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CONNECT THE WORLD
Palmyra Ruins In Danger From ISIS; Qatar Under Fire For Conditions On Construction Sites; Malaysia, Indonesia Promise To Take In Migrants; One Square Meter: Copenhagen's North Harbor. Aired 11:00a-12:00p ET
Aired May 21, 2015 - 11:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:00:14] FRED PLEITGEN, HOST: An ancient city caught in the middle of a very modern fight. As Syria's desert ruins fall to ISIS, we look at
the significance of the group's recent successes. We're live in Beirut and Baghdad for the latest on the ISIS advance in just a moment.
Also ahead, after weeks at sea, a nightmare trip is finally over. CNN learns that these hundreds of migrants on a drifting ghost ship have
finally made land. Details just ahead.
Plus, Qatar once again under fire for conditions on construction sites. We hear that progress has been made and why Amnesty says there is
still a lot more to do.
ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN London, this is Connect the World.
PLEITGEN: All right. I want to get straight to our top topic tonight, ISIS is tightening its grip on the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra
this hour. Activists say the militants are in complete control of both the archaeological site and the modern city beside it.
Fighters are reportedly going door to door hunting for regime soldiers. One resident tells CNN, quote, they are everywhere.
This video just in to CNN shows ISIS fighters seizing a gas field near Palmyra as they advanced on the area a few days ago. An activist group
says ISIS now controls half of Syria's territory including most of its oil fields.
Let's get right to CNN's own Nick Paton Walsh. He's in Beirut with the latest. And first of all, Nick, what are you hearing from Palmyra.
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: As you mentioned, the door-to-door surge for regime soldiers, well that will doubtless extend
in the days ahead to regime loyalists and perhaps to anyone they suspect of not being in full support of ISIS.
There are potentially brutal days ahead for those living in Palmyra. But I should point out, too, the resident we spoke to said that initially
ISIS had been kind, have been polite as they've been -- and that's common. We've in the past when they go into population centers they begin amicable
towards the population. It takes weeks, perhaps, for the more brutal rule, he conservatism they espouse to become part of their daily interaction with
But all eyes on the architect -- sorry, artifacts to the outskirts of the city. This dates back to the beginning of the previous millennia, the
First Century. Called Palmyra, becuase of the date palms that used to grow in the oasis there and still do.
Of course it was a key part for Roman empire trade, tinged with Persian architectural signs as well. Breathtaking to behold, frankly and
potentially now at risk from ISIS's sledgehammers if we remember the kind of year zero behavior they like to bring to places the rest of the world
consider to be treasures, Fred.
PLEITGEN: Nick, one of the things that's been happening in the past couple of months is there has appears to be a shift in momentum on the
battlefield in Syria. For awhile it looked as though the regime was really winning the day, but it's been on the back foot recently against rebels and
against ISIS as well.
Where is ISIS in the greater mix in Syria now?
WALSH: Well, ISIS have had a complex time in Syria. They'd lost Kobani. They are facing setbacks around Hasakah and the Kurdish held
areas. Still held Raqqa and Der ez-Zor, but they are being pushed back away from Aleppo as well.
Palmyra is the first time they've really focused their crosshairs on the regime, and particularly regime held population centers, a long held
belief about ISIS where they simply focus their fire on moderate rebels to take territory off them. They weren't interested in undercutting Damascus.
That may be changing. They may see the strategic significance of Palmyra when it comes to advancing toward Homs and Damascus, two other
regime strongholds as well. But quite away from the spotlight because of U.S. coalition efforts against ISIS, away from that spotlight has been a
quite different fight in the north of Syria where al Qaeda linked sometimes and also moderate rebels have joined together to form something called the
Army of Conquest. And they have been taking ground very fast indeed to the point where many in Damascus appear to be quite alarmed, frankly, at the
speed of change in the battlefield.
It's happening to the south of Damascus. It's happening to the north of Homs where you've been Fred. There's a lot of pressure pushing in both
directions and a lot of talk now about how Damascus are running out of firepower, replacements on the battlefield and perhaps the fall of Palmyra,
long telegraphed, may be a key sign that the regime is deeply struggling at this stage -- Fred.
PLEITGEN: Senior international correspondent Nick Paton Walsh there for us in Beirut and monitoring the situation. Thanks very much to you.
And ISIS does have a track record of destroying priceless cultural treasures and the world is now hoping Palmyra won't share that same fate.
We're joined now by Syria's antiquities chief, professor Maamoun Abdulkarim. He is live in Damascus.
First of all, sir, thank you very much for joining us. What is your reaction to what's happening in Palmyra.
[11:05:09] MAAMOUN ABDULKARIM, SYRIAN ANTIQUITIES CHIEF: Yeah, thank you very much for your contact. Our action is very -- we are very sad. We
are in disaster, because what we consider this battle as cultural battle for the (inaudible) for all the world, because you know how many Palmyra is
very important for in the mind of the Syrian people and also all the international community.
Now we are very afraid what happen in Palmyra. Palmyra now under control of ISIS. How they will do in this city if they consider the city
like the cities in the north of Iraq, it will be really the big disaster for the cultural (inaudible).
PLEITGEN: Sir, you have already undertaking great efforts to try and save some of the artifacts in Palmyra, but it's impossible to bring, for
instance, architecture, buildings to a safer location. What have you been able to save from Palmyra so far?
ABDULKARIM: Yeah. What we ask it in our appeal before (inaudible) we appeal to the international community to help us, because we can't protect
all the artifacts. We compare it hundreds, hundreds really important artifacts to safe places.
But now my problem now how we can protect all the temples, all the tombs, all the architecture in the Palmyra with this barbaric groups I am
sure now we are in the bad situation, because what you know in general ISIS attack the people in the first for the control, second it'll attack they
attack (inaudible) by destroying for the propaganda for the (inaudible) they will or with the mafia to sift the artifacts for the to sale in the
It is our disaster now. What I ask today on CNN another time that the international community how we can heal together, how you can preserve
Palmyra, to save Palmyra. If not it will be disaster for all generation, for all the humanity in the world.
PLEITGEN: Sir, and Palmyra is certainly not the only site that's under threat by ISIS. As you said, we've seen things in the past. And
there are other sites that have already been destroyed in Syria's civil war. In 2013, the minarets at Aleppo's 12th Century Great Ummayad Mosque
was destroyed in fighting between government forces and rebels severely damaged the rest of the structure. Air strikes and artillery fire damaged
a 12th Century crusader castle Krak de Chevaliers in 2013.
And I myself was in Homs and saw the destruction of the old city there including mosques in the old city as well as the old city Suk (ph). Sir,
there is so much cultural heritage in Syria. There is ancient Christian heritage, ancient Muslim heritage, ancient Roman heritage. How much of
that has already been destroyed and how much is threatened?
ABDULKARIM: We publish a map -- interact map on our website in director-general of antiquity. We have about 750 historical buildings and
sites. But clashes like Aleppo, like Homs, we have a lot of the site by illicit excavation. It is disaster like the value of the (inaudible) at
Appame (ph) in Hamaa (ph). We have a lot of the site in Daraa (ph). We have a lot of destruction by mafia group in cooperation with the group
armies in some areas.
The silk problem we have now, it's new since one year. It is with ISIS, destruction by from fundamentalism by ideological reason. It is one
of the most danger now we are -- we have now.
I seek the kind of the Palmyra it is different of all the kind of the Syria, because in Aleppo, perhaps, in the future we can with cooperation
with international community to have the restoration with a lot of the building like mostly Ummayat, et cetera. But how we can preserve, restore
the future some (inaudible) if they will explode all the buildings by explosion.
It's our disaster situation. I ask all Syrian people without any difference, I ask all the international community our battle today in
Palmyra, it is cultural battle. It is for all humanity how we can to stop the barbaric and (inaudible) groups do not destroy our cultural heritage
for (inaudible) and for fundamentalism reason.
[11:10:27] PLEITGEN: Maamoun Abdulkarim, the head of Syria's antiquities, thank you very much for joining the program and of course with
that very important appeal to the world. Thank you, sir.
And the presence of ISIS has one of the Middle East's most precious ancient sites is being felt in the entire region. An exclusive interview,
Jordan's King Abdullah gave CNN his reaction.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KING ABDULLAH, JORDAN: To me, it just makes no sense whatsoever how these people think. I think they have no concept of humanity, of religion,
of life and I think it's just a wakeup call for all of us what this threat is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PLEITGEN: And you can watch that full interview coming up on Quest Means Business. That starts at 9:00 p.m. in London, 11:00 in Amman,
Jordan. And of course only here on CNN.
Malaysia's prime minister has ordered the navy and coast guard to begin search and rescue missions for migrants stranded at sea. Protesters
in Malaysia's capital called for neighboring Myanmar to address the migrant crisis setting off from its shores. They demanded -- Myanmar better treat
its Rohingya population who had been fleeing the country in droves.
Hundreds of Rohingya migrants were seen desperate and starving, stranded off the coast of Thailand last week. We've now learned their
fate. And CNN's Saima Mohsin has more from Bangkok.
SAIMA MOHSIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: CNN can confirm that one of the boats that made it to Aceh Province Wednesday is the boat that
was seen at sea last week with men, women, children crammed on board this rickety boat crying, screaming, wailing for help hoping someone would
rescue them and give them a home.
Well, it did make it to land as Indonesia promised to provide them a home for at least a year until they can be resettled. Malaysia, too, of
course remember pitching in. And today, the navy and maritime agency sent out by the prime minister to search for these boats, not turn them away
anymore, but to bring them into land. And these are just the first 400 or so that have been saved. There is believed to be up to 7,000 still at sea
that need rescuing.
So, a long procedure to come.
And it seems that still there is some time yet until these two countries can get organized on how to deal with this influx. So far, the
first group have been housed in an old paper mill. The men are being kept in tents, the women in old office buildings along with their children. But
the conditions have been described to CNN as alarming. There are no toilets, no showers, no washing facilities. And so some of the men have
been seen going down to a nearby stream or river to wash themselves down.
There is still a lot to be done to take care of these people. And of course these countries agreeing to take them in, Thailand is coming under
severe criticism for only offering aid, no shelter.
But Thailand points out that it's the country of origin that really needs to address this. And that, of course, for the majority of these
people on board. Bangladeshi migrants, of course, but also Rohingya refugees fleeing persecution from Myanmar.
Myanmar, of course, simply doesn't recognize them as a community, doesn't give them citizenship, and to that end hasn't yet agreed to take
part in crucial talks set up for next week here in Bangkok.
Saima Mohsin, CNN, Bangkok, Thailand.
PLEITGEN: It's a dire situation that Saima described there. And what we're seeing off the waters off Southeast Asia in many ways mirrors the
crisis unfolding in the Mediterranean. CNN's chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour has been patrolling those waters with an
Italian navy vessel. She was there to witness the rescue of nearly 300 migrants. You see the first photo there on your screen and you can hear
why some of them were ready to risk it all just for a chance and a better life.
And tune in to a special edition of Amanpour live from the island of Lampedusa where many people who are rescued at sea are taken. And that's
on today starting at 7:00 p.m. here in London, 8:00 Central European Time, and of course only here on CNN.
And live from London, this is Connect the World. Coming up later, a failing grade: Amnesty slams Qatar for migrant worker conditions. We'll
have reaction from the Middle East and from FIFA.
But first thousands of people are fleeing the city of Ramadi. We're live in Baghdad for the latest on the crisis -- from the ISIS advance in
Iraq. And that's next.
[11:17:22] PLEITGEN: And you're watching CNN. This is Connect the World. I'm Fred Pleitgen sitting in for Becky Anderson today coming to you
from London. Welcome back to the show.
The U.S. military is reviewing what went wrong in Ramadi after the ISIS takeover of the key Iraqi city. Tens of thousands of civilians are
fleeing ISIS rule. And many heading east to Baghdad on foot. You can see the pictures here.
A senior U.S. State Department official calls the ISIS victory in Ramadi, quote, a very serious situation. Iraqi troops and Shia militias
are now massed around the city planning an offensive to retake it.
Of course we're covering all angles of the fight against ISIS in Iraq. Arwa Damon is in Baghdad with the latest developments on the ground. And
Athena Jones is in Washington for a look at U.S. strategy.
Arwa, we'll start with you first. What's the latest you're hearing from the front lines in Ramadi?
ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, earlier in the day we spoke to a senior Iraqi army officer located at the military
base in Habbaniyah. This is right between Ramadi and Fallujah both under ISIS control. He said that they were still waiting for more reinforcements
from the Iraqi government either in the -- in the form of Iraqi security forces themselves, but also these Iranian backed Shia paramilitary units
that have been proven to be quite effective albeit controversial. And also they're still waiting for the Iraqi government to make good on its pledge
to arm the Sunni tribes.
We then spoke to the deputy governor of Anbar Province who is located fairly close to the current front line that is just about a kilometer plus
to the east of Ramadi. He said that their current strategy in conjunction with the Iraqi government was to try to beef up their defenses around what
little territory the Iraqi government does hold, wait for those reinforcements and then try to form a cohesive plan to push forward.
He says that finally at this dire moment during the battle is the Iraqi government beginning to take the situation in Anbar seriously,
because they do realize that if the rest of Anbar falls, ISIS would pose a very serious threat to Baghdad.
You were talking earlier about what went wrong, Fred, well the Iraqis that were trying to hold out in Ramadi will tell you that both the Iraqi
government and the U.S.-led coalition failed them. As far back as November, they had been calling for reinforcements, they had been calling
for airstrikes. ISIS's attacks over the last few months went from being sporadic attempts with indirect fire to then more targeted attempts to
actually penetrate the city, and then on a fairly regular basis for weeks on end wave after wave of suicide bombings until the Iraqi unit inside
Ramadi was no longer able to hold their ground.
If they had tried to stand and continue fighting many of them will tell you it would have been absolutely (inaudible).
[11:20:15] PLEITGEN: Arwa Damon there in Baghdad. Thank you very much. And you'll continue to cover the situation with ISIS claiming
victory on two key fronts, the U.S. strategy against the terror group is facing mounting criticism.
For more, CNN's Athena Jones joins us from Washington. Athena, how is the debate shifting there in Washington?
ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Fred.
Well, there is, of course, a mounting criticism of the president's strategy, it's from a lot of the usual suspects, Republicans on Capitol
Hill, hawks in the senate like Senator John McCain, Lindsey Graham. And also of course Republicans on the campaign trail who are criticizing the
president's handling of Iraq, the troop draw down in Iraq saying that it created the conditions that allowed for ISIS's rise.
We heard particularly strong words on the Senate floor from Senator Lindsey Graham. Let's listen to his warning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: If you don't change your strategy regarding ISIL in Iraq and Syria, because it's one and the same,
then this country is very likely to get attacked in another 9/11 fashion.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JONES: So, very strong tough warning from Graham from the Senate floor yesterday. He's one of the folks that believe that the U.S. should
send in troops. He wants to see 10,000 U.S. troops on the ground to help the Iraqis fight off ISIS. He wants to see forward controllers. He wants
to see people who can help them target the ISIS fighters.
That, of course, is not going to happen. The White House has no plans to send in ground troops. They are going to stick to their current plan of
airstrikes when ISIS -- when targets can be picked out. They're also accelerating the training -- considering accelerating the training and
equipping of local tribes. They're supporting the Iraqi government's plan to call for more voluntary recruitment of troops and also the use of those
Shiite militias and Sunnis and arming them.
So, right now they say there is no formal strategy review. They believe that there were always going to be periods of setbacks and periods
of progress in this long fight. It was what national security adviser Susan Rice called a long slog to be back ISIS -- Fred.
PLEITGEN: Thank you very much Athena.
I want to go back to Arwa Damon who is still in Baghdad for us. And Arwa, one of the things that's been said ever since ISIS had that massive
takeover of Iraqi territory last year was that two things were key. One was reconciliation between the Sunni and the Shia, and the other one was
that the Iraqi security forces needed to get a lot better.
You have been covering the situation since then. Have they improved? Have they gotten better?
DAMON: Here's the problem with that, Fred, is those are two key points, yes, but those are also not two issues that are going to be tackled
quickly. They are both incredibly complicated.
When it comes to the need for the predominately Shia-led Iraqi government to reach out to the Sunni population, yes, this current
government does have a better image than its predecessor, than former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government, but they still have a lot of work to
do to convince the Sunni population to stand with them and to really join in in the fight against ISIS.
They need to continue to convince them that if they do once again -- because remember the Sunnis have done this before, if they do this once
again the Shia-led government is not going to reabandon them.
When it comes to the issue of retraining the Iraqi security forces and training them into an entity that can actually take on ISIS, that is also
something that is going to potentially take years, Fred.
PLEITGEN: Great information there from Arwa Damon in Baghdad. And Athena Jones in Washington, D.C. thank you both for being with us.
And live from London, this is Connect the World. Coming up, as ISIS captures ancient Roman ruins in Syria, you look at how cultural destruction
is funding the terror group. Get the details around five minute's time.
And our latest addition of One Square Meter takes us to a development project along the idyllic waters of Copenhagen's north harbor next.
[11:25:57] JOHN DEFTERIOS, EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: Copenhagen, Denmark, capital city on the water, packed with canals and Michelin starred
restaurants. It's little wonder that the city of 1.2 million people is experiencing a historic boom in population, largely prompted by rural Danes
migrating to the city.
This growth has brought with it an explosion in inner city building projects.
Among them is north harbor, one of the most ambitious urban developments taking place in northern Europe. And once the entire project
is completed, these tentacles of land reaching into the sea will accommodate three square kilometers of homes, offices, shops and visiting
cruise ships just a stones throw from inner city Copenhagen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The industrial areas, especially here in the harbor areas, the prime location they are going away now. They had been
demolished. And instead you see a revival actually in residential construction.
DEFTERIOS: North harbor will house about 40,000 new residents, of which the first will be settled in by May 2015. The area currently lists
an average square meter price of $5,500, $500 above Copenhagen's average per square meter. And there are concerns that the area could become
exclusive to the wealthy, because of the cost.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is much higher than Copenhagen, in a part of Copenhagen we see average price about 35,000 krone, but I will say
everything about 25,000 that would be considered expensive in Denmark.
Here we really have prime location.
DEFTERIOS: For now that doesn't seem to deter buyers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's developing much faster than we expected a couple of years ago. And we sold all of the housing possibilities in this
part of the harbor and are planning the next phase of the project.
The special thing with this project is that it's an extension of the old city. This was fenced off the free port area from more than 100 years.
DEFTERIOS: Much of the lure reflected is attributed to this. With clean water surrounding and canals winding their way through the district,
it has been noted by some as a sustainable and modern Venice of the north.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have a dream of getting my own little kayak and being able to sail around out here in the harbor and being able to look out
at this in the morning. It's going to be just amazing.
DEFTERIOS: Amazing as it is, developers say it will be another 30 to 40 years until the entire project is complete.
John Defterios, CNN.
[11:31:12] PLEITGEN: This is Connect the World. And these are your top stories this hour. ISIS appears to be in complete control of the
ancient city of Palmyra in Syria, that's according to a local resident and an activist group, which has made the stunning claim that ISIS now controls
half of Syria's territory including most of the country's oil fields.
And ISIS gains in Syria and of Iraq have U.S. Republicans ramping up criticism of President Barack Obama's strategy against the militants. The
U.S. airstrikes have done little to stop ISIS, they say. And President Obama will meet with his cabinet in the coming hours to discuss the matter.
Malaysia's prime minister has ordered his country's navy to begin search and rescue missions for migrants stranded at sea, it comes after a
meeting between officials from his country, Thailand and Indonesia looking at how to deal with thousands of migrants stuck floating on so-called ghost
All right, returning now to our top story, and ISIS has taken Palmyra aside from their historical importance, antiquities such as those in
Palmyra can fetch top dollar on the black market.
For more on this, I'm joined now by Tadhg Enright. And what exactly is it with these archaeological treasures. How do they fit into ISIS's
TADHG ENRIGHT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they make up a part of ISIS's revenue stream. I think it's an ad hoc part, it's not as constant a
revenue stream as they'll be earning from their oil fields and from good old fashioned extortion. And ISIS's new strategy of actually connecting
taxes from people in the areas under their control.
But it is a lucrative revenue stream. It's not every day they'll strike a treasure trove like it appears they've done in Palmyra. But some
estimates suggest that for the most valuable items they can fetch up to $1 million on the black market.
PLEITGEN: Who would buy something like that? Are these legit buyers? Are these shady? Who buys this stuff?
ENRIGHT: Well, they clearly are shady buyers. I mean, unfortunately there are people who will trade in these kind of treasures and will seek
out these treasures.
We understand -- they're shipped out to neighboring Turkey and Lebanon where dealers then can use Skype, use other means of simply taking
photographs of these (inaudible) to sell them on to the wider black market in these kind of antiquities in Europe and in the Gulf where they do appear
in a network of secret museums that sadly do exist.
PLEITGEN: Tadhg Enright, we see a serious social fabric being destroyed and its history clearly as well. Thank you very much for joining
A new report from Amnesty International says Qatar is not following through on promises it's made on migrant worker protections. The group
says Qatar has made little or no progress in nine areas they identified for improvements last year. Among them, workers' salaries and what Amnesty
describes as harsh and dangerous working conditions. Qatar has seen a construction boom in the runup to the 2020 football World Cup. And of
course an influx in workers to handle it.
Amnesty says more than 1.5 million of them are at risk of abuse.
The Amnesty report says close to 450 migrant workers from India and Nepal died in Qatar last year, many gave up everything for their jobs. As
Sumnima Udas reports, their loss is devastating in more ways than one.
SUMNIMA UDAS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Once a symbol of hope and opportunity for so many Nepalese, now a harbinger of tragedy. Every
day, an average of three to four coffins arrive from the Middle East; every other day a coffin from Qatar, burying the bodies of Nepali migrant
When 38-year-old Kishin Dali's (ph) body arrived in his village in southern Nepal, unbearable pain. The wailing went on for hours.
Kishin (ph) was the only breadwinner for his family of 10, his father tells us. Desperation forced him to sell his only piece of land and travel
to Qatar eight months ago. He was still in debt. An all too common story in Nepal, one of the world's most impoverished countries, with some 1,500
Nepalese leave every day in search of work.
The one thing that really stands out is just how few young men are in this village. The majority who are of working age have gone to places like
Qatar and the rest of the Middle East, leaving only the women, the elderly and the children behind.
Human labor is Nepal's biggest export. The money they send back to their families accounts for some 25 percent of the country's GDP.
The majority are illiterate and unskilled, unaware of their rights, easy targets for exploitation.
"Of course it feels like prison. Nobody likes it. But we have no choice," Kishin's (ph) younger brother Bishun says.
Bishun, too, work in Qatar. He's helped build some of the 2022 World Cup infrastructure.
So he's just showing me the clothes his brother used to wear while he was working as a construction working in Qatar.
How Kishin (ph) died is still a mystery. Official data shows half of those who come back in the bulk died of heart attacks, the rest from
workplace accidents and suicide.
Nepali authorities say 10 percent of the laborers who work in Qatar are exploited, oftentimes by middlemen who themselves are Nepali. So,
Qatar is not solely to blame.
But the hosts of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, once considered the land of dreams by so many Nepalese, now dubbed the desert of death.
Sumnima Udas, CNN, Danucha (ph), Nepal.
[11:37:32] PLEITGEN: And we do have a response from Qatar as well. Qatar's ministry of labor and social affairs says it appreciates Amnesty's
report, but, quote, "we disagree with a number of its claims. Significant changes have been made over the last year to improve the rights and
conditions of expatriot workers," end quote.
And today's Amnesty report is also critical of football's governing body FIFA. It calls on Football authorities to pressure Qatar to do more.
I'm joined here in the studio by Mustafa Qadri. He's Amnesty International's Gulf migrant rights researcher.
Sir, first of all thank you for being with us today.
What's your main beef with FIFA?
MUSTAFA QADRI, AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL: Well, our greatest concern is that had FIFA put as much time and effort into this issue of migrant and
labor rights as it has with corruption and scheduling of the tournament we may have seen over the last 12 months more changes, more improvements than
The fact is there's a construction boom going on in Qatar, at the heart of that is the World Cup. FIFA is in an incredible position to
influence both publicly and privately Qatar. It needs to do much more than it has done so far.
PLEITGEN: I want to read you FIFA's response, because they've released a statement in response to your report as well. They say
Amnesty's report acknowledges that there has been some progress, and it also makes clear that much more still needs to be done. While there are
huge construction programs underway in Qatar that have no connection to the FIFA World Cup, it is clear that FIFA World Cup is serving as a catalyst
for significant change.
What do you say to that?
QADRI: Firstly, it's welcome to see the acknowledgment that much more is needed. But they unfortunately seem to be repeating this, you know,
line from the Qatar authorities. That much has changed. And that's the point in our briefing. In fact, you know, not enough has changed.
We actually acknowledge that some things have changed. And what's really curious in the ministry of labor statement you mentioned before the
things that they talk about are things we actually talk about in our briefing. That when you have over 1.5 million workers expected to expand
to 2.5 million in the next few years, we're talking about tens if not hundreds of thousands of workers facing abuse. This is clearly not a time
to be patting ourselves on the back.
There's a crisis here. Much more needs to be done.
PLEITGEN: Why do you think that things are changing so slowly? Because clearly Qatar has enough money to see all this through, clearly
they don't want the bad press. It is apathy in the administration? Is it a lack of interest? What -- why is this happening?
QADRI: I think that's really the key question. And as you say, you know, they're not facing financial problems like many states are. You
know, what our concern is that actually you know this may be a PR stunt. They actually do not have the political will to try to change things.
You know, it may also be an issue of not realizing the gravity of this problem, instead thinking that as long as they take journalists to see nice
accommodation, they do statements every few months saying they really care about it perhaps this storm will blow over.
What we actually I think lack is fully realizing the gravity of the situation.
So we can really speculate as to why they haven't acted, but we know for a fact that not enough has been done, thousands of workers are facing
abuse, and if they do not act urgently, then we will not be celebrating the World Cup in 2022, we'll be thinking about this being a World Cup built on
the back of migrant labor exploitation.
[08:40:52] PLEITGEN: Thank you very much Mustafa Qadri for joining us today.
QADRI: Thank you.
PLEITGEN: And finally the news out of Yemen has been dominated by conflict and political rivalries gone wrong, but for residents there, of
course, life must go on, even amid the war.
In tonight's Parting Shots, we hear about the struggles of ordinary people who are just tryingto get by. Take a listen.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My name is Urani Yani (ph) and I am a Yemeni photographer currently based in the U.S. Through my photography, I try to
showcase that Yemen is just like any other country, a country with people that are trying to live and survive.
The conflict in Yemen has extremely devastated this country. There are certain parts of Yemen, especially in the south of Yemen, that no
longer look the same.
I think with all this political chaos, it's important to know that Yemen is of course a country in the Middle East, over 50 percent of Yemenis
live under the poverty line. Many countries in the Middle East have closed their doors to Yemenis and as a result, people like my family are unable to
keep jumping from country to country.
It's extremely difficult for those who are outside of the country to watch Yemen almost deteriorate from afar.
This is especially true for people who have family that are struck inside the country.
If the world continues to turn a blind eye to the plight of Yemenis, then there will be no future for Yemen.
PLEITGEN: And of course we'd love you to let us know your thoughts on any of the stories we've been following today. You can comment on them
and watch our reports by going to our Facebook page, Facebook.com/CNNConnect. And get in touch and tweet me, you can tweet me
I am Fred Pleitgen, that was Connect the World. CNN Marketplace Middle East is next.