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Turkey's Foreign Minister Criticizes The Netherlands for Actions Taken Against Government Ministers; The Children Caught in Syria's Civil War; Scottish First Minister To Seek Parliamentary Permission for Independence Referendum. 11:00a-12:00p ET

Aired March 13, 2017 - 11:00   ET



[11:00:11] MEVLUT CAVUSOGLU, TURKISH FOREIGN MINISTER: There is a precious party in The Netherlands.


BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Tonight that is about as kind as Turkey's foreign minister got

as he told me what's next in his war of words with The Netherlands and how that will translate into action. That's next.



NICOLA STURGEON, SCOTTISH FIRST MINISTER: Section 30 order. The procedure that will enable the Scottish parliament to legislate for an independent



ANDERSON: It's not me, it's you: Scotland considers saying good-bye to Britain as Britain

gets ready to say good-bye to the European Union.

Plus, dazed, shocked and confused, countless kids have been caught in Syria's civil war. We speak to UNICEF later this hour.

It's 7:00 p.m. in Abu Dhabi. Hello and welcome to Connect the World. I'm Becky Anderson.

There's a lot going on at this point. And Europe is at the heart of nearly all of it, as well as that row with Turkey, The Netherlands has an

election right around the corner, so does France. Britain getting ready to start leaving the EU and now Scotland wants to try and leave Britain again.

We're going to get to all of that this hour starting right now for you: collision course. The Netherlands and Turkey going head-to-head in a

diplomatic war of words. Now, that has sparked angry protests out on the streets in both countries.

The Dutch consulate in Istanbul is closed and it's warning Dutch citizens to stay away from


Now, it kicked off when two Turkish ministers were barred from campaigning in The Netherlands. Dutch officials said they wouldn't have been able to

control the crowds at the rally. And since then, this dispute has not called off the rhetoric has been heated.

Here's President Erdogan.


RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, PRESIDENT OF TURKEY (through translator): I thought Nazism was over, but I was wrong. That is what I said. It looks as if

Nazism is still alive in the west.


ANDERSON: And after the foreign minister was barred from speaking in Rotterdam, he said

this at a rally in France.


CAVUSOGLU (through translator): In The Netherlands, the so-called capital of democracy, and I say this in quotation marks, because they are actually

the capital of fascism.


ANDERSON: The Dutch prime minister points out his country was bombed during the Second World War and called those comments totally unacceptable.

Well, just a short while ago, I spoke with Turkey's foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, and began by asking him about those comments.


CAVUSOGLU: There is a fascist party in The Netherlands, Wilders' party. And Wilders himself, he's a fascist. And that is no difference.

ANDERSON: But that is not the government, sir, is it? That is not the government, with respect, sir. Let me just stop you there for one moment.

That is not the government, this is a candidate in an upcoming election.

CAVUSOGLU: No, no, no it is the government. No, it is the government. No, no, no. Wait a minute, please. There is no difference between the

rhetoric and the policies of the current coalition government,which is a liberal social democrat government and the Wilders at this time in The

Netherlands. There is no difference.

And after the elections, it doesn't matter who wins, I think the supporters of Wilders will be anyway happy.

ANDERSON: Certainly, the statements of concern have been about the security for those meetings, that has been the reason for canceling those

events, certainly that has been the suggestion from local authorities.

CAVUSOGLU: Well, unfortunately, I have to use this language, but nonsense. And during the

previous meetings, there was no security concern, no problems so why this time? What is the - am I a terrorist? Are the Turks living in those

countries are terrorists or radicalized? I ask this question to many foreign ministers. Is there any one single Turkish-Turk radicalized? They

say no.

So what is this security problem then? They don't give me any detail, and I'm the foreign minister of Turkey. And of -- one of the European

countries. I am not a terrorist. So this is just excuse.

[11:05:07]ANDERSON: Minister, President Erdogan says the Dutch will, quote, pay the price. What does he mean by that? What is the price that

he threatens, sir?

CAVUSOGLU: Well, we are considering the necessary steps and action that we are going to take to reciprocate what they have done. Of course, we will

not violate the international rules, and the democratic standards as they did because we don't have a fascist government here in Turkey. We respect the international laws and the standards.

Therefor, of course, bilaterally, we will take some actions, and we are considering.

ANDERSON: I know that trade between your country and The Netherlands, about $6 billion I understand it, in 2015, and 1.2 million Dutch tourists

visited Turkey in 2015. If sanctions are the price, as you are pointing out, it's a high price for Turkey, too, correct?

CAVUSOGLU: As I made very clear from the beginning, first of all, we will not target the Dutch people. And we will not harm them, because it is not

-- it is not their mistake. And so -- and the Dutch people are friends of Turkey. And so many tourists are coming to Turkey, and we have been

friends for 400 years.

And we are celebrating the 400th anniversary of the diplomatic relations with this country. We celebrated 400 anniversary five years ago. So we

are not going to target the Dutch citizen.

ANDERSON: Very briefly, can we step back for a moment? You've been in Europe. This is referendum period. I just want our viewers to get a sense

of what's in that reform package if Turkish voters approve the bill, the governing structure in Turkey will change from a parliamentary system to a

presidential one.

The president will hold executive power and can be a member of a political party. Five out of the 13 Supreme Court members would be appointed by the

president. And he or she would have the authority - but he at this point - to publish decrees.

Minister, critics do say that the bill amounts to a power grab by President Erdogan. Is it?

CAVUSOGLU: This is also not true, unfortunately, Becky. This is a bloc campaign. According to the current constitution, the president has right

to appoint four of them to the high council. And according to the new package, the president has the authority or right to appoint only four of

them. There is no difference. And seven of them will be elected by the Turkish parliament.

Let me give you example from some very democratic European countries. In Sweden, for instance, all the members are nominated by the justice minister

and appointed by the king. All of them. And it is no difference in other countries.

For instance, in Spain, all of them are nominated by the parliament and appointed by the king. And in France, all of them are appointed by the

president and in some other European countries, it is not very different.

So in European countries, all of them are appointed by the king, nominated by justice minister. In Turkey, according to the current constitution and

according to again the new package, only 4 of them appointed by the president and it is a big problem. Again, double standard.


ANDERSON: Well, that was the Turkish foreign minister speaking to me just moments before we came on air. Let's get you reporting from both sides of

this rift between The Netherlands and Turkey now.

CNN's Atika Shubert is in the Dutch city of Rotterdam for us today, and our Jomana Karadsheh has her ear to the ground in Istanbul.

I want to get to you first, Atika. We are just two days away from what are Dutch elections. The far right politician Geert Wilders sent this message

out earlier demanding that his country kick the Turkish ambassador and all of his team out of The Netherlands.

You've just heard the Turkish foreign minister refusing to stand down from either his or

his president's comments about the Dutch government accusing them of being no different from

the anti-Islam populist Geert Wilders. Is it fair to say the somewhat fading Wilders campaign has been re-energized by all of his visibility in

all of this?

[11:10:04] ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORREPOSNDENT: I think it's hard to know. What we can say is that the polls still show that Wilders

and the incumbent prime minister, Mark Rutte, are still neck-in-neck in the polls. And it's clear that this incident with Turkey is not just a

diplomatic blowout, it has now become a political football that is playing straight into both of the candidates' campaigns.

Wilders has said time and again, you know, we spoke to him last weekend and he said even if we lose seats this election, we've already won because

people are already talking about the issues that matter: immigration, some communities here, Dutch identity.

On the other hand, the prime minister, Prime Minister Rutte, even though he's been talking much tougher, specifically on the Turkey issue, it's very

clear that he's making an appeal to sort of stop, as he sees it, the populist march across Europe.

Take a listen to what he's said at a press conference a short time ago, Becky.


MARK RUTTE, NETHERLANDS PRIME MINISTER: This is not the time, can I say, to be naive about the state of the world. This is a time to be realistic

and not to rely on the polls that tricked us before.

Remember the Brexit. We all thought that would never happen. Remember the U.S. elections. So let's not make that mistake again.

These elections are crucial. Let us stop the domino effect right he this week, this Wednesday.

the domino effect on the wrong sort of populism winning in this world.


SHUBERT: Now, there is some indication that Wilders may have slipped in the polls sightly after this diplomatic conflict with Turkey, and that

Prime Minister Rutte may have gained slightly. But there's really no way to know until election day. Either way, both are still very much neck and


ANDERSON: Before I move on to Turkey tonight, what is the feeling in Holland about what has been going on? It is an incredibly important time,

that being this upcoming election. And then there's been all of this going on vis-a-vis this spat with Turkey. How do the Dutch feel the government

has dealt with all of this?

SHUBERT: Well, I think Rutte has been very out front in talking tough, even in the press conference earlier today. He said, you know, he's trying

to deescalate, but it takes two to tango, and he will not buckle under these threats, as he described it, from Turkey. and you talk to people on

the street here, they're largely supportive of Rutte. They do want to see that

tougher line.

And keep in mind this is an election that has really been with a heightened sense of nationalism here. A lot of questions about what is Dutch

identity, what are Dutch - traditional Dutch values. And how to deal with what is apparently a this is an election that has really been with a

heightened sense of nationalism here. A lot of questions about what is Dutch

identity. What are traditional Dutch values and how to deal with what is apparently a rising backlash against

migration and also refugees and Muslim migrants in particular.

So this is why this incident with Turkey plays straight into the election.

ANDERSON: Fascinating. All right. Atika, thank you.

Jomana, to Istanbul and to you. Just - it's clear by speaking to the Turkish foreign minister in the past hour or so that Ankara isn't trying in

any way to take the steam out of this spat with The Netherlands. Following the same sort of bombastic rhetoric, if you will, in dealing with Germany

of late.

What's the reaction on the ground to all of this

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: well, Becky, as you know, Turkey is a divided country. It's a very polarized society, not

everyone agrees with President Erdogan, with the government's actions. But when it comes to

those events that unfolded over the weekend, there seems to be a certain level of consensus. Many people here who feel that the

actions of the Dutch government were disrespectful and an insult to Turkey.

Even the leader of the main opposition party coming out and saying today that they will back

the government in whatever actions they decide to take against The Netherlands. But they say they don't want the threat of actions, they want

to see actions.

As you know and you tried asking the foreign minister about this over the past couple of days, we've heard threats coming from so many different

Turkish officials, including the president, who vowed that, you know, The Netherlands will pay for this, but no one would say how that's going to


But in the last couple of hours we've also heard from Turkey's EU minister saying that maybe

that critical and controversial migrant agreement between the EU and Turkey should be reassessed, that maybe they should be reconsidering that. A

threat that really Europe cannot afford considering that this agreement aimed at stemming that flow, that mass influx of refugees and migrants into

Europe and Europe needs Turkey for that.

So we have to wait and see how much of this is posturing and tough talk and what Turkey is going to do next. It really seems that the ball is in

Turkey's court right now.

ANDRESON: Jomana is in Istanbul for you, Atika in The Netherlands. Interesting times. Thank you, guys.

This diplomatic feud goes far beyond the borders of Turkey and The Netherlands. Other European countries taking sides against Ankara as well

with one leader even calling for a ban on Turkish campaigning across the entire European Union.

We're going to take a look at the broad implications of this dispute with our international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson for you. That is not all

that's ahead this hour.

Also, as parliament in London debates triggering the Brexit process, a huge announcement from Scotland's first minister. Stay with us.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE; Freedom is remembering who we were before the world's told us who we should be.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Freedom, to me, is for every individual to have access to the basic necessities of human life, as well as for every

individual to be able to freely express themselves without any limitations.

UNIDENITIFIED FEMALE: Freedom to me is having my own thoughts and being able to express them.


ANDERSON: Well, we are just hours away now from the start of My Freedom Day. On Tuesday, CNN teaming up with youngsters around the world to lead a

day of action against modern day slavery. Driving it all, a simple question, what does freedom mean to you?

Well, we'll bring you a lot more on that here on Connect the World a little later in the show. For now, welcome back.

Just before the break, we were just talking about a lot that's going on in Europe right now. and guess what, there's more. first, to Britain, and a

dramatic day in the world of politics. There in London, lawmakers set to debate the triggering of Article 50, the landmark move or divorce, as it

were, that would officially kickstart the tricky Brexit negotiations.

But just before that, a bombshell from Scotland.


STURGEON: So, I can confirm today that next week, I will seek the authority of the Scottish parliament to agree with the UK government the

details of a section 30 order. The procedure that will enable the Scottish parliament to legislate for an independence referendum.


[11:20:05] ANDERSON: Well, two-and-a-half years ago, or two-and-a-half years after Scotland said no to independence, Nicola Sturgeon setting the

ball rolling for a second vote, what she says could happen in late 2018.

I want to get you to Phil Black. He's outside the houses of Parliment in London in what is a busy day. Before we talk about the significance of the

announcement by the Scottish First Minister, briefly is this a done deal at this point? Is there now going to be a

Scottish referendum in 2018?

PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Becky, technically, no, not yet. We're not quite that far, because it's not just up to Nicola Sturgeon

herself. First of all, she has to to get permission from the Scottish parliament where she rules in a minority government. And then, of course,

it has to be authorized by the British government, by Prime Minister Theresa May, and the

parliament behind me.

Now, in order to make that happen you have to convince the prime minister who really doesn't think this is a good idea, who described it as a

distraction, as divisive, as creating economic uncertainty at the worst possible time.

A short time ago, I spoke to Alex Salmond who is the former first minister of Scotland, the former leader of the Scottish National Party who last took

Scotland towards an independent referendum and asked him how he believes Nicola Sturgeon could persuade the prime minister to allow this

referendum to go ahead. This is what he said.


ALEX SALMOND, FRM. SCOTTISH FIRST MINISTER: Well, a bit like I persuaded David

Cameron some years back. That boat sailed. The idea nowadays Westminster, the imperial parliament here, even if they are planning the empire mark II

can say to other nations, you shall, you shall not have a referendum, a national self-determination or we'll do it only in the timescale that we

authorize. These days are over. These days are gone.


BLACK: So, the Scottish argument is that there is a electoral mandate for this. That Nicola Sturgeon's government was elected saying that it would,

or revisit, potentially, the independence issue. if Scotland was pulled out of the European Union against its will.

But the key issue here is also the timing of a referendum. Theresa May doesn't have to give

Nicola Sturgeon the timing that she wants. what she has said would be late next year, early next next year. Potentially, the prime minister could

make an argument that says wait until the Brexit negotiations are finished, wait until you're fully informed, then if you still want to give people a

real choice and have your referendum then.

All of this is still to be thrashed out, Becky.

ANDERSON: And Phil, how does the announcement by the Scottish First Minister today inform the wider Brexit story?

BLACK: It widens the scope of change that this country is likely to undergo over the coming two months enormously. It means that not only will

this country and this government be dealing with the complexities and the uncertainties of exiting the European Union, it is now very realistically

looking at the possibility of the United Kingdom itself breaking up.

Now, this isn't a total surprise. Everyone here knew that this was a possibility when the Brexit vote happened. But now Nicola Sturgeon has

signaled that she is prepared to really try and make this a reality.

And what it means is at the end of, say, the two-year Brexit procedure, we don't really know just what the United Kingdom itself will look like. We

don't know how the negotiations with Europe will proceed. We don't know what sort of deal will be done with them, if one

can be done at all. And now we don't know if Scotland will still be part of this country either.

So, so much uncertainty. And there is a worst-case scenario here that cannot be ignored, one that says in the event of a bad deal or no deal

being done with Europe and Scotland voting to go it alone, that the United Kingdom could be significantly diminished both ecnomically, politically in

an international sense, and indeed physically as well, Becky.

ANDERSON: Phil Black is outside the houses of parliament. It is -- well, it's a week, I

think that politicians will remember in the UK. A lot going on behind closed doors there as the UK gets set to likely trigger its divorce

proceedings with Europe this week.

All right, Phil, thank you for that.

We have got other stories on our radar today, too. South Korea looking ahead to snap elections to replace the ousted president there, Park Geun-

hye. She left the presidential residence on Sunday night after she was removed from office in a corruption scandal. Her replacement is set to be

chosen within 60 days.

Well, the Iraqi government has recaptured an oil-rich neighbor in western Mosul. Forces are just hundreds of meters away from a bridge that splits

Mosul's old city into two parts. It's near the site where ISIS leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi first declared his caliphate.

Well, as we were just discussing with Phil, Europe, as we know it, could been about to change in a really big way. And it's not only Britain, there

could be a major shake-up on the way in France as well. The far right presidential hopeful Marine Le Pen who praised Brexit is about to give us a sense of what France would look like if she wins its

top job. That includes making it more difficult for immigrants to live in France, something that plays right into her populist base.

Well, let's dig a little deeper into this. My colleague Melissa Bell is standing by for you. She joins us live, from CNN in Paris.

Melissa, we always knew Marine Le Pen would be tough on immigration. What new details, if any, are we expecting to learn today from her?

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This, as you suggest, Becky, is very much part of her political DNA. She is, after all, her father's daughter

andcontinues to represent a party, which has really toned down its anti- immigrant rhetoric, nuanced it, but for whom that rhetoric remains absolutely central.

So, we're going to learn a lot more about what she thinks on key questions like how she intends

to limit the numbers of immigrants coming into France every year. The changes she intends to make , for instance, to the right that the children

of immigrants born on French soil have to receive French citizenship. We're also going to be learning more about how she intends to strip duel

nationals of their duel nationality. One of her ideas is that French people who have duel

nationality with a citizenship that is outside the Eu should have to renounce that duel citizenship.

Would an exception be made, for instance, for Franco-Israelis? This is - these are some of the questions that people are going to be looking to her

to find out more about, but really the most interesting thing, Becky, about her speech today is not so much what she's going to say. We know what

she's all about. She makes no secret of it. It's how the French press, how this will be taken. How will it be received and the extent to which in

a sense what had an fairly inaudible political narrative has actually become quite central simply by dint of the woman's lead in the

polls. She's currently at the top of most of them, Becky, and this slightly -- very far from mainstream and on the fringe political narrative

has really become central.

There's all these questions of identity now looking to be key in this particular election as a result of Marine Le Pen's success in the polls so

far, Becky.

ANDERSON: Melissa, conservative candidate Francois Fillon is also presenting his vision for

France earlier today. Is there any appetite for him as president, especially after all this controversy that we've seen throughout this

campaigning, including what was this the investigation into possible criminal wrongdoing?

BELL: And that was just the start of it, Becky. I mean, there's been this sort of drip, drip of bad headlines for him, even since he sought to sort

of set aside the bad headlines that have been generated by that ongoing inquiry.

And he's likely to face charges later this week. And to whether or not his wife and two of his

children had been paid for parliamentary work they hadn't carried out. For instance, one French newspaper reported yesterday on allegations that he

had had his very expensive suits paid for him by a friend and then not declared them to the French National Assembly where of course any gift of

over 150 euros need to be declared.

There seems to be no end to the amount of controversy his candidacy is causing. But, yes, he's trying to speak above the din of that. Today, he

laid out his economic platform. For France, it is very much what he laid out in November. What was so interesting was the nuances, again. A

slightly more populist tone that he's taking simply because he knows he's got one woman to catch up with at the moment and that is Marine Le Pen.

ANDERSON: Fascinating. All right. That's the view out of Paris. We've been in Turkey. We've been in The Netherlands for you. We've been in

London and that's the view out of France.

The latest world news headlines are just ahead. Plus, much more on the growing feud between The Netherlands and Turkey. We're going to see how

other countries in Europe are joining the fray. That is just ahead. Do stay with us.



[10:32:57] ANDERSON: It appears the Turkey/Dutch row is just the flash point of a much larger issue in Europe. German, Denmark, and Switzerland

also taking sides against Ankara. Austria's chancellor is even called for EU-wide ban on Turkish campaigning. Turkey blames the backlash on

Islamophobia. All this comes as France and The Netherlands are set to hold elections where local identity and nationalism could play a key role.

Let's get some perspective for you know from CNN international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson who has been following the developments from London.

Before we move on, I just want to get -- we spoke to the Turkish foreign minister just an hour

or so ago. No standing down despite the fact that the EU has appealed to Turkey to take the steam out of this. He just accuses the Dutch and others

of getting in the way and saying that this is a fascist-like behavior, the president has accused the Dutch of Nazi remnant -- what do you make of all

of this? What's the wider picture here when you stand back?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, the position that Turkey seems to be taking at the moment, because on the Dutch side,

they do want to - and we heard from Rutte, the prime minister there, he does want to sort of tone this down and bring the rhetoric down and

deescalate the situation. On the Turkish side, that doesn't seem to be the direction they're heading in. They do feel this has been unjustified

action against them. And perhaps part of what we're seeing here on the European side undoubtedly there is growing concern that Turkey that

aspiresto be part of the European Union appears to be heading in an autocratic and less than democratic direction and that's personified, if

you will, by the president potentially in this referendum in April gaining many powers that used to sit with the parliament. And that's a concern.

On the other hand, you have Turkey that perhaps feels in a position here where it actually has, or should have in its eyes, a lot moire leverage

over what it wants to do in Europe because after all, what's fueling the populists and the nationalists across Europe and potentially could become

an existential threat for the European Union, the issue of immigration and terrorism. Turkey plays a key role in stemming both of them.

Turkey with the European Union agreeing to pay its 6 billion euros agreed to help stop the flow of refugees coming out of Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan,

getting into Europe, which was what exacerbated and fed into the populist nationalist narrative of Europe being flooded by refugees.

The other threat, of course, was within those refugees. There were members of ISIS. And, again, Turkey here plays a key role, its counterterrorism

forces working with Europeans to try to figure out who is ISIS, who isn't and stop ISIS operatives getting into Europe. So, in Turkey's eyes it

should have some leverage and say.

But for Europe, Turkey is playing this in a way that it often does, not doing it in a diplomatic way, acting as almost it's in a bazaar where

things are up for barter. And this is where we have a butting of the heads at the moment.

[10:36:26] ANDERSON: Well, a U.S. lawmaker under fire for his controversial endorsement of the anti-Islam Dutch politician Geert Wilders.

Now, Republican Steve King tweeted, and I quote, Wilders understands that culture and demographics are our destiny. We can't restore our

civilization with somebody else's babies.

Now, he defended those remarks, I'm talking about King here, he defended those remarks on CNN saying he is a champion of western civilization and

has long been concerned about the decline of American culture.

To be frank, this Dutch election is bigger than Wilders. But you might not actually notice given his visibility at present. Just how much does his

narrative reflect that of the wider nationalism across the EU at present? And how is that or has that been informed by what has been going on in the

States in the lead-up to and the aftermath of a Trump election?

ROBERTSON: Well, certainly Wilders believes that Trump and his narrative and the way that he's -- that he built his campaign and the themes that he

stuck to are themes and issues that can resonate for Geert Wilders. I mean, that's something that he believes in. There's been a, if you will,

in The Netherlands a loss of faith by the electorate in their traditional parties. Certainly, if you look at the

number of different parties - I think it's 28 that are running in the elections here - and some of the sort of parties that have less than the

sort of old traditional politics about them are doing quite well. And Wilders is one of those.

So in a way, you know, Wilders reads that part of the situation well, that there's a breakdown that he can exploit and he's exploiting it in the same

way that Donald Trump has, which is by playing to populist ideas. I mean, it's been against immigration for some time. His standings in the polls

have sort of been up and down. They come up towards the end of last year. He

takes whatever opportunity, and we saw this last year when he was in court over allegations of, you know, inflaming nationalist and nationalist


That, you know, he used that as a soap box if you will, to amplify his ideas and views. And no doubt, and we're seeing it at the moment, this is

precisely what it's doing at the moment and so close to the elections he's going to hope this will give them a bounce in the same way that Donald

Trump tried to take a bounce out of every populist thing, be it the spilling of emails from the DNC's hacked computers to whatever it was.

So, in a way, Wilders is lifting as many (inaudible) as he can do from Trump's book.

ANDERSON: All right, Nic Robertson in London for you. Nic, appreciate the analysis. Thank you for that.

We are going to take a very short break here on Connect the World with me, Becky Anderson. Back after this.


[10:42:34] ANDERSON: You're watching CNN. This is Connect the World. I'm Becky Anderson. Welcome back.

We are now marking what is a very cruel anniversary. The war in Syria grinding into its 7th year this month. Hundreds of thousands, as you know,

have been killed, millions have been displaced. And among the hardest hit are the country's most vulnerable people, its kids.

Scenes like this from rebel-held eastern Aleppo last year captured the plight of an entire generation. Millions of children growing up dependent

on aid, a life where a walk to school entails weaving your way through the rubble where the most basic necessities are scarce.

Well, my next guest says that children caught up in the war are, quote, scarred for life with horrific consequences on their health, well-being and


UNICEF's regional director Geert Cappelaere now joins me via Skype. He is in Aleppo this evening, sir.

Just describe what you are seeing and what these children that you are meeting are experiencing.

GEERT CAPPLAERE, UNICEF: Well, Becky, I have been throughout my career in many conflict situations. What I have seen the last two days in Homs and

Aleppo in particularly is for me unprecedented. The levels of destruction I have seen in Homs City, in

Aleppo City, but also on a raid from the Damascus to Homs to Aleppo, to me, a reality that I can't

really describe. So devastating it is.

I have had the privilege to talk yesterday and today to many, many families, to mothers, particularly, and children. Their stories are

horrendous. The stories of people still fleeing today the conflict, adding to the already 5.8 million children who are on a daily basis suffering very

deep humanitarian needs, stories today from families, for example, who have fled the last few days.

(inaudible) region, a mother I met this morning with four children, three of her own between the age of 8 months and 5 years, and the fourth child

that isn't hers that is a child of a neighbor from where she lived. But unfortunately, they have lost complete contact with the family. The child

completely undocumented.

Part of the hundreds of children who have been separated and are unaccompanied. The scars are indeed very, very deep for children.

ANDERSON: What you are describing is hardly -- it was just difficult to believe, but clearly and unfortunately that is the situation in Aleppo

today. So we you very much indeed for joining us.

CAPPELAERE: Thanks, Becky.

ANDERSON: Well, from Abu Dhabi, you're watching Connect the World. So much suffering it's hard to get your head around it, isn't it.

Before we move on, we mentioned twin blasts in Damascus. Just quickly, we give the last

word to one of the victim's children from there.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): When the first explosion happened, my dad was helping the victims. After the second blast, my dad

didn't come back home. May god have mercy on him. He was a kind father.


ANDERSON: Happening all over the country, isn't it?

Live from Abu Dhabi, you're watching Connect the World. I'm Becky Anderson, coming up, we asked you a question and your response has been

incredible. It's less than 24 hours until My Freedom Day starts when students take a stand against Modern Day Slavery. That is ahead here on

the show. Do, stay with us. Quarter to 8:00 in the UAE. Back after this.


ANDERSON: You're with CNN. This is Connect the World with Becky Anderson. If you are just joining us, you are very, very welcome.

Now, modern day slavery, it's around us all. It used to build all kinds of things that we all use every day of our lives, like our mobile phones.

What we put on in the morning. And from what we eat like chocolate bars, to what we drink. That's right, slaves can even be used to harvest the

beans in your coffee.

Well, now a school in Geneva is joining the fight against human trafficking. CNN's Eleni Diokos went to one of their students sessions and

this is what she learned.


ELENI DIOKOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What does freedom mean to you?

For these students in Switzerland, freedom is abundant.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Freedom means being able to pursue what you want without imposing yourself on the freedom of others.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To be able to feel safe wherever you are in the world.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To me, freedom goes beyond rights.

DIOKOS: But in the relative safety of Geneva, they're being exposed to the dark realities of human trafficking. Rasha Hammad, founder of Youth

Underground, has created educational programs in schools around the world.

[11:50:05] RASHA HAMMAD, CO-FOUNDER, YOUTH UNDERGROUND: As in all international communities, the kids are still in a bubble, and even us as

adults, that we are, we tend to be in a bubble. So it's very difficult to crack that.

DIOKOS: An estimated 5.5 million children around the world are victims of human trafficking, with shocking stories that resonate.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My family is from Syria, and they go through a lot of bad things over there, especially women and men. It's so easy for them to

be targets.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where I'm from in Bulgaria, it is the same. Because you have so many teenagers in my age who are being trafficked into countries

like Turkey as well as into Greece.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I knew that a lot of people are being trafficked as young as 1 to 2 years old into the sex trade, but I didn't know that it was

such a global thing.

DIOKOS: Now students are hoping to capitalize their resources for change.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think that we should give that privilege to be able to give a voice to those who don't have it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're so far away from what happens around the world. And whether it's in continents like Africa whether it's in parts of Asia,

it's scary for us, where we lived, as mentioned, we're in a bubble. We don't have -- we don't have -- we have the means to protect ourselves.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe that because of youth underground, it gives me a way of being more aware of my surroundings and it helps me help these

people who know that some of them, and especially the majority of them are stuck in a poverty trap.

DIOKOS: One way to reconnect and connect with others to initiate an echo on social media.

HAMMAD: Now there's Snapchat, there's Facebook, there's all sorts of ways that they do that. They create different groups, they travel together. They

decide to attend different events and talk about trafficking.

DIOKOS: What do you plan to do with the knowledge that you've gotten from the Youth Underground program?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's always about the human contact and trying to help people. Because, I mean, even if it's a cheesy saying, one person, you can

just help one person, and it does make a difference.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My future is now elevated because of school and gives me a platform to raise my voice and to be more influential over people.

DIOKOS: The Youth Underground program is galvanizing a new generation of activists, by using multiple platforms to engage students, where emotions

don't just stay in the classroom.

Eleni Diokos, CNN, Geneva.


ANDERSON: Well, the big day almost here, then. Less than 24 hours, CNN will be live in schools around the world hearing from students about their

stand against modern day slavery. And you have been telling us already what freedom means to you and how precious it is.

Now do keep talking to us. There's still time, post a video using the hashtag #myfreedomday and join me starting 12:00 a.m. eastern time. That

is 8:00 in the morning on Tuesday in Abu Dhabi. I'll be live from the American Community School here. So we're looking forward to that.

Well, freedom and the lack of it has been a theme this hour as we heard earlier. Millions of Syria's kids are trapped in a nightmare they didn't

create and a nightmare that they cannot control. And they are just some of the many refugee children around the world, some of them living in a

conflict that no longer makes it onto our TV screen. For are our Parting Shots then hour photographer Muhammad Muhaisin (ph) showcases his pictures

of refugee children across continents.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The eyes could never lie if the door to the soul. Children all over the world seek fun, joy and happiness. They don't get to

choose where to be born or the circumstances surrounding them.

I like to call it a smile in the middle of the rubble.

Two of my portraits created a lot of feedback within the public. Laiba Hazrat (ph), the 6-year-old Afghan refugee girl, and I decided to introduce

her to the world.

Another image was of Zahara Mahmoud. When I asked her, what would you like me to buy you as a gift? All that she managed to say that I would love to

have hair ties with Mickey Mouse characters on it. So, these are the people that I photograph, kind and humble.

These people can tell if you are a friend or a threat and that's most important thing. Respect is the key.


[10:55:16] ANDERSON: Well, respect is the key. Powerful words and images from the photographer Muhammad Muhaisin (ph). Speaking of, remarkable


And we can't leave you without sharing this video of a home in New York State completely covered in ice after days of freezing temperatures

combined with wind and moisture from a nearby lake.

An awful lot more on the Facebook page for you. If you are a regular viewer, and I'm sure you are, you will know it is

That is - well, (inaudible) from us tonight. We'll be back same time, of course, tomorrow. Same place. Thanks for joining me. I'm Becky Anderson.

And all of the team here wishing you a very good evening. Up next, Richard Quest on the Quest Express.