Return to Transcripts main page


American Citizens In Yemen Question Government's Inaction; European Foreign Ministers To Devise Immigration Mitigation Plan; Interview With Maltese Foreign Minister; The Yemen Transition Myth; India's Cotton Farmer Suicide Epidemic. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired April 20, 2015 - 11:00:00   ET


[11:00:09] BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: They left Africa dreaming of a better life in Europe and far too many arrived in Europe like this. Like

thousands before them, there are no numbers to come.

This hour, we examine how European leaders plan to tackle a crisis that gets more desperate by the day.

Also ahead.


MUNA MUNASER, U.S. CITIZEN: We ran out of money, we ran out of food, we ran out of shelter. We were just living there waiting for someone to come

and say, OK, where is the Americans. Let's pick them up.


ANDERSON: Pushed to their limits. And yet these are among the lucky ones. We'll take an exclusive ride with the U.S. citizens escaping Yemen and

investigate the fate of those left behind.

And a soggy start doesn't dampen spirits in Boston as the city's famous marathon gets underway.

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

ANDERSON: A very good evening from here. It is just after 7:00. And as this program goes to air, right now it's a safe bet there are literally

hundreds of migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean in boats you would not step foot on.

And this is despite what could be the deadliest migrant disaster ever. At least 24 bodies have been recovered from an overcrowded boat that sank off

Libya over the weekend.

Rescuers have found only a few dozen survivors. One of them says 950 people were on board. Well, also today, dramatic rescue operations off the

coast of Greece where a ship packed with migrants ran aground. Reports like these turning the Mediterranean into a graveyard for thousands of

people seeking a better life in Europe.

And just in the last few hours, distress signals went out from several other boats in the Mediterranean. Karl Penhaul following all of these

developments from Catania on the eastern coast of Sicily for you.


KARL PENHAUL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPNDENT: Becky, you really get the sense that this migrant crisis is escalating by the moment. In the space

of just a few hours on Monday, we had fresh reports from the Greek navy that a migrant vessel that sunk off the coast of the Greek island of

Rhodes. 83 migrants were reportedly on board there. Three at least have been confirmed dead and the hunt for survivors goes on.

Then a short while later, the International Office for Migration reported that it had received distress calls from at least three migrant vessels off

the coast of Libya. One of those vessels reportedly carrying up to 300 migrants. The Italian navy is en route to their location to see if it can

pluck people off those ships and bring them to safety.

Now, of course, all this goes on against the backdrop of that massive shipwreck late Saturday into the early hours of Sunday. In the next few

hours, we're expecting 27 survivors from that incident to arrive here in the port city of Catania in Sicily. Those survivors will receive medical

aid and also psychological help before getting debriefed by the Italian authorities.

There is still not a great deal of clarity and exactly what happened in that incident, in that shipwreck. Initial reports from one survivor told

the Italian coastguard it was a multi-level vessel with 700 passengers on board, but last night another survivor told the Italian navy that there

were more than 900 migrants on board that vessel, which he described as a fishing vessel.

But, so survivors arrive here in Catania, we're expecting to get more detail, more clarity about that situation. The Italian premier has also

said that he wants to try and find the shipwreck and see if any of the dead were trapped in the hull and are now at the bottom of the ocean -- Becky.


ANDERSON: Karl Penhaul reporting for you.

And I'm going to get you a lot more on what is our top story this hour, including an inside looks at talks on the crisis by European Union foreign


We're going to speak live with Malta's foreign minister in Luxembourg.

And we are also following other stories of migrant struggles today. We'll see why many civilians trying to escape violence in Somalia have simply

nowhere to go.

To conflict in Yemen now where three weeks into a Saudi-led bombing campaign there is no let-up. Rebel-controlled health ministry says 30

civilians died in airstrikes in the capital Sanaa on Monday, and hundreds were injured.

Now this huge explosion in the city was the result of an airstrike on a weapons depot. And despite the enormous blast, which shattered windows and

knocked down houses, Houthi officials tell CNN that the arms were not affected.

Saudi Arabia says the rebels are being weakened by these daily air raids. But on Sunday, the rebel leader denied this, saying neither he nor his

fighters would ever surrender.

700 people are reported to have died so far in the fighting. Those latest figures from the World Health Organization. Difficult to actually

corroborate those. CNN's Nima Elbagir saw, though, for herself the suffering of the population when she gained exclusive access to the Yemeni

city of Aden.

She joins me now from Djibouti, the African country that many Yemenis have fled to -- Nima.

[11:05:46] NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And it is, of course, not just Yemenis at the beginning of this offensive Saudi Arabia

opened up a window to allow foreign countries to evacuate their nationals - - India, Russia, China, many countries took advantage of this offer, but not the United States who said it was simply too unsafe to come in and get

American citizens.

Well, we came out -- came back from Aden to Djibouti with 15 U.S. citizens who told us they feel abandoned by their country. Take a look at this,



ELBAGIR: On our way out of Aden, Yemen's second largest city is too dangerous to overnight in. On the journey in, we've been warned we must

leave before dark.

We weren't the only ones trying to get out.

For these people desperate to leave this besieged city, our ship was an unexpected lifeline. Too scared to sleep at home, many of them were living

on the streets outside the port.

MUNA MUNASER, U.S. CITIZEN: It was just bombs all the time, gunshots, people are running down the streets.

ELBAGIR: Mona Monasad (ph) is from Buffalo in upstate New York. She was visiting her sick father when the war erupted around her.

MUNASER: I called the Riyadh embassy. I asked them to help us, that there was about 75 families that were waiting at Damina (ph). My family has been


ELBAGIR: At the port.

MUNASER: At the port.

My family has been living there for two weeks. We ran out money. We ran out of food. We ran out shelter. We were just sitting there waiting for

someone to come and say, OK, where's the Americans, let's pick them up.

ELBAGIR: But that didn't happen. And Muna and her family had to pay $3,000 to port officials just to be allowed to leave Aden. She gave them

everything she had.

MUNASER: And I want to ask my president Mr. Obama, how come we are a third class citizens. How come our country did not come and rescue us?

ELBAGIR: Muna says there are 75 more American families still stranded in Aden, uncertain whether they will make it out alive.

The U.S. government isn't evacuating its citizens at this time.

After a day-and-a-half at sea, we reach DJibouti port. For those on board, it's been a grueling journey, but finally they are safe.

For Muna and the other Americans, it's time to show their dark blue passports.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you get off this bus, you're going to look for us next to the American flag.

ELBAGIR: We've seen other governments go in and get their nationals, why has the U.S. not been able to do this?

CHRISTINA HIGGINS, DEPUTY CHIEF OF MISSION, U.S. EMB ASSY IN DJIBOUTI: As you see, it's a very difficult situation. You've just returned from Yemen.

It's very fluid. We have one of the branches of al Qaeda, that's especially active. There's the Houthis. Neither of these two groups

friendly to U.S. citizens.

We've had to weigh very, very carefully what is the safest way, the best way for us to help them.

For many U.S. citizens that's going to mean sheltering in place, for other U.S. citizens we are very actively working at getting information to them

on different avenues for travel out of Yemen. And then of course when they reach places like Djibouti, we're here right away at the port meeting them

when they get off the boat to provide immediate assistance, food, water, an help them get their papers processed to travel home.

ELBAGIR: For Muna and her daughters, at least the ordeal is now over. For those left behind, it's unclear when and if help will be on its way.


BECKY: So, Nima the U.S. official speaking to you in your report said that the U.S. will provide immediate assistance. But for those who have made it

to Djibouti, how is the country coping with the number of refugees it's accommodating? And what do happen to these U.S. citizens next?

ELBAGIR: Well, the U.S. citizens are the lucky ones, because as you saw there is consular assistance there on arrival. They are supported by the

U.S. consul. Once they get here, then they enter the support net of the U.S. embassy.

For the Yemenis and some of the other foreign nationals that we saw like -- with us was an Iraqi refugee, he really has fallen through the net here,

because he was a refugee even in Yemen. So it's a very difficult process to try and get him the support that he needs here.

The Djiboutian government is doing what it can, but it is a very small country. The economy is going to begin to buckle. They are for now to

their credit providing meals. They're working with the UN. But as those numbers continue to swell -- and the UN has said it's expecting perhaps 30,000 refugees to start coming out of Yemen when those

humanitarian corridors are properly established, which is yet they're not. It's going to be very difficult for Djibouti to cope with that. And they

are already seeking help, Becky.

[11:10:50] ANDERSON: Nima Elbagir in Djibouti for you this evening. Back from Aden.

Well, ISIS has released another disturbing video. This time it shows operatives of the terror group appearing to behead one group of prisoners

and shoot another. The victims, believed to be Ethiopian Christians in Libya.

Now CNN only shown these still images from the graphic video. Nic Robertson is following this story from London for you.

What do we know about the circumstances in which these two groups of Christians were attacked -- Nic?

ROBERTSON: Yeah, Becky, it really seems to be a sort of multi-layers propaganda effort by ISIS. They've gone to great lengths here to do

several things. One of them is to execute these two groups of Ethiopian Christians in entirely different places, but opposite ends of the country.

One groups is beheaded on the Mediterranean coast in the north of Libya, the other close to the southern borders. They're executed by being shot.

So ISIS there trying to create the impression that in Libya they're spread across the country. They're not. But that's the impression they're trying

to create.

Also, the other thing that they've done is this video has been -- this is a 29 minute video in total has been put together by Al Forcan (ph), which is

the sort of -- if you want to call it ISIS central, ISIS in Syria, ISIS in Iraq use this same -- this same propaganda group to put together their


So in a way here, it not just says that ISIS is expanding across Libya, but it's trying to say as well that its interconnected and well interconnected

throughout the Middle East, that's the other part of the message.

And the fundamental part of the message is if you're a Christian and ISIS is controlling the area you're in, you've got three options. One, convert

to Islam, two pay a non-Muslim tax and three a brutal execution, Becky.

ANDERSON: Nic Robertson on the story for you from London. Thank you, Nic.

Still to come this hour, Somalians whose lives had already been turned upside-down by conflict are once again facing uncertainty. Why many of

them are being told to find new homes.

And the conflict in Yemen creating a deepening Humanitarian crisis. What it means for the country and the region. That's next.


ANDERSON: Well, a large explosion rocked the Yemeni capital earlier today, a Saudi airstrike targeted a Houthi weapons depot shattering windows of

many of the houses nearby. The rebel controlled health ministry says 30 civilians were killed, hundreds they say were injured.

Well, meanwhile Iran says it has summoned the Saudi envoy to Tehran after a rocket hit meters away from the Iranian embassy in Sanaa. The airstrike

caused the window to shatter, but Iran says diplomatic staff were unharmed.

Well, the crisis in Yemen shows no signs of abating even after weeks of Saudi-led airstrikes. My next guest was in Yemen as recently as two weeks


Farea al-Muslimi is a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Middle East Center. He joins me now from Beirut.

And you were able to get out of Sanaa, many others who want to evacuate simply haven't been so lucky. What is the reality on the ground? And how

coordinated is the evacuation, if at all?

[08:15:54] FAREA AL-MUSLIMI, VISITING SCHOLAR, CARNEGIE MIDDLE EAST CENTER: Well, obviously Yemen right now is going through one of the most worst

humanitarian crises in the world, possibly. And this humanitarian crisis is actually in the capital. First, there is a huge fear over the strikes

that are not necessarily differentiating between civilians and non- civilians.

At the same time there's a huge problem with the aid, with the food. The fuel is almost -- does not exist in Yemen at the moment. There is a huge

unsafety all over the country. If you move to the south, that's even double problem there where you have both problems from the airstrikes, but

you also have a huge humanitarian situation on the ground by the Houthi militants who have been effectively running the war in the south that does

not necessarily differentiating between civilians and military strikes.

But the problem on the ground is worse than you can ever think or believe in. The garbage is all over the streets. Food, it actually exists, is

double the price, and so is everything else.

ANDERSON: Yeah. And we've had reporting just before you joined us from my colleague Nima Elbagir out of Aden and the situation there equally as

desperate it sounds.

We are hearing conflicting messages from both, or all sides as it were. On the one hand, we've got the Houthi leader in Yemen saying anyone who thinks

we will surrender is dreaming. On the other, thousands of Yemeni troops along Saudi Arabia's border now side with Hadi, we are told.

How would you characterize the situation? And who, if anybody, has the upper hand at this point?

AL-MUSLIMI: Obviously there is no one who has the upper hand in the strikes in this war, whether the Saudis or the Houthis, but you also have

to remember that the Houthis necessarily by the end of the day does not report to Yemenis, so they have less problems no matter how this goes bad

or have less caring of how this will end up.

Obviously, the situation in the country is literally the worst you can ever think of in matters of civilians are caught between airstrikes and between

troops on the ground and militias through the Houthis. The dynamics on the ground has less to do with who has the upper hand as much as it has to do

with there is has a huge problem that is literally if you're not killed by airstrikes or by militias. There's a high possibility you will die of


ANDERSON: Look, there's been lots of let's perhaps call it lip service paid to the potential for a political solution while clearly the military

one is that which we see on a day-to-day basis.

I want to read our viewers a short extract from an opinion piece written by the Iranian foreign minister in today's New York Times. He touches on a

number of things, not least of progress on the nuclear deal and the lifting of international sanctions, but he also discusses the need for better

relations among countries around the Gulf.

He writes, and I quote, "if one were to begin serious discussion of the calamities the region faces, Yemen would be a good place to start." He

says, "Iran has offered a reasonable and practical approach to address this painful and unnecessary crisis. Our plan calls for an immediate cease-

fire, humanitarian assistance and facilitation of intra-Yemeni dialogue, leading," he says, "to the formation of an inclusive, broad-based national

unity government."

What do you think such a government would look like? And could Iran ever realistically be a catalyst informing it?

AL-MUSLIMI: I mean, obviously that's easier said than actually done. But obviously there is less -- there will be less locally and regionally for

Iranian -- any Iranian initiated -- it seems for many reason, including the biggest one is that Iran is actually a side in this conflict. If it wants

for a peace to push forward, or for initiatives, it has to go through more neutral countries like Oman or more through international bodies like the

UN as long as they obviously change the way they have run the transition in Yemen the last four years, because let's be clear about this, what actually

has led Yemen into this catastrophic situation is the myth of the Yemen model that was necessarily presented by the west and by the United Nations.

Obviously, to achieve peace on the ground or for any political peace to exist it will have to have first an immediate cease-fire. And that

immediate cease-fire includes the airstrikes from Saudi. But before that, it also has to include an immediate cease-fire and concurring of the

Houthis to the south (inaudible), and obviously that's one step if Iran is serious about committing to peace in Yemen it can do is actually pressure

the Houthis to stop the invasion of the south as it is happening right now.

And obviously after that we speak. We have a huge -- even if we end of this -- you know, if we have a ceasefire, there is a critical issue in the

leadership of the country by President Hadi. And that obviously in the long-term needs to be addressed. But before that we need an urgent

humanitarian aid and the country is right now locked down and (inaudible). That needs to be stopped before we can possibly speak about any possible

peace, otherwise it will end up continuing the closest definition to what hell is, actually.

ANDERSON: Yeah. And I hear you. And you are just back. And clearly you have a very good take on what is going on in the ground and what might

happen next.

You were just alluding there to the Yemen transitional model that was being touted, for example, by President Obama just back in September of 2014 as a

success that could be used for other countries like Iraq, and has clearly blown apart by what is going on.

We had the former UN envoy to Yemen on the program just last week who said everything was looking like it was going to work until January or February

of this year when he said spoilers, those who have got involved as spoilers, he said, have created what is Yemen today.

I just want to put it to you that clearly it looks as if President Hadi has perhaps less support out of Riyadh than he has had of late. We're looking

at the potential for a new president of a new government, as it were, that being the former vice president and prime minister of the country. Can he

make things work in any political solution, a unity government going forward?

AL-MUSLIMI: At least he had a better shot than everyone else, at least also better than Hadi and better than all sides, but let's not forget that

actually what's happening in Yemen, even though if it just got the international attention and the international media attention, it has been

actually going through the last three or four years.

The Yemen model was working in D.C. and in New York and not necessarily on the ground in Yemen.

The way it was run, or the way and the concepts and the philosophy behind it, which is trading justice for security has actually not prevented Yemen

from civic war as much as it actually have delayed Yemen's civic wars. And in fact, it has created a new -- to a new routes for possible conflicts, as

we see right now in the country.

That, obviously, has to do with money reasons. One of them is that there was a rush and the time obsession by the UN and the internationals to move

things forward especially on a very unpopular agreements or a very unpopular divisions like the division of regions and the draft of the

constitution. The attempt to impose them just because they looked perfect in New York or in D.C. while are not actually making much sense on the

ground is what led in many ways to this catastrophic situation in Yemen.

There has been absolute gap over the last few years between what's being done in the capital and what's being looked as a successful model. And how

actually Yemen -- Yemen have been witnessing it.

Let's not forget that the humanitarian crisis also in the country have been going for years. For the last four years the UN only got 58 percent of the

humanitarian aid it needed for the response of emergency plan. That, by itself, tells you a lot about the international commitment to stability in

Yemen, which was very low. Contrarily, it was almost a makeup homework for the failure in Syria or in Libya, but it was not a serious commitment, it

was not addressing the roots that took Yemenis to the street in 2011.

Unless these things are thoughtfully and in the long-term answered and actually addressed, we will have another cease-fire, but definitely not

peace. And no matter how that looks perfect from the outside, it's not as much connected to Yemen.

It's -- there is huge economic issue has been developing for years, but it was not addressed. And it was not -- the world commitment to Yemen was

more of fear and phobia of al Qaeda more than actually addressing, or a policy that brings peace into Yemen.

The obsession with al Qaeda and the obsession of having a Yemen myth model was actually in high (inaudible) in addition to a poor leadership skill

what paved the road, if we may say, for the Houthis from Sadaa (ph) to Sanaa and even to Aden. The whole international political recognition of

the Houthis without conditioning them to leave weapons also have fueled this -- let's say a blood attempt. And this obviously in the long-term is

even at the moment is not being addressed well.

[11:25:47] ANDERSON: All right. And with that, we've got to leave it there, because I've got to take a very short break, but we do very much

appreciate your thoughts, your analysis out of Beirut this evening.

Your guest who is just recently back out of Sanaa. Thank you very much indeed for joining us.

Taking a very short break. Back after this.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's nicknamed the coat-hangar. Built of steel, this bridge has come to define Sydney's harbor.

PAUL KEATING, FORM, PRIME MINISTER: When it was built in the 1930s, it sort of came down on the harbor as a theatrical curtain, a pretty one, but

still a curtain, dividing the harbor into a harbor to the east, which is the main harbor, and to the west, which was the old industrial harbor.

UNIDNETIFIED MALE: Today, however, it's this industrial land behind the curtain that's taking center stage.

Barangaroo (ph) is the largest urban renewal project since the 2000 Olympics. Stretching 22 hectares, it will feature green, residential and

commercial spaces, changing Sydney's skyline forever.

CRAIG VAN DER LOON: This represents the opportunity for the state of New South Wales, give back to the people a part of Sydney, which has been

unable to be accessed by the public for over 100 years. This is a site of extraordinary historical significance.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was here where the aboriginal people of Australia lived long before European settlement. Ships and dock yards later lined

these shores until finally one large container wall consumed the entire headland.

Paul Keating, the former prime minister, made it his mission to return half this site to the public.

KEATING: Sydney is like a lot of cities. It fundamentally it has no guardian, but no one had an overarching vision of what we could do with it.

And you also had the needed the political authority to push that vision through. So, I encouraged the then government of New South Wales to edict

that when the big container warf was sold, or came to its economic use, at least 50 percent would be open space, 50 percent would be green, 50 percent

would go back to the public.

[11:30:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 10,000 blocks of sandstone have been extracted and carefully positioned to replicate the original (inaudible).

This will lay the foundation not only for new possibilities for the public, but also for the city's financial future.

HSBC, the bank, has already signed up to move in.

TONY CRIPPS, CEO, HSBC AUSTRALIA: This is really a commitment to Sydney maintaining its significance as part of that financial services

connectivity with Asia, and so HSBC wanted to be where the growth is.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And although construction will continue for many more years, Barangaroo (ph) will one day be the city's newest centerpiece.



ANDERSON: Welcome back. This is Connect the World with me Becky Anderson. The top stories for you this hour on CNN.

Rescuers are responding to new distress calls in the Mediterranean almost two days after a ship packed with migrants capsized hundreds of people were

in that boat, fewer than 50 have been found alive.

Elsewhere in the Mediterranean, at least three people, including a child, were killed when a migrant ship ran aground off the Greek Island of Rhodes.

57 people there were rescued. The search and rescue operation is ongoing.

ISIS has released a video appearing to show the killing of Ethiopian Christians in Libya. The video's narrator says two groups of prisoners

were killed in different parts of the country. One group of victims is shown being beheaded, the other shot execution style.

At least six people have been killed in a bomb attack on a United Nations van in northeastern Somalia. Four UNICEF staff members were among the

dead, more were wounded. Terror group al Shabaab has claimed responsibility.

Well, back to our top story this hour. We're just hearing that the European commission has come up with a 10 point plan for immediate action

on the migrant crisis. European foreign ministers talked about the issue today in Luxembourg. Despite a rising number of shipwrecks, more and more

migrants are boarding what are rickety boats risking their lives to escape what could be war, poverty or just other problems back home.

The UN human rights chief accuses Europe of, and I quote, turning its back on some of the world's most vulnerable people.

And the EU foreign affairs chief herself says Europe has run out of excuses to stem the tide.

For more now on Europe's response to the crisis we're joined by the Maltese foreign minister George Vella who is in Luxembourg.

What do you know about this 10-point plan? And are we looking at consensus from the EU foreign minister on how to tackle this crisis?

[11:35:16] GEORGE VELLA, MALTESE FOREIGN MINISTER: Yes. The 10-point plan was presented by Commissioner Avramopoulos this afternoon to the meeting of

foreign ministers and minister of the interior of the European Union.

And basically it is first plan how to actually (inaudible) the resources and the number of assets that have to be employed in the Mediterranean.

And also how one could capture and destroy the (inaudible) by the smugglers.

Besides that, there is also the suggestion that Europe (inaudible) will meet regularly to gather more information to see how they can get to the

smugglers and destroy their infrastructure and their ways and means of financing themselves. This is the thrust of the meeting. The idea that

the migration is the phenomena we cannot stop, but evidently the escalation in numbers is due to the organization, the aiding and the abetting of human

traffickers themselves.

So when we get to the traffickers we can possibly diminish and even bring down the numbers of people who are being crossing, but at the same time

avoiding people being literally pushed to their death at the bottom of the sea on rickety boats.

ANDERSON: Yeah, and you're right to point this out, because this is a mutli-million dollar business, viewers, there are murderers behind this who

are smugglers, who are effectively sending people at cost to their deaths and these pictures really just coming out of Rhodes today not the trip from

Libya, say, to Lampadusa, but this is Rhodes in Greece very much giving you a sense of exactly what is going on.

Now listen, some countries like Britain certainly back in October of last year, and that's only months ago now were arguing that search and rescue

operations for migrants only serve to encourage them.

Now the numbers do prove otherwise. Italy's Mare Nostrum program had a monthly budget of $10 million. It was disbanded, though, at the end of

last year, sir, wasn't it, replaced with the EU Triton program. Its budget less than a third of that.

So, what you appear to be suggesting today that there is agreement, at least in principle to what, up the efforts so far as search and rescue is

concerned? Because this new EU Triton project, its mission is border control. That effectively means sending people back, doesn't it? Not

searching and rescuing.

VELLA: No, no, no. Triton is different from Mare Nostrum. Mare Nostrum was actually scanning the whole of the sea and rescuing anybody. Triton is

a border operation, meaning that it doesn't go as far...

ANDERSON: Right. That's what I said, yeah.

VELLA: Mare Nostrum used to go.

But every day, rescue people -- there's no way of pushing them back or sending them back without taking them to European countries and giving them

all the chance to ask for asylum and go through the proper process. There's no pushing back in Triton, definitely not.

What we're saying is that these missions, Triton, (inaudible), Mare Nostrum, they are actually at the receiving end of the whole process. What

we are and what to discuss this morning, in (inaudible) is that we have to stem the flow from the Libyan side before they actually leave and

(inaudible) there was complete around the table agreement that this is being the amount and the numbers are being augmented by these people who

are making mountains of money from these poor people.

ANDERSON: All right. Quite frankly the message to date from Europe has been, it seems, that the way to manage this is to let migrants drown. You

certainly suggesting that EU foreign ministers are addressing this.

Look, the Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has been particularly vocal on the need to combat people, traffickers, and not allow migrants on the

boats in the first place.

I just want to play our viewers a clip in which he addresses this. That's right. Have a listen to this.


MATTEO RENZI, ITALIAN PRIME MINISTER (through translator): These sister and brothers of ours who die on the Mediterranean are not rescued just by

controlling the boats, they are saved by not letting them depart and not leaving them in the hands of the criminals that the human traffickers are.


ANDERSON: Mr. Renzi suggests that in order to stop the boats from leaving, the problem inside Libya needs to be tackled. But earlier today he said a

military intervention was off the table.

So, what is the alternative, sir?

VELLA: No, as I said, there could be ways and means of coming to a point where one could know much more about the pathways along which these human

traffickers work. And one could (inaudible) trying to destroy the boats of the (inaudible).

I mean, if they do (inaudible) the boats which they normally use in which they take back normally after -- when they find them in the Mediterranean

Sea, they wouldn't have craft on which to put people to then out to sea.

I'm only mentioning one small thing.

But this is just a small link in the whole chain. I mean, we're not talking about the countries of origin. We're not talking about the

trafficking of people across land borders before they come to Libya. And all these is to it after that.

I mean, what we're saying is that concentrating on what happened, on this really, realy big incident, which happened only two days ago, one realizes

that the amount and the large number of people being (inaudible) on boats, this is not something which is happening because these illegal migrants

want to do it, we know full well, and we have reported, they are being actually compelled to go on the boats at gunpoint.

So there is this organized crime behind all this, meaning that if that is a place attacked, there could be a reduction in numbers, there could be more

manageable flow, but not these large amounts that we're facing at the moment. And not the risks and the dangers to which they are made to expose


So, while there's no real immediate solution to the problem, at least one can start attack those points along the whole process, which are making the

situation must worse than it should be.

[11:41:48] ANDERSON: And you rightly point out that this is only part of a solution. And let's talk again about what else you believe might be added

to that solution, because clearly something needs to be done. This is a deadly, deadly story.

Sir, for the time being, thank you very much indeed for joining us. You can hear a lot more of what the Italian prime minister's views are on this

latest tragedy on our website. Head to to find out what Mr. Renzi thinks can be done to stop the wave of migrants heading across the

Mediterranean at huge personal risk.

You'll also find all the latest developments and analysis on this story. We will, of course, speak again to George Vella who was, as you've just

been hearing his voice, the Maltese foreign minister.

Live from Abu Dhabi, this is Connect the World with me Becky Anderson.

Coming up, the Boston marathon is back again two years after a deadly bombing. We're live from the city along the race route for you.

First up, though, a heartbreaking epidemic India. We look at the reasons why so many farmers see no way out of poverty and debt. Up next.


[11:45:03] ANDERSON: This is CNN and Connect the World with me Becky Anderson. Welcome back at 45 minutes past 7:00.

To some sobering figures from a country that is expected to be the fastest growing major economy next year.

More than half of India's population is involved in agricultural work in some form. But some cotton farmers are so mired in debt that they see no

way forward.

One region in particular is at the center of this suicide epidemic there. Some 500 farmers have killed themselves since January.

Mallika Kapur has this report.


MALLIKA KAPUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Baby Kenheya (ph) looks at pictures of his father and cries out for him.

"It hurts," she says. "These photos are all that's left," says his mother.

Her husband, a cotton farmer committed suicide in December.

He consumed poison, pesticides?

Her answer: "yes."

Why do you think he did that?

"he was so much in debt," she says. "He wasn't getting any money from cotton."

Eight years ago, her father-in-law, also a cotton farmer, took his own life too.

A record surplus of cotton in the global market means farmers are getting less money for their crop.

Murali Dhidicar, a cotton farmer, says, "I'm getting around $50 a quintal. A year ago, it was double that.

Dhidicar says over the last year the cost of everything else has gone up -- seeds, fertilizers, pesticides cost more -- so farmers, including himself,

have to keep taking loans. They are steeped in debt.

Iman Giderba (ph), India's cotton growing belt, where cotton cultivation is the only source of income for most farmers, and when that doesn't work out

the consequences are dire.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The farmers are killing themselves.

KAPUR: According to a farmer lobby group, one farmer kills himself every eight hours in this area.

Kishur Diwari (ph) says Narenda Modi has been speaking about India shining, but he isn't ready to see India dying.

Diwari (ph) says Prime Minister Modi broke an election promise of ensuring farmers a 50 percent profit over production costs.

Though the local state government compensates families of suicide victims with a relief package, this mother says it's not enough, and it'll barely

cover her medical costs.

And you are pregnant, eight months.

Once the baby is born, she says she'll look for work. She has debt to pay, two children to raise. It's not the future she imagined for her family.

She hoped it would have looked more like this.


ANDERSON: Well, let's break this down just a little further for you. Agriculture accounts for 18 percent of India's GDP. In 2013, nearly 12,000

farmers committed suicide, about 32 deaths per day. And more than a third of those suicides were committed by younger farmers under 44 years old.

The majority of people in India, 72 percent, live in rural areas, just over a quarter of the population live in Cities.

And as if life weren't hard enough for millions of India's famers and their families, there is another battle looming over the land that they work.

Let's bring in CNN's Mallika Kapur for more insight on this story. And we are talking land acquisition rules here. Explain what's going on?

KAPUR: That's right, this is a very, very sensitive issue in India these days and highly controversial as well.

Let's just rewind 24 hours and see what happened in New Delhi yesterday. We have thousands of farmers protesting in New Delhi. Farmers are angry and

what they want right now is for Prime Minister Narenda Modi to back off a little bit.

What he's trying to do is to make it easier to buy land for development.

Remember, we are almost up to one year since Modi got elected to power. And when he came he came on a pro-business platform and a pro-growth

platform. And he said is you elect me I'm going to boost growth.

One way to do that is to go ahead with projects, financial projects, infrastructure projects to build roads, to build power plants, to build

bridges, factories. How do you do that without land? You need land to do that. But under the current scenario it's very difficult to buy land,

especially in rural areas. You have to pay up to four times the market price for land. You have to get the consensus of 70 percent of the farmers

who live in that area. It's very complicated and very difficult.

So as a result of that, we've had hundreds of projects that have been approved in theory, but they haven't been able to go through. It's about

$400 billion worth of investments that are stalled at the moment, because it's difficult to buy land.

[11:55:13] ANDERSON: And Rahul Gandhi back on the scene. At this farmer's rally yesterday he disappeared from view. And there was some sort of

speculation and conjecture as to where he was and what was going on. Certainly it seems that as Modi's popularity, certainly amongst these

farmers, is somewhat less than it was this time last year, are we seeing a rally, as it were, for M.r Rahul Gandhi?

KAPUR: Well, before the rally, you know, there were two months of very intense speculation about just where he was. He did say he was going on

leave. He was taking a sabbatical. But that wasn't enough for India. And everybody was consumed with wanting to know where he was. It was a

nation's biggest secret.

ANDERSON: After a disaster in the election, of course.

KAPUR: Exactly, after a disastrous performance int he elections last year. and now he's back. He literally flew back last week and the first public

appearance was this rally yesterday.

So we are seeing an effort by the Congress Party to now make the farmer issue a rather large one, because Congress has always been more of a --

have taken more of a socialist stance, has been more pro-farmer. And you have Modi who has been pro-business.

And the congress is trying to gain some political momentum with this, particularly as we're coming up to the one year anniversary of Modi being

in power.

So it's coming down to a debate versus -- you know, development on one hand versus farmer's rights on the other.

ANDERSON: Fascinating. All right. Well, we'll stay with this story. We were there in India of course this time last year covering the historic

election. And we will stick with this story. As ever, Mallika, it's a pleasure having you here.

KAPUR: Good to be here.

ANDERSON: Thank you very much indeed.

Still ahead, Boston's iconic marathon is off to what is a triumphant start. We will take you there on CNN up next.


ANDERSON: Well, the U.S. city of Boston is once again proving it has what it takes to triumph over tragedy. Right now, runners racing to the finish

line in the second Boston marathon. Well, some of them jogging as it were. Since the deadly 2013 bombings.

Some 30,000 runners participating, some of them among those who were wounded in that attack.

Well, Alexandra Field is on the race route. She joins us now.

And I know the weather has been a bit inclement, but has it dampered any spirits in any way?

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Becky, I think everyone knows marathons are touch, so the weather certainly doesn't stand in the

way for these runners who have been training and preparing for so long for this moment.

You know, this is an emotion day in the city. So I think weather aside, people are pretty determined to be out here.

This is also a reflective day, but it is intended to be a celebration. It's a favorite day in the city, a time-honored tradition. A lot of people

feeling that they need to be out here to offer their support, to show their support. This is really that celebration of strength form those 30,000

runners who are participating today, including worldclass athletes who are making their way toward the finish line out here on Boylston Street right


But also for more than two dozens survivors of the bombings back in 2013, they are also a part of this race. and they are the crowd favorites here.

Of course they are the people who are being cheered the most loudly.

There are dense crossed near the finish line right now standing in the exact same spot where those attacks happened two days -- two years ago. It

is all very close to people's minds, very close to people's hearts. But there is certainly the determination to be out there .

All of this, Becky, happening against the backdrop of the fact that there is still the continued trial for the Boston Marathon bomber. It resumes

tomorrow. He has been convicted on all 30 countes that he is charged with, but the penalty phase begins on Tuesday. That's when jurors will determine

whether or not the Boston Bomber gets life in prison or if he is sentenced to death.

[11:55:34] ANDERSON: Yeah, and with this sentencing beginning tomorrow, what are the effects, do you think of two years ago very briefly?

FIELD: You know, I think that a lot of people who are out here today, especially the survivors who are participating, really want to focus on the

victory of today, the fact this race continues, that the crowds still come out to support people, that they have not been decided to stay home out of


But you also have survivors who are still keeping the spotlight on this trial by weighing in and sharing their thoughts on the penalty phase of it.

These were from a few survivors who have now come out publicly and said that they hoped to see a life sentence for Dzokhar Tsarnaev. They are

against the death penalty, they say because they believe it will bring with it years of appeals, which will force them to relive the most painful day

of their lives.

So when this guilty verdict came in, you had a number of survivors who said it brought them some relief. Now they are hoping that they'll get more

relief from the sentencing phase of this, Becky.

ANDERSON: Yeah. Alexandra thank you.

Well, have the people of Boston inspired you with their resilience. Do you fancy taking part next year? You can always talk to us, follow the stories

that the team here is also working on throughout the day and add your comments. That's at

That's You can always get in touch with me via Twitter. You know that. Just tweet me @BeckyCNN. That's @BeckyCNN.

And I am Becky Anderson. And that was Connect the world from the team here and those working with us around the world, we thank you for watching. CNN

continues. Don't go away.