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Capsized Boat Captain, Crew Member Arrested; Ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy Receives 20 Year Sentence; New Light Shined On Why Boat Capsized in Mediterranean; Xenophobic Violence Continues in Johannesburg Suburb. Aired 11a-12p ET
Aired April 21, 2015 - 11:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:00:25] BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Masses of people on the move trying to escape war and poverty, eyes fixed on a life in Europe and elsewhere. From
the fringes of public consciousness, thousands of migrants are now at the heart of a debate: who is responsible for the fate and future of these
would-be refugees and what can be done?
Well, those are among the questions we'll be asking this hour as details of more migrant deaths emerge.
A political hot potato, a security threat, a multi-million dollar business, these are many of the threads to what is this global migration tale besides
the huge humanitarian impact it is having.
The UN says more than 50 million people are displaced across the globe. During this hour we'll bring you some of their stories.
Well, we start in Italy where captain of a ship that capsized in the Mediterranean on Saturday and a member of its crew have been arrested on
suspicion of manslaughter and aiding human trafficking. At least 800 people are thought to have been on board. Only 28 have so far made it to
And according to the International Organization for Migration, the numbers of fatalities in the Mediterranean so far this year is 30 times higher than
it was in the first four months of 2014.
Now the UN's refugee agency estimates that 1,176 people have died since January. By comparison, just under 40,000 have reached Europe alive.
Well, the arrests of the two crew members came after European ministers met to discuss ways to combat the crisis. Ben Wedeman has the very latest for
us from Catania in Sicily -- Ben.
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Becky.
Well, according to the prosecutor here in Catania, these two men that they've detained who were among the 28 survivors of this catastrophe, one
is a 27 year old Tunisian who they believe was the captain of the boat. The other is a 26 year old Syrian.
Now they have been charged shipwreck manslaughter, multiple manslaughter and abetting clandestine immigration.
Now in addition to that, the Italian authorities have been conducting a crackdown on human trafficking. They have arrested at least two dozen
people here in Sicily, in Rome and Milan as well, because it's not just a question of smuggling people from Libya to the Italian shores, once they
get here some of them have already paid these smugglers to get them out of Italy up into northern Europe where the job prospects are better.
Now, as far as the numbers coming in at the moment, so far we've heard from the Italian coastguard that as of around midday that had rescued 446 people
who were in distress at sea, among them 100 women, 50 children. That in addition to yesterday the coastguard picked up638 migrants in six separate
So it's almost an around the clock operation. And today, we had an opportunity to speak to two medics who were part of the rescue effort for
this ill-fated ship and the story they tell is really quite chilling. Let's listen to it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): WE got to the area without knowing exactly what we could expect. The sea was dark and cold. I didn't think
we would find someone still alive. My colleague and I got on dinghies to find survivors. What we saw is terrible to say. It was a carpet of bodies.
We switched off the engine of the dinghies and we heard some terrific screams.
The sea conditions didn't allow us to see. We lighted some areas of the sea with light spots. In the distance, we saw a man that was waving at us
asking for help. We got close to him and got him on board. He was really happy. We spoke with him in English. We told him we were Italian and that
we were there to save him. He told us we were his best friends.
Then we saw another man. We didn't know if he was dead or alive. He was staring at us from sea. His eyes wide open. He couldn't close his eyes.
He couldn't talk. He just grabbed our arms and we got him on board. He still didn't talk. And when we arrived on the Gregoretti (ph) he started
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[11:05:07] WEDEMAN: And this sort of story, this bone chilling story, is something you're hearing more and more often. These young men said that
they've been doing this work since the beginning of last year, and they've seen scenes like this all too often -- Becky.
ANDERSON: Ben Wedeman is reporting from Catania in Sicily for you today. And CNN has just gotten hold of video that shows you just how harrowing
these boat journeys can be. You're going to experience it from the perspective of two Syrian men who were trying to reach Italy.
Now these images coming to us from al-Aan TV, which obtained the footage exclusively and interviewed the men, it's not clear exactly when this video
But this is what migrants are willing to tolerate -- packed into the hold literally one on top of the other.
We're told that one man called Hosam (ph) left Egypt after paying $3,000 to board a small smuggling boat. He says he and 400 other refugees survived a
huge storm with the help of the Italian navy. He now lives in Germany.
Another man, Mohammed (ph), left Turkey for Italy after paying $6,000 to smugglers. The captain of his boat left them stranded in the middle of
nowhere. Mohammed (ph) used a satellite phone to call Italian authorities who rescued them.
More on this later in the show.
South Africa is deploying its army to volatile regions after a wave of attacks on immigrants there. Seven people have been killed in recent days
in mob violence targeting foreigners.
Local media alleged the attacks were triggered in part by comments from the Zulu king who reportedly said that foreigners were taking jobs from
South Africans. He says his words were taken out of context and he's now calling for foreigners to be protected.
Well, Diana Magnay joining me now from Johannesburg with the latest.
He may be calling for protection, but this may be too little, too late at this point -- Di.
DIANA MAGNAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think there's certainly a sense that he could have made his comments a lot earlier, and that might
have calmed things down.
But even though it might have been comments by the Zulu king that inflamed this latest round of xenophobia, there is no doubt that this simmers
beneath the surface, which is why every few months you have another bout of violence, you have foreign-owned shops being looted, and that this is a
consistent story in this country.
For now, KwaZulu Natal (ph) and Johannesburg, the two areas where there have been attacks are pretty calm. The police issued a statement saying
(inaudible) is calm and stable.
So this image -- the idea of mob violence is definitely quieted down for now. What there have been are isolated incidents last night to Zimbabweans
in the Alexandra Township who were shot at by people pretending to be police who then fled. The police say that they don't yet know a motive for
But the South African defense minister has said that she will deploy the military to assist the South African police to make sure that this
xenophobic violence stays under wraps. And she made that announcement in the Alexandra Township where one particularly ugly incident is recorded by
a photographer through his lens. Let's take a look.
DIANA MAGNAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The looting seems to have run its course. The Somali shopkeepers won't be coming back here any time
soon, not until they feel safe again.
In Alexandra township in the north of Johannesburg never feels safe. It's one of the most impoverished and crime ridden places in the country.
Effluent pours from the hostel, the home from home for thousands of rural Zulus who have come to Johannesburg to seek work. Garbage lines the
And it was in a pile of garbage early Saturday morning that Emmanuel Sitole (ph) from Mozambique fought for his life, attacked by a gang of four men
who beat him with a wrench as he begged for mercy, then stamped him repeatedly.
JAMES OATWAY, THE SUNDAY TIMES: Despite the intensity -- and the way they moved...
MAGNAY: James Otwe (ph), senior photographer for South Africa's Sunday Times had come to photograph the looting. He captured this instead.
OATWAY: They wanted one thing and that was to kill Emmanuel. They wanted his blood and nothing was going to stop them from doing that.
MAGNAY: After the men fled, Oatway brought Emmanuel to hospital, but it was too late to save him. His death the seventh in this latest round of
xenophobic violence against migrants.
All four suspects have now made their first court appearance at the Alexandra magistrate's court. And police say that they were able to make
the arrests so quickly through the help of the local community who they say are fed up with criminals living in their midst.
And this time around, the police in stark contrast to previous episodes of xenophobic violence, have been praised for their visible and proactive
policing in the townships. And certainly for now, the violence seems to have calmed down.
[11:10:07] XOLANI GWALA, 70Q RADIO: The Sunday Times was able to change completely the way we talk about these ongoings and awful attacks.
MAGNAY: Xolani Gwala hosts an afternoon talk show on popular callin station 702. Xenophobia, the talk of the nation.
GWALA: Among other things that we're considering severing ties with South Africa...
MANGAY: He says people call in to say how shocked they are, but that they'll also raise the issue of immigration, much of it illegal.
GWALA: I think what is happening here is what is happening all over the world. The issue of immigration is such a big issue, but I don't think
that anyone not here, not in the world is able to address it directly and sufficiently. It's leading to the (inaudible).
MAGNAY: The Zulu king, accused of stoking xenophobic fires by saying foreigners should go home, held a special meeting on Monday to clarify,
calling on his people to protect foreign nationals. But even there, crowds sung xenophobic songs.
Nationalists, sometimes tribal sentiment, muddied by extreme poverty and a tendency towards violence, a toxic mix in Africa's southern most nation.
MAGNAY: And Becky, those comments by Xolani Gwala, the radio show host are so telling as we see African migrants heading north for better economic
opportunities in Europe and coming to this tragic, awful end in the Mediterranean Sea. When they head south to South Africa in search of a
better life here, too, they are facing such problems -- Becky.
ANDERSON: Diana Magnay is in Johannesburg for you this evening.
And we're going to have a lot more on the issue of immigration and migration over the hour. Just ahead we're going to hear from a former
Italian foreign minister who found his own controversial solution five years ago.
Plus, we want to humanize what is going on between Sub-Saharan Africa and the waters of the Mediterranean. This is a people story. And I want to
get you a firsthand account from an Eritrean who made the journey. You'll find out why Somalians are trying to escape violence in their country and
are finding an increasingly unwelcome neighboring Kenya.
And we'll take a look inside the infamous Yarmouk camp in Syria when I speak with the head of the UN's agency for Palestinian refugees.
I just want to move on for a moment to what the Muslim Brotherhood calls a sad and terrible day in Egyptian history. A court in Cairo has sentenced
Egypt's first democratically elected president to 20 years in prison.
Mohamed Morsy and 14 other defendants stood in a cage during the verdict. They were convicted on charges linked to the killing of protesters in 2012.
Nor Morsy, you'll remember, was deposed by the military a year later. His attorney says he plans to appeal the conviction.
Well, even if they win that appeal, and that is a big if, Morsy's legal troubles are far from over. he's also standing trial in three other cases.
With more I'm joined now by Jon Jensen. Just take us through exactly what we saw and heard in the court today, Jon.
JON JENSEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all afterwards Muslim Brotherhood supporters of the former president called this a
travesty of justice. After the trial, Muslim Brotherhood statement coming forward and really decrying this 20 year sentence for the former president.
ANDERSON: Could be a death penalty.
JENSEN: Could have -- he was actually lucky in some ways. The defense team, though, expected a full acquittal. So they were quite surprised. We
spoke with them earlier on in the day, but if you look at how Egypt has arrested thousands of Muslim Brotherhood supporters over the past 18
months, let's say, and tried many of them, it should have really come as no surprise.
This is the latest in a series of very harsh sentences, that according to people in Egypt and outside in the past, let's say 18 months, there have
been a number of death sentences handed down to Muslim Brotherhood supporters. And as you mentioned, Morsy himself could face death penalty.
He's got three cases coming up in the weeks and months ahead, two of those are for espionage. That's a capital crime in Egypt. So he could very well
face a death penalty.
ANDERSON: Very good point, very good point.
How is this going down on the street?
JENSEN: Well, that's a good question. It doesn't seem like it's really resonating with the majority of people in Cairo, at least, the capital of
the Arab world's most populous nation.
Earlier on in the week, there were some violent protests, however, on the campus of Cairo University, a very large university as I mentioned, small
protest, dozens of students denouncing what they called the coup against their former president Mohamed Morsy.
And again it doesn't, it hasn't really resonated on the streets of Cairo yet. I think if you look at Egypt right now since the 2011 uprising
against the former President Hosni Mubarak there's been a lot of protest fatigue. I think Egyptians are getting sort of tired. I've spoken with a
bunch today, many of them didn't even know the trial of Morsy was happening.
So many are just looking forward to a return to normalcy, economic stability and put this chapter behind them.
[11:20:17] ANDERSON: Jon spent many days and weeks during 2011 down on Tahrir Square. And I spent a lot of time in Egypt. Jon, thank you for
that. Good comments from you tonight.
Still to come, U.S. warships are being deployed off Yemen to monitor Iran's activity in the waters. We're going to have the very details for you on
that in about 30 minutes from now.
We'll also speak to a former Italian minister who once did a deal with Libya aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from there to Italy. It
brought results, but it brought controversy as well. That coming up.
ANDERSON: All right, what a difference five years make. At the same time South Africa was hosting the FIFA World Cup and 33 Chilean miners were
rescued after a two month underground ordeal, these two men were celebrating a pact that would alter the plight of migrants heading from
Africa to Europe.
Moammar Gadhafi and Silvio Berlusconi had signed a 5 billion euro accord ostensibly offering compensation for Italy's colonization of Libya, but
also ensuring that Tripoli tackled the migrant problem before it left its shores.
Well, the deaths of more than 1,000 asylum seekers in the Mediterranean since January this year proves that a lot can happen in a half a decade,
doesn't it? Berlusconi is no longer prime minister of Italy, and more notably Gadhafi was toppled and killed after a NATO supported uprising in
What that intervention left behind was this, a country in chaos where militias battle to take advantage of a power vacuum and where extremism is
on the rise.
Here, in the absence of a functioning government, human trafficking has flourished.
The instability of the wider region is compounding the crisis, causing thousands to risk their lives in pursuit of a better life in Europe.
Well, Franco Franttini was Silvio Berlusconi's foreign minister at the time of this deal with Gadhafi. He believed that letting the Libyan president
contain the migration problem was the right course of action, despite the doubts of many European counterparts.
Well, three-and-a-half years after Gadhafi's death, the lack of strong Libyan leadership means that containment is problematic, if not absolutely
When I spoke with Platini a little earlier, and he described the problem as he sees it.
[11:20:00 FRANCO FRATTINI, FORMER ITALIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: The current instability in the Libya out of control of today the responsible. Because
we have militias. We have two different entities, one in Tripoli, one if Tobruk. There is DAESH controlling Derna. So the traffickers have been
increasing their business because of this.
ANDERSON: The response to the crisis when Gadhafi was in power was a deal with the Italians to return any intercepted votes to Libya. Do you think
that new EU policy is being formulated to return as it were to old practices? To all intent's and purposes this is vindication of Italy's
approach at the time.
FRATTINI: Well, it is quite difficult to return all those that I would say are illegal migrants, because many of them deserve to be recognized as
refugees -- those coming from Eritrea, those coming from Somalia just to name a few. It's impossible.
But, there is a new initiative that entered into force when I left European commission as commissioner, there is a new European directive that is
stating how and in which cases you can return legally illegal people to the origin countries. Not old, but only those that don't run the risk to be
tortured, for example, like in the case of Eritreans or Nigerians. In that case, Europe should welcome and host as refugees those people.
ANDERSON: Do you think that Italy has been unfairly left to cope alone in all of this ?
FRATTINI: Well, we have been left alone. This is absolutely clear. Just to compare, our national mission Mare Nostrum that we funded by three times
money that the Triton mission funded by Europe as a whole. That is simply unacceptable that a single state left alone. We are not the border
coastguard of Europe. We are a member that deserves to be helped and other member states have to share the same goal to have a common European
ANDERSON: It is to our shame that people are dying in the Mediterranean as they try and escape war, poverty and other problems in their countries.
Which European countries -- let's name and shame these countries -- which European countries are only exploring the option of sharing the burden?
FRATTINI: Well, I don't know because in public you see all the leaders are saying it's a shame, action like that and tragedy shouldn't be repeated.
And a longer, all are saying that in public. But when it comes to the table of European counsel on Thursday at that moment in two days we will
know who is to be shamed for that.
For the moment, I think Europe is to be shamed because of inaction so far and for having left Italy alone to face with Malta and with Greece that
situation which is a global issue, not a national or regional issue.
ANDERSON: The former Italian foreign minister speaking to me here a little earlier.
Well, you can find out a lot more about this story online. CNN.com is where you will find the current wave of migrants so far as a map is
Now the high numbers -- how high the numbers are, you can also find all the latest developments in the ongoing crisis and read expert analysis on the
problem and its potential solution.
Live from Abu Dhabi, you're watching Connect the World. I'm Becky Anderson.
Much more on the lives of refugees and other migrants coming up, including an appeal for access to a Palestinian camp under siege in Syria. We'll
speak with a top UN official.
[11:26:22] JOHN DEFTERIOS, EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: Taipei, Taiwan's tiny capital, is known for a few things -- Taipei 101, its cuisine, and recently
as the backdrop of the Hollywood film Lucy.
But now it's becoming known for something quite different.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I find Taiwan's housing crisis very unreasonable, because an average citizen's salary is just around
20,000 and housing prices are normally around tens of millions.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I am a lawyer and considered middle class, but I wouldn't even think about buying a house in Taipei or
even in New Taipei City.
DEFTERIOS: By one measure, the city now boasts the most unaffordable housing market in the world. According to the global property consultants
Johns, Lang, LaSalle (ph) average housing prices in Taipei in 2014 stood just before $6,000 per square meter. The average monthly income for the
same year in Taiwan hovered around just $1,500. In fact, wages have been stagnant for about a decade, one of the main reasons causing this yawning
TONY CHAO: If we paid the middle average having price in Taipei and a middle -- the average of household, per household income in Taipei, then
right now it's about 15 times.
But most of the countries like the States, like even Tokyo, the common ratio is below five.
DEFTERIOS: Compounding this is a boom in the luxury housing sector with prices per square meter tripling in the past decade. Condos are being
snapped up by people who have made their wealth outside of Taiwan and are looking for places to park their cash.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are attracted to Taiwan properties, because Taiwan is the only place in Chinese world compared to China, Singapore and Hong
Kong that offers perpetual land ownership.
DEFTERIOS: And they are lured by prices, too. The city center property belongs to the creme de la creme of Taipei's luxury sector measuring 600
square meters. Take a guess at how much this would be? $19 million.
And this entire five story luxury villa? $29 million.
A bargain compared to similarly lavish abodes in New York, London or Hong Kong, which often cross into $100 million. A recent thaw in relations
between China and Taiwan has also fueled expectations that the luxury housing sector will continue to grow.
UNIDENTIIFED MALE: We also foresee the relationship with China will grow positively, healthily. So I think you know in the long-term the real
estate price is still a very healthy.
DEFTERIOS: But one important question remains, will middle income families be able to afford housing any time soon?
John Defterios, CNN.
[08:31:36] ANDERSON: Welcome back. This is Connect the World with me, Becky Anderson. The top stories for you this hour. You're watching CNN.
The captain and one crew member from a migrant ship that sank off the coast of Libya have been arrested. Now these men are charged with reckless
shipwreck, multiple manslaughter and abetting clandestine immigration. The UNHCR says more than 800 people died when this ship capsized late on
Egypt's first democratically elected president has been sentenced to 20 years in prison. A court in Cairo convicted Mohamed Morsy on charges
related to killing of protesters in 2012. He was deposed by the military a year later. His attorney plans to appeal.
A car packed with explosives that rammed into a busy restaurant in Somalia's capital killing at least three people. Police say ten were
wounded. Reuters reporting that al Shabaab has claimed responsibility for the attack.
When it comes to what's driving millions of Africans to flee their homes, in many cases risking their lives, the answer in Somalia at least is pretty
clear. Violence, an overcrowded refugee camp is often seen as a better alternative than life back home.
Now, many in what is a very vulnerable population can once again be uprooted. CNN's Kush Bushar (ph) explains.
KUSH BUSHAR (ph), CNN CORRESPONDENT: Nearly no one left on this large camp in Mogadishu. Over 60 days, 21,000 displaced people forcibly removed by
state security in Somalia's capital, says a Human Rights Watch report.
The rights group says this is satellite imagery of the camp in February, and again in April of this year. Nearly all the homes and shelters
disappeared, gone. One resident describes her family's removal. There were three gunmen, one shook my hut, and I tried to stop him because my
baby was inside, she says. He slapped me, but I cried and shouted my daughter is inside. My daughter is inside.
CNN has reached out to the Somali government for a response to the claims and so far have not heard back.
And the already vulnerable were moved to areas they once fled because of ongoing attacks by terrorist group al Shabaab, the report says.
No place to go, rights groups say, in their own capital, and no place across the border.
The Kenyan government is considering closing the world's largest refugee camp for more than 300,000 Somali residents after a bloody attack by al
Shabaab in Garissa this month left more than 140 Christian university students dead.
"The way America changed after 9/11 is the way Kenya will change after Garissa," Kenya deputy president William Ruto said last week in a
The government gave the United Nations refugee agency three months to relocate refugees saying it must secure the country at whatever cost.
A resident of the camps tells CNN homes demolished, camps possibly shut down, and a vulnerable population continues to pay for the brutal acts of a
Kush Bushar (ph), CNN.
ANDERSON: Well, from the violence in Somalia to the ongoing tragedy in the Mediterranean. We've been bringing you stories this hour about people
forced to leave their home in the face of conflict and extreme hardship.
Now, I know it's depressing, but these stories of men, women and kids ofttimes do need to be told. I want to turn now to a refugee crisis just
kilometers from the heart of Damascus. Life was hard for Palestinians living in Yarmouk even before ISIS arrived, but this month militants laid
siege to the refugee camp triggering gun battles with a Palestinian faction.
The Syrian regime responded with bombing raids. And you can see the scale of the destruction. 18,000 people living amid this rubble desperate for
food and water.
Yarmouk has been caught up in Syria's civil war since 2012, but never on this level.
ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This was Yarmouk a year ago when aide agencies were finally able to break the Syrian regime's
stranglehold on the camp. Tens of thousands lined up for the rare access to aid.
Before ISIS arrived, hundreds had already died from lack of food and clean water. Now the UN describes Yarmouk in the starkest terms.
BAN KI-MOON, UN SECRETARY-GENERAL: In the horror that is Syria, the Yarmouk refugee camp is the deepest circle of hell.
ANDERSON: Palestinians say ISIS carried out atrocities in Yarmouk. One resident told CNN the militants, and I quote, slaughtered people in the
ISIS fighters reportedly pulled out last week, but it's unclear how many have stayed behind.
al Nusra Front, another militant group still has a presence there.
All told, an unimaginable situation for the Palestinian refugees trapped by the fighting.
Let me tell you, this is a generation of people -- the United Nations appealing for immediate access to the camp to reach those civilians in
We're joined now by the head of the UN relief and works agency Pierre Krahenbuhl. Who are you appealing to? And are you getting any access at
PIERRE KRAHENBUHL, UN RELIEF AND WORKS AGENCY: Well, I was last week in Damascus myself to make a series of proposals for expanding humanitarian
access. The good news has been that we have had, and our teams have had over the last seven days regular access to neighborhoods that are in the
immediate vicinity of Yarmouk where displaced people from Yarmouk have arrived in the thousands and we have been able not only to access them, but
to support them.
But of course our immediate worry and alarm remains related to the fate of those who remain inside Yarmouk. And as your document just presented,
these are people who have gone through a lot of suffering over the last couple of years. It has been the result of siege. It has been the result
of a presence of armed groups inside and the suffering that that generated. And you're dealing here with a community that is extremely weakened already
and now has to deal with this new tragedy, that is why we have called for immediate political action by the international community.
ANDERSON: Yeah. And we're talking about a camp here that's been established for a very long time.
I want to remind our viewers of what exactly we mean when we talk about Yarmouk. It was once home to the largest Palestinian refugee community in
Syria about 8 kilometers from Damascus City center. The camp roughly 2 square kilometers inside with four hospitals and a number of schools. And
some 160,000 refugees once lived there. I'm talking two decades now. About 18,000 remain. And the UN has been allowed little access to the camp
to distributed aid. And many refugees there die of malnutrition, many women die in child birth and disease is rampant.
There are so many people displaced, so much suffering in this conflict. Why has Yarmouk become such a focal point for observers and for fighters?
KRAHENBUHL: Well, I think first of all because it represents a tragedy on an epic scale within the wider Syrian disaster. And we know how much the
Syrian conflict has brought and generated and created a catastrophe in human terms for Syrians, of course, but here also for Palestine refugees.
And as you indicated, there were before the war 560,000 Palestinian refugees in several camps inside Syria. Historically, they were welcomed
in the country. And they were very also engaged in social economic activities, largely self-sufficient. They would only send their children
to Unra (ph) schools, because they were free and of good quality.
And so you have now a community that 95 percent fully dependent on emergency humanitarian aid provided by the agency I lead and other
agencies that are involved in supporting us.
So, it is clear that you are dealing here with people who have been extremely weakened. In my previous visit a month ago I saw women
collapsing, pregnant women collapsing in queues during distributions of assistance. One really has to take the measure of what this represents.
And the lack of prospects and hope for this community in the conflict in Syria.
And of course you know iconic pictures that were -- that came out a year ago of thousands of people coming out of the bombed homes and apartment
buildings for the distributions I think are on everybody's mind and remind us that at the end of the day conflicts are about human beings and teh
suffering inflicted on them.
[11:40:35] ANDERSON: You said at the beginning of this interview that you've been in Damascus trying to effect some sort of access to Yarmouk for
the UN. Who are you talking to, because at this point, it's Syrian military bombing what they believe -- or they will say they believe -- are
ISIS and al Nusra fighters who are, of course, are opponents to the al Assad regime.
Are you getting anywhere with Damascus at this point? Becuase nobody else is.
KRAHENBUHL: No. It's very clear that this is the practice.
When you have an armed conflict, and I've worked in armed conflicts for 25 years, you go and sit down with the key stakeholders, the actors. And of
course I sat down with the deputy foreign minister in Damascus and put to him a number of proposals and we reviewed those for continued access to
Yarmouk itself. It's very difficult right now because of the conflict dynamics, but we will continue to work on that, because we are not an
agency that gives up and certainly not an agency that abandons people in such difficult circumstances.
And also to request improved access to the areas in the neighborhoods that people have now fled to. This is something the government did agree to and
has been supportive of. And so we have had access. And this is something to note.
Of course, my experience also that this has to of course be expanded further and continued, which is something we will insist on, because you
know there is a link between this situation and your previous report on migration.
I have met many people who have now the only prospect is to get on the boats and cross the Mediterranean. And believe it or not, there are people
who have drowned in the Mediterranean who had survived the tragedy in Yarmouk. And this is almost beyond belief.
ANDERSON: I don't want to complicate your work, because I know it's incredibly difficult and delicate, but I find it -- and perhaps our viewers
will find it hard to believe when you say that you're getting -- you're getting help from the Syrian government here, because at the end of the day
the conflict is of the making of the Syrian government, you know. And if they wanted to help they'd stop. They'd stop what they were doing and they
would allow these people to live a decent life again.
So at the heart of the Syrian conflict is the Assad government. I'm slightly confused -- and perhaps our viewers will be as to just do you talk
to when you sort of pick up the phone to Damascus, as it were. I mean, how close are you to the Assad government when you are efforting access to such
desperate situation as this. And you say that you're getting the help that you need to a certain extent.
KRAHENBUHL: Well, you know, maybe it's -- the confusion just comes from the fact that the experience of working in armed conflict tells you that
the only way to reach people in armed conflicts is actually to talk to actors on the ground. There's no other way. There isn't space in it that
you create for yourself without engaging with stakeholders.
So, the relationship between the agency that I represent and the Syrian government goes back many decades, because it all starts with Palestine
refugees being forced from their original homes in the environment of Palestine and having to flee to Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and in other parts.
And so of course we have been present there. And as I said earlier, the presence of Palestine refugees was supported historically by the Syrian
government. And therefore we have a practice of engaging with this government. And of course there are time swhere we disagree and we raise
issues that create irritations. And if I bring something of a request for better protection of Palestinian refugees, we will have a discussion on
But I have no problem saying that if a discussion and dialogue we had with the government leads, as it has in the last week, to improved access that's
a factual observation.
If that were to change in coming days I would come back to you and tell you that I regret that it has changed. And I wouldn't have any problem in
saying that either.
But right now there has been progress on that. It is limited progress. It is not enough. But clearly we want to build on that.
ANDERSON: And with that we'll leave it there. Sir, we thank you very much indeed for talking to us tonight on what is an credibly important story and
very much informing the narrative of this hour on migration and immigration.
Thank you, sir.
Live from Abu Dhabi, this is Connect the World with me Becky Anderson. Coming up, I'm going to tell you one man's incredible story about crossing
the Mediterranean twice in search of a better life.
First up, though, the humanitarian crisis in Yemen continues to worsen by the day. Iran says it is unable to deliver aide to the war zone. We'll be
live in Tehran next to find out why.
[11:48:32] ANDERSON: Well, to remind you, you're watching CNN. This is Connect the World with me Becky Anderson. Welcome back.
Now, U.S. warships are being deployed to Yemen to monitor ships in the area traveling from Iran. Tehran is suspected of supporting Houthi rebels in
Yemen, as you will be well area. A U.S. official tells CNN the move is meant to reassure allies in the region.
Now the warships are joining other vessels prepared to intercept Iranian ships if they proceed into Yemeni territorial waters.
Iran insists its fleet is operating legally.
For more on the Iranian reaction, our Fred Pleitgen is in Tehran for you tonight.
What's the explanation from there about what these ships are up to?
FRED PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's very interesting, because I was actually able to speak to the head of Iran's
navy just two days ago when I met him at the armed forces day here in Tehran And he said that the ships that the Iranian out there have one
mission and that is to combat piracy in that area. They say a lot of them are in the Gulf of Aden, which is of course a very important shipping lane.
but also one that has seen piracy in the past and he said that these missions have been running for about six years and also denied that the
Iranians have any sort of intention of moving their ships into the territorial waters of Yemen.
Now he also said that the Iranians were not going to take any threats from the Americans or the Saudis. Let's listen in to what the admiral had to
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[11:50:03] REAR ADMIRAL HABIBOLLAH SAYYARI, IRANIAN NAVY (through translator): We don't let anyone give us warnings and threats, because we
are working to international law and regulations. And we work for the security of our country and other countries.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PLEITGEN: Now one of the things that the Iranians have also said is the one thing that they do want to do, they of course deny that they've been
sending weapons to the Houthi rebels, but they do say they want to send humanitarian aid, and Becky earlier today I was at a distribution center
where aid was being packed up and paletted to go to Yemen. They say that they were bringing it to a port here in Iran to then try and bring it to
Yemen, but they've also acknowledged that they haven't been able to get any aid to Yemen since the conflict started, so about a month ago. And
clearly with this shipment as well, it really is very much unclear if and when it will every reach its destination, Becky.
ANDERSON: Fred Pleitgen is in Tehran for you this evening.
We're in Abu Dhabi, this is Connect the World with me Becky Anderson.
Coming up, you're going to hear from a man who made the trip across the Mediterranean and now helps those who make what is that same journey. And
I'm not talking about a tourist journeyhere. That is coming up.
ANDERSON: Well, throughout the show we've brought you the plight of migrants all over the world. And in tonight's Parting Shots, we're going
to tell you about one man who has firsthand experience of what they are going through. Tareke Brihani made two dangerous journeys across the
Mediterranean setting out from Eritrea to Europe. And this is his story in his words.
TAREKE BRIHANE, REFUGEE: When I left my country I was underage like I was 16, 1 years old, still young. But the one that me really pushed me is my
I left my mom and I go to Khartoum is the capital of Sudan. When I got there, you just go to some bar, some cafe point. You ask -- say, I want to
go to Libya.
The children of three months, four months, women pregnant. We are 35 people on only one Landrover.
We start to go to the desert. We don't have any water. We have only water mixed by petroleum to drink it like this -- so you don't drink a lot. That
when I am in desert I always pray -- I say, OK, god, if you decide to let me die at least let me die on the sea, not on the desert. I don't want to
After that, we move to Benghazi. But in Libya we become like a product. Every trafficker sale us and if you are a woman, for you are (inaudilbe)
Until we reach Tripoli. I take the first boat. After 10 hours on the sea the boat was stopped, the motor doesn't work. So after three, four day the
coast guards of Malta come to us. We were happy becuase we see at least we got to Malta, but it's not like this, because the Malta take us and give
us to the Libyans and he push us back to Libya.
They take us to the prison in Tripoli, but Tripoli was full. They decide to take us to Misrata, we go to other prisons.
On the second time, we pay like $1,200 for one persons. Because of this, any space for them is money. the only that gives you energy that you
remember your family, you remember your mom. But after some hour, we met a big ship. We asked them to help us to call the coast guard to come and
rescue. He refused us. But the last we decided we must make accidents of this boat (ph) is the only way that at least some of us will be safe.
When we try after he say, OK, he stopped and he called the coast guard to come and save us and I entered to Italy.
When I reach Europe, I come to Italy, I suffered a lot because it's not easy. I try. I go to schools. I help refugee around the Sicily,
Lampadusa. Those people are tired, are tired of suffering, are tired to lose everything that have family, home, car, everything, everything. Where
is the quality between me and you? Why me I must suffer a lot, I must, the place I am born I must grow there, I must die there and you, you have all
the chose that any country you like to go, anyplace where you can go you are free?
ANDERSON: OK, that was Tereke's story in his own words.
And that's why it is so powerful rather than us telling the story, we leave it to somebody who has made that harrowing trip.
And he has started a petition on the change.org website calling for more search and rescue missions to stop these tragedies in the Mediterranean
from occurring to Europe's shame as the former Italian minister pointed out to us tonight.
This continues and it's awful. And it's been the cruelest year this year to date, says the UN.
And that petition that Tereke has started has over 140 signatures.
We've heard a lot of powerful stories, haven't we, this hour. And there are many more out there. Do tell us your thoughts, share your stories with
us. You can write to us on our Facebook page. That's Facebook.com/CNNconnect if you are a regular viewer you will also know you
can get in touch with me @BeckyCNN and the team at CNNconnect from us here it is a very good evening.