethiopian entrepreneur builds on her country's traditions. And her products may be coming to a store near you.

African startup follows this very short break. Back after that.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ethiopia is one of the largest livestock producing countries in Africa. With around 52 million cattle, it produces

more than 2.7 million hides annually. Within this world renowned leather industry, Harut Delecca (ph) found a niche producing handmade leather

accessories for export.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My company name is Sugar Sugar (ph) means like short trip (ph). When I was working my own business out of the home, I go

to different place to take an order. That's short trip (ph) for me.

We do women's jacket. We do a men's jacket. We do earrings, (inaudible) and different things.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Delecca (ph) worked as a designer in a leather company before leaving in 2007 to start her own business. She had three

employees when she started. Today, she has 15.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My starting business is $2,700. And to find that money it was difficult. When I was working in the house, I collect

that money.

Then, after I got that money, I started my business.

They are making purse today, handmade. We call it (inaudible). We have a 50 piece order. And we are making today.

The difference between leather and fabric is interesting. Fabric is easy for (inaudible), but for leather it's difficult. After you make once

you can't -- that's just it. (inaudible), if it's bigger, no problem.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She mainly sells her products locally, but has also broken into foreign markets.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Most of our customers, they are from Scandinavian countries. They like this product. This is also (inaudible).

The people, they use this for work like laptop.

My challenges are to get accessories like zipper, (inaudible), we can't find here (inaudible).

When I see now this workshop and zipper are coming to me I feel happy.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:32:33] ANDERSON: This is Connect the World with me Becky Anderson. The top stories for you this hour here on CNN.

The Italian Coast Guard still trying to determine the fate of some 400 migrants believed to be missing from a shipwreck off the coast of Libya.

We're told that a tugboat in the area rescued more than 100 people from the ship that went down in that vicinity. Well, in recent days, Italy has

rescued more than 8,000 people fleeing turmoil in Africa and in the Middle East.

Fierce fighting reported between Iraqi forces and ISIS in the city of Ramadi located just over 100 kilometers west of Baghdad. A government

official says there is -- it's not clear just how much longer Iraqi forces can hold the front lines.

The UK's Liberal Democrats have released their free election manifesto. Their party leader Nick Clegg says he wants to form a coalition

with either Labour or the Conservatives that will not lurch off to the extremes. Quote. The UK Independence Party also unveiled its position,

promising a quick referendum on Britain's membership to the European Union.

Iran's foreign minister said his country will need his influence in the region to end the violence in Yemen. Reuters reporting that he told

reporters that he would work to broker a peace deal that would end Saudi- led airstrikes and prevent al Qaeda from taking advantage of what is a power vacuum in the country.

Well, a new statement from Egypt suggested the Saudi-led coalition may be planning to ramp up the war, not scale back. It said Egypt and Saudi

Arabia have discussed staging a, quote, major military maneuver inside the kingdom along with other Gulf states.

Saudi troops have been patrolling the border with Yemen, determined to prevent the conflict from spilling over.

Nic Robertson picks up that part of the story for you.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTSON (voice-over): More cameras than tanks. For the first time since air strikes began, Saudi Arabia's army is giving access to

journalists. For local reporters, the army is a point of national pride.

(SHOUTING)

(GUNFIRE)

ROBERTSON: Big guns --

(GUNFIRE)

ROBERTSON: -- banging out big shells into Yemen. For now, this army standing back to fight.

GEN. MERRE SALIM AL SHAHRANI, SAUDI ARABIAN ARMY (through translator): We don't have orders to move forward. Right now, we are in a defensive

position. We don't have any order to go on the offensive for now.

ROBERTSON: When it comes to sustaining the fight, Saudi Arabia has deep pockets. It's the world's third-largest defense spender behind the

United States and China. According to the Institute of Strategic Studies, it spends 10 percent of GDP on defense. That's a massive $80.8 billion.

The desert kingdom has more than 400,000 servicemen. 225,000 in the army, 125,000 National Guard, 30,000 each in the navy and air force, but is

still looking for partners to bolster its coalition. Pakistan recently declined a request for troops.

On the static frontlines that we visited, looking down on to shut-up Yemeni villages a long, drawn out fight is looming.

[11:35:44] (on camera): Commanders here say the problem they face in those Yemeni villages is that they can't tell who's a fighter and who's a

civilian. They say they all dress the same.

SHAHRANI (through translator)): We face threats from armed groups. They use small vehicles mounted with guns. In these mountains they are hard

to reach.

ROBERTSON: On the mountain tops, more fire power is being used, and it seems often. Fresh shell casings liter the ground by this machine

gunner. His responsibility, as far as he can see.

But this is a long border. 800 kilometers, 600 miles. Summer, and its scorching heat is coming and, as yet, no sign the enemy is ready to quit.

Nic Robertson, CNN, on the Saudi-Yemen border.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: One factor that could affect the outcome of this crisis is a new UN security council resolution that Nic and I were -- Nick Paton

Walsh and I -- were speaking about earlier. Visit the website CNN.com to find out how an arms embargo could impact the Houthi cause. We've got

expert analysis on that along with all the latest developments in the ongoing conflict. That is on the digital site CNN.com.

Well, live from Abu Dhabi, this is Connect the World.

Coming up, risking everything for a better future. The hopes of asylum seekers crossing the Mediterranean to reach Europe. That's up next.

And you're looking at one of the most popular sports here in the UAE. How the centuries old tradition of camel racing has become high tech,

multimillion dollar industry.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: Well, a rising number of desperate people are risking their lives to reach Europe from Africa. In just four days from Friday to Monday

Italy says it has rescued more than 8,000 asylum seekers. And now the UN refugee agency says some 400 are missing after a boat capsized off the

Libyan coast on Monday.

Well, for many living in poverty and conflict across the region, it just -- it just seems that Europe is the land of opportunity. But despite

the dangers, the numbers of migrants attempting the trip to get there is on the rise. A new documentary "Days of Hope" takes a closer look at the

lives of some of those desperate to reach European shores.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

[11:40:37] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are going to die. I was not looking for Europe, I was looking for dry land.

ANDERSON: Days of Hope, a new documentary by filmmaker Ditte Haarlov Johnsen captures the personal stories of African migrants desperately

seeking a better life in Europe.;

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For me, (inaudible)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And if I couldn't have a good life, what is the essence of risking my life?

ANDERSON: In 2014, more than 3,000 people died trying to cross the Mediterranean. In a detention center in northern Italy, those that survive

the voyage realize that their journey has only just begun.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN IN LANGUAGE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And when it rains and they drive past you, they (inaudible) so hard, that you (inaudible).

UNIDENTIFEID MALE: (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

ANDERSON: Despite the harsh realities, Johnsen says most of the migrants believe they will be able to make a new life for them and their

families back home.

Haruna (ph) left Mali over two years ago to try and make it to Europe. Now stranded with other migrants in the coastal town of Nadibu (ph) in

Mauritanian, he's paid a high price for the chance of a brighter future.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When I left Mali, there was a girl pregnant with my child. I was in (inaudible) when I heard she'd gone into labor. The

little money I had was for my transport to Senegal. There wasn't enough for me to return and be by her side with this newborn baby. It's a great

sadness.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (inaudible) have never seen your child, (inaudible) you have heard about him. I saw my son born, I saw him grow

up. Took him to school and all that. So, if I leave, I have a courage -- strong (inaudible). To try to get somewhere with my life to be able to help

him.

UNIDENTIIFIED FEMALE: It's hard to understand that desperation if you haven't been there yourself. If you see your children going to go hungry

(inaudible).

ANDERSON: If they make it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING IN A FOERIGN LANGUAGE)

ANDERSON: For Haruna (ph) and thousands of others, the question remains is everything they hope to gain worth all that they left behind?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's easier to relate (inaudible) dreams, scars, all that when you realize that they're equal to us all.

So you can stop people from dreaming of a better life.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: Well, just a glimpse into the fear and risk some have to take in the hopes of a better future.

Italy continues to bear the brunt of the crisis. In the first three months of this year alone, the country had registered just over 10,000

migrants arriving on its shores. On top of that, some 2,000 were rescued at sea during the first week of April alone.

Well, let's bring in our next guest to put thing into perspective for us. Flavio Di Giacomo is the spokesperson for the International

Organization for Migration joining us from Rome via Skype tonight.

This is a human tragedy, sir. And behind it the inadequacies of a European system that has pooled the few resources it had been allocating to

rescuing these people. And behind these deadly trips, of course, traffickers benefiting to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars as

they send the very desperate off in boats that are rarely sea worthy.

But go they will. And at this time of the year, how many more will make the trip?

[11:35:39] FLAVIO DI GIACOMO, SPOKESPERSON, INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR MIGRATION: Well, actually it is April. we are experience the recent

arrival of 10,000 people this last month, 20,000 people so far since January 1.

This is more a less the same transit we had last year when at the end of April 26,000 migrants arrived in Italy by sea.

But the main difference compared to last year it is that last year the life saving operation was in place. This year it is not.

Indeed, the last year, (inaudible) we estimated that that of 96 people this year (inaudible) a couple of days ago, we estimated 900 victims, 10

times more.

ANDERSON: All right.

Let's take a look at the largest three nationalities seeking asylum in Italy by sea in 2014. These are your statistics. Surprisingly, the top

country wasn't in West Africa, it was Syria with more than 40,000 Syrians seeking asylum in 2014. That's followed by Migrants from Eritrea and from

Mali.

We oftentimes hear about those doing the trips from north and west Africa. Just how many more are you seeing from this region. And I'm here

in the Gulf, but from this region, which is roiling in crises, as it were?

DI GIACOMO: Yeah, actually there are many migrants arriving from both Syria and also Sub-Saharan Africa. In this moment, there are more Sub-

Saharan Africans maybe, and Eritreans and Somalis as well, than Syrians. But Syrians are always there.

For the moment Syrians are trying to come to Europe through Greece and through Libya, like last year. But there are many people coming also from

Mali, from Nigeria, from Gambia, from Ghana, from Senegal. And I repeat, now in these last few days we are registering an increase of arrivals of

Eritreans and Somalis.

The truth at the moment, the (inaudible) factor in this moment is the Libyan crisis. What has not been in Libya is the something very dramatic.

All the migrants we have been talking to they are telling us that the (inaudible) has become too unsafe for them. They are really afraid for

their lives. So, those who are there, they really do not have any other choice, but to take the boat to Europe, because they be beaten. They can

be killed. Without any specific reason on the streets. And unfortunately where they fall in the hands of these murderers and traffickers, there are

even victims of more abuses and violence.

We really think that in this moment there are several violations of human rights in Libya against migrants.

ANDERSON: I want to just concentrate on the Syrian numbers just for a moment, because Syrians are making this journey in their tens of thousands.

And perhaps this is a story that our viewers won't be as aware of as perhaps others.

The UN refugee agency estimates that more than 3.9 million people have fled the civil war in Syria and are now living in neighboring countries.

By contrast, UNHCR says just under a quarter of a million Syrians submitted asylum applications in Europe since the civil war began.

Now many of those arriving in Italy move on without being properly identified, as you are well aware, or documented. And the UN says that EU

countries need to change their policies to fit reality.

Vincent Churtatel (ph) of UNHCR Europe told The Guardian, and I quote, "when I see a Syrian arrive in Italy who has relatives in The

Netherlands who are not close enough to eligible for reunion under the family directive, for example, an 18 year old with a brother in The

Netherlands, the choice for policymakers is that he either moves illegally or legally. The person is going to move."

European countries are, quite frankly, turning a blind eye to all of this, aren't they.

We are seeing a rise in the sort of politics that means there's very, very little concern for immigrants, or migrants, those who are seeking

asylum. What needs to be done next?

DI GIANCOMO: Well, it is true. I agree with what has been said. I mean, all those people are fleeing from war, in the case of Syrians, but

there are also people fleeing from persecution or regimes. And they do not have any other choice, than taking the boat and risking their lives at sea.

So it's important to find a long-term solution to that, especially for those people who can be granted with -- entitled with some kind of

international protection in Europe, that this should be either way to open legal entry (inaudible) for those people, to improve resettlement problems,

in order to offer alternatives to risking their lives at sea, because partly all these (inaudible) it's something unfortunately (inaudible) money

to the network, to criminal organizations which are working both illegally and in other countries.

[11:50:37] ANDERSON: That clearly there ought to be solutions. But my point is this, there seems to be absolutely no momentum or motivation by

hard-up European countries at present to help. I mean, this is going to get worse, isn't it?

DI GIANCOMO: Yeah, it is true. It is true. And that's also has to be said that, yes, there are not enough has been done for the long-term

solution, because these are very intense geopolitical crises, but also for the short-term solution. I mean, the top priority still (inaudible). And

for the moment, Italy is carrying out about (inaudible). European Union started last October, November, they tried an operation which is not

enough. It was an important message of solidarity by EU members. But now it is clear that it's not sufficient. We -- in Italy -- Italian government

needs to be helped in order to carry out lifesaving operations by the other European member states, because this (inaudible) emergency.

Because it's not only a (inaudible) emergency, but it's an emergency for all of European Union.

So, if the things are going to continue in that way, it's important that the mechanism, similar to (inaudible) should be put in place and

should be carried out by all the European member states.

ANDERSON: Should. Will it be? We'll see. Thank you.

Live from Abu Dhabi this is Connect the World with me Becky Anderson - - yes. Thank you, sir.

Coming up, we're off to the races tonight. In tonight's Parting Shots, we'll give you a true taste of the United Arab Emirates with a look

inside this.

This is the race. Back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: Well, in tonight's Parting Shots, you may have heard popular camel racing is here in the Gulf, but have you ever spent a day at

the track? Well, if you haven't here's your chance to get a glimpse of this century's old tradition and why it has become a multimillion dollar

high tech industry.

CNN's Jon Jensen headed out to the El-Mahmoon (ph) track as it closes out what is the racing season here.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JON JENSEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: When it comes to survival in the harsh Arabian desert, slow and steady wins the race. But at this track, it's all

about speed.

This is traditional camel racing, one of the most popular sports here in the UAE. It's a multimillion dollar industry. Owners can spend a

fortune for the fastest breeds.

And races like this one on the outskirts of Dubai are highly competitive events.

[11:55:01] "Winning is a high accomplishment in our culture," says this camel owner. "It's a big honor and a joy for us."

Camel racing is a centuries old tradition in the Gulf, once the highlight at weddings. These days technology is changing the game,

especially when it comes to who sits in the driver's seat.

This is a modern-day camel jockey. It's a robot that weighs just over three kilograms or so. In the front here it's got a walkee-talkee so that

the owners can speak with their camel during the race. And if their camel falls behind, also remote controlled.

Robot jockeys were first put in the saddle about a decade ago. Before then, it was mostly children riding to keep weight a minimum.

Many risked injury and abuse, according to the United Nations children's agency. The UAE government banned the practice in 2005. Since

then, most Emirati racers have adapted to the high tech riders.

"Robot jockeys don't have full control over the camel," he says. "But the more money you spend on radio equipment makes it easier."

Of course, not all camels listen to machines. Some take their own course.

For those who do run, it takes around seven minutes to circle a 6 kilometer track. Spectators can follow all the action on TVs, owners

follow in their cars, cheering and honking until the finish line.

Winners can walk away with prizes worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. First place camels, though, get a much more fragrant gift: their

faces and necks coated with a thick mixture of saffron and water, whether they like it or not.

"Honor," says this man. "When people see the saffron, they'll recognize this camel as a winner."

And it lets his owner savor the sweet smell of victory for another few days.

Jon Jensen, CNN, Dubai.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: Well, I'm sure you've got to be on the races here. Share those. Facebook.com/CNNConnect, or you can tweet me as ever @BeckyCNN.

That's @BeckyCNN. We always want to hear from you so do get in touch.

All right, well that's it for this show. I'm Becky Anderson. That was Connect the World.

END