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Banned Russians Lose Appeal to Take Part in Olympics; Dow Drops for the Second Time this Week; U.S. Government Shutdown Begins, Budget Debate Continues; Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony Just Hours Away; Rob Porter Abuse Allegations. Aired 12-1a ET
Aired February 9, 2018 - 00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[00:00:08] ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: This is CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour.
Just hours away now from the opening ceremony in the biggest Winter Games in history.
Breaking news out of Washington to bring you -- a snag in the budget deal has the United States government shut down yet again.
Abuse cover-up -- the White House concedes it didn't handle allegations of domestic abuse against a top Trump aide as well as it could have.
And a wild, wild ride -- another dizzying day on Wall Street with stocks nose-diving more than a thousand points for the second time this week.
Hello and welcome to our viewers from all around the world. I'm Isha Sesay.
NEWSROOM L.A. starts right now.
Well, the 23rd Winter Olympic Games officially kicks off in just six hours from now at the brand new open-air stadium in Pyeongchang, South Korea amid freezing temperatures. 3,000 athletes will participate but it's the unified team of North and South Korean athletes that will be the center of attention.
North Korea's leader has sent his younger sister to represent the family at the Games. Kim Il-Jong arrived in South Korea just a short time ago. On Saturday she's expected to sit down for a informal lunch with South Korea's leader.
Diplomatic sources tell CNN she may actually invite President Moon Jae-In to visit Pyongyang. No such meeting is expected between Kim and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence who will also be attending the games.
On Friday the Vice President visited a memorial dedicated to the 46 South Korean sailors killed in a North Korean torpedo attack back in 2010. Meantime 47 Russians linked to doping hope a last-minute appeal would get them into the Winter Games but just a short time ago, they learned they are still banned from attending.
Our own Oren Liebermann joins us now from Moscow with more details and reaction. So Oren -- the court of arbitration for sport held a hearing and heard the appeal of these 47 Russian to overturn the IOC ban but their decision ultimately was a no. Did the court give any explanation for its decision?
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It did and the court's decision doesn't have anything to do with doping or to testing procedures or anything like that. In fact it was a rather technical explanation as to why the courts sided with the IOC to uphold the ban of Russian athletes. It's said the International Olympic Committee's decision to allow athletes to compete is essentially an eligibility decision, not a sanction. It's not a punishment, something the Russian Olympic Committee had agreed, but it was an eligibility decision.
And the courts said the Russians never proved that that decision about eligibility was biased in any way so for that reason imply the court sided with the International Olympic Committee and held up the ban of these 40-something Russian athletes trying to make this last-ditch attempt to appeal.
Even if the decision itself is quite technical, it is still a blow to the Russian athletes and the Russian Olympic Committee who were hoping for some sort of last minute reprieve here to get their athletes to compete in Pyeongchang.
SESAY: Yes. Any reaction from Moscow -- I know it's early but any reaction so far?
LIEBERMANN: There hasn't been a reaction yet from Russian President Vladimir Putin or the Kremlin or any of their political leaders.
But there has been from the Russian bob-sleigh team. The head of that team saying they see this as a political decision not about sport and that's an accusation they have leveled at the International Olympic Committee already.
They've said they will appeal because the court of arbitration for sport falls under the jurisdiction of the Swiss Supreme Court. But that feels like more of a statement given the fact that, as you pointed out, the opening ceremonies are six hours away.
The Russian athletes are basically out of options at this point to compete. It's a matter now of national pride, not of sport to see if these ban from the IOC can be overturned. Putin is speaking later today and I suspect we'll have him weighing on this as well.
SESAY: Yes. I'm sure he will have something to say on that.
I want to point out to our viewers that 169 Russian athletes will take part in these games but they will be participating as neutrals.
Explain for us how that will work.
LIEBERMANN: So the IOC had said Russian athletes are not allowed to compete under the Russian flag leveling an accusation of systemic doping against Russian athletes. But if they could prove that they were individually clean, sort of looking at each individual case then they can compete under a generic flag, Olympic athletes from Russia.
Only if they go through the entire games, a few weeks of games here without any issues and get to the closing ceremonies, are they allowed possibly to hold up a Russian flag, to wave Russian symbols at the closing ceremonies.
But having spoken to some of the athletes and having seen them speak to state media here, the athletes have said look, everyone knows who we are, where we're from and more importantly where the medals will go if we win in our events.
[00:05:04] So the Winter Games, especially our point of national pride here, even the athletes in the more obscure sports are considered national heroes and they're taking that pride to the games even if many of them are still not allowed to compete.
SESAY: And to that very point of the Winter Games being a point of national pride for Russia, how much support will they have, these 160 - bearing in mind they will be technically participating as neutrals?
LIEBERMANN: A tremendous amount of support from the Russian public because the games are that important especially the Winter Games. For us, if I would ask you who's on the U.S. biathlon team, an obscure sport, we probably wouldn't know. But for Russians even those athletes are national stars and that's how much the games themselves mean to the Russians.
So even if they don't have all of their athletes competing, about 170 as you pointed out of a contingent of 500 that they wanted. Those athletes will still be held on high here as the Russians root them on even if it is under a generic neutral flag.
And if they win, the Russian anthem will not be played instead it will be the Olympic theme that is played.
SESAY: I'm grateful you didn't ask me that question Oren because I definitely would not have an answer for you.
Thank you -- Oren Liebermann for joining us, appreciate it.
All right. Well, be sure to join CNN for a special edition of NEWSROOM as the Olympics gets under way in Pyeongchang. It all starts at 12:30 p.m. in London and it's 8:30 on Friday evening if you're there in Hong Kong.
We'll also have continuing coverage of the games at CNN.com/Olympics. We've got it all for you right here on CNN.
All right. The world financial markets are on a downhill run of their own. The Dow fell more than a thousand points on Thursday, down more than 4 percent. It's the second thousand-point drop this week.
Markets in Asia are following Wall Street's lead, you can see the red arrows across the board, everything pointing downwards and big losses, deep losses there across the board in Tokyo, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Sydney.
CNN's Richard Quest explains what's driving this downward trend.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD QUEST, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: What it means is that the Dow and the S&P have now fallen more than 10 percent since their recent highs. That we can pretty much say defines a correction.
What we don't know, of course, is what happens next. And therefore we can draw some strength. We're not totally helpless here. We know the reasons why this is happening -- bond yields edging up toward 3 percent, worries about inflation, concerns about debt and deficits, raising up interest rates even more.
So Wolf -- the key message from today, as I think you and I have spoken earlier in the week, this isn't over yet. The market is going to continue to test where it believes true fair value lies and that's on the downside.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESAY: Our own Richard Quest there.
Well, the U.S. government has officially run out of funding and the second government shutdown of the Trump administration has begun. The Senate is still debating a two-year budget bill that has broad support but the vote is being held up by Republican Rand Paul who is concerned about the bill's impact on the federal deficit.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SENATOR RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: Reserving the right to object. The reason I'm here to night is to put people on the spot. I want people to feel uncomfortable. I want them to have to answer people at home who said how come you are against President Obama's deficits and then how come you're for Republican deficits.
Isn't that the very definition of intellectual dishonestly? If you were against President Obama's deficits and now you're for the Republican deficits, isn't that the very definition of hypocrisy?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESAY: Well, let's bring in CNN congressional correspondent Phil Mattingly. Phil -- I know you've had a very long day and many more hours ahead for you.
But let me ask you. What on earth is happening where you are.
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's a great question. I think we've all been asking ourselves that over the course of the last couple of hours.
Look, you need to really split what's going on right now into kind of two issues and frankly two chambers, the two chambers of Congress.
You have the U.S. Senate. You just heard from Senator Rand Paul. What he's wanted throughout the day and why this is taking so long in the United States is he wants an amendment vote to essentially undo the deal that was crafted by the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, top Republican and the top Democrat Senator Chuck Schumer.
What those leaders have said is we're not going to give you that amendment vote because if we allow that then there's going to be other members who will come out of the woodwork and they're going to want changes too. And basically this whole $300 billion deal will completely fall apart.
Because of that Senator Paul has been able to basically elongate this process until about 1:00 a.m. That's when we're going to see the first vote, an hour after the government actually shuts down. By the time that get's done, probably about an hour later, the Senate will have the final vote.
Now, look at the second issue here. And that's the House. And that's the issue that this morning we were all looking at as being the biggest potential problem.
[00:10:00] House Democrats have made clear from the very beginning, they want a firm commitment that the immigration issue, the deferred action program that the President put an end to, March 5th will be the end date, has to be addressed on the House floor.
Speaker Paul Ryan, a Republican, has said look I'm happy to deal with this but I'm only going to deal with it if the President supports the proposal. That's not good enough for House Democrats. Speaker Paul Ryan needs House Democrats to get this across the finish line and therein lies the problem.
The big question right now that we're all trying to figure out, we know what's going to happen in the Senate. It's just a matter of time. It's -- are the House Democratic votes there to get this across the finish line. And I can tell you from heads that I'm talking to, no one's quite sure yet.
SESAY: Yes. Ad give me some sense on the House side what we're hearing from Nancy Pelosi, of course minority leader. It's my understanding that she's not trying to whip the vote. She's not trying to get people not to vote for it. She's asking just to hold their decision close to their chest as it were.
MATTINGLY: Yes. That's exactly right. Look, it's been a bit of a delicate balance throughout the day for Democratic leaders. Their caucus, the people that are in their party in the house is in a much different place than say the Democratic Caucus over on the Senate side.
The House Democrats basically, if you want to kind of track down through where they are, their leadership needs to be a no on this. But they're not behind the scenes twisting arms, if you will, basically saying if you don't vote against this, we're going to punish you with a committee assignment or take away fundraising money or something like that. So it's not like a hard whip which means members have the opportunity to vote yes.
I will tell you behind the scenes, I've been told leader Nancy Pelosi has made clear, she wants this passed. Keep in mind, this is a deal that has major increases in non-defense domestic spending that Democrats have been seeking for years. So Leader Pelosi's staff was integral in actually crafting this deal.
So they want -- they want the votes to actually get there but they want the public specter of that actually occurring. So as you can see, it's a bit of an odd dynamic right now that's been going on.
And so that's why you have this uncertainty right now. We should know probably in about four or five hours where they actually end up. But the idea that we're getting to this point and this is actually going to get to the House floor without everybody knowing where the vote is, that's a rare and be pretty risky.
SESAY: Yes. And let me ask you this. As you talk about Leader Pelosi's position that she wants this to pass because a number of Democratic priorities are met in this budget deal. How much rancor is there in the Democratic caucus the fact that, you know, this is the position that Leader Pelosi is taking given what we were going through just a couple of weeks ago over DACA and Democrats saying, this was their moment to get a deal on immigration for the Dreamers?
MATTINGLY: Yes. Look, that's the crux of the issue right now. There is significant -- almost anger, maybe -- depending on which Democrat you talk to are outraged at the fact that this hasn't been addressed before, the fact that they haven't been able to find an avenue or a pathway to get this addressed in a way that they feel like it doesn't put the thumb on the scale towards one plan or the other. The fact that this issue is even out there right now when 70 percent -- 80 percent of the country approves of the idea of the so-called Dreamers getting pathways to citizenship.
There's extreme frustration in that. And frankly that comes with being the minority party. You don't have a lot of leverage particularly in the U.S. House to make things happen. That's why they seize on moments like this because they know Speaker Paul Ryan needs Democratic votes. If he needs Democratic votes, Democrats can try and extract a promise here.
I think the frustration is they feel like they were undercut by their Senate colleagues. They feel like they're kind of left behind by them. And because of that they're in a bit of a less of a situation right now than they would want to be. That's why you've seen the frustration throughout the course of the day. And frankly, that's exactly why you'd seen the uncertainty about where their votes are actually going to be.
SESAY: Well, Phil Mattingly -- I hope you have a lot of coffee by your side. And we will be with you in the hours ahead. Phil Mattingly -- we very much appreciate it there on Capitol Hill. Thank you.
Well, Michael Genovese is a political analyst and president of the Global Policy Institute at Loyola Marymount University. And Jessica Levinson is a professor of law and governance at Loyola Law School. They are partners in academia, if you will.
Welcome. Thank you for being with us.
Michael -- to start with you, how surprised are you that we're here at this position, a second government shutdown because of Rand Paul.
MICHAEL GENOVESE, POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Rand Paul has been a bit of a gadfly and an outsider. He likes being the outlier. The problem is he's shutting down the government on his own. But being Don Quixote tilting at windmills means that he's basically saying to everyone else you play by my rules or we don't play. He's going to have to give in at some point and some point fairly soon.
He has traditionally been a budget hawk. He wants to keep the budget deficit down, cut it but ironically he was talking in your clip about hypocrisy. He also voted for the Trump tax cut which is going to add dramatically to the budget deficit.
So you don't expect perfect consistency from politicians but there are sometimes when your votes really do look not like hypocrisy necessarily but certainly paradoxical.
SESAY: Yes. And Jessica to that point, the hypocrisy is a paradox that Rand Paul is holding things up in the Senate, at least temporarily after he voted for tax cuts that added a whopping amount to the deficit, some $1.5 trillion by some estimates.
JESSICA LEVINSON, PROFESSOR OF LAW AND GOVERNANCE, LOYOLA LAW SCHOOL: Well, yes. And I mean let's be honest. Rand Paul is throwing his weight around. I mean we're all talking about him.
And we just used his name how many times on international television and I think look, that's part of the point. He's out there and he's literally saying you're going to have to listen to me.
And I mean we could view this in a negative way as Rand Paul is basically throwing a tantrum and as a result the U.S. government is shutting down.
Or we could view it in a positive way and say well, he feels very strongly about these issues and he's right that this would increase spending caps and it would increase our ability to have a much bigger budget deficit. And so there is some -- there is truth to what he's saying in terms of we're exploding the debt and this goes against what I believe in.
SESAY: But he knew he's fighting a losing battle. LEVINSON: He knows he's fighting a losing battle and he knows that there are other Senate procedures in place where frankly he could make the same point but without the same splash. And I think that this is a lot of free media time for his next election.
SESAY: Interesting. We're going to hit pause. We're going to come back and talk about all the day's other big political stories. So stay with me.
We're going to take a very quick break.
The White House is in damage control mode after domestic abuse allegations against a top aide. We'll hear from one of Rob Porter's ex-wives next.
SESAY: Hello everyone.
A little less than six hours to go now before the opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in South Korea. I want to go to our man who's there amidst the freezing temperatures. Our own Ivan Watson is in Pyeongchang.
Ivan -- the opening ceremony will be happening very shortly. The theme is "Peace in Motion". We've been promised a spectacle. What more do we know about that opening ceremony.
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We're still waiting to find out some of the details. But expect a big show. I'm going to swing us around so that you can see the stadium where that ceremony will be taking place. It's an open-air stadium.
I think we can anticipate some appearance by some of Korea's famous K- Pop stars. That was a $286 million export industry in 2016. That would be taking place over there.
Themes which had been stressed by the government is that these are the Peace Games -- Isha. And an organizer has insisted that the last minute addition of North Korea to the Winter Olympics has not made any real change to the opening ceremony but that it will help with that theme.
The IOC president Thomas Bach, the head of the International Olympic Committee, he said that the moment in his opinion will be when the North and South Korean teams come out under the unification Korea flag.
Now we know that the South Korean flag holder will be the bobsledder Won Yun-jong. As for the North Korean flag holder, well, as with almost everything else over the past couple of weeks, the North Koreans are keeping us in suspense. We still don't know who that will be.
[00:15:08] One other thing I'd like to stress here, in the distance here in this little square, we can see some of the demonstrators, some of the protesters, some of them behind the police line -- anti-North Korea protesters; others, criticizing the U.S.
What does that tell us? Well, it tells us, Isha, that this Olympics is taking place in a democracy where people who have public opinions, criticisms are allowed to protest within hundreds of meters of the Olympic stadium. Things we did not see at other Olympics in the past, Sochi for example. You wouldn't see it in North Korea either -- Isha.
SESAY: Yes. No, remarkable point and one worth showing out here (ph). Ivan Watson there in Pyeongchang -- stay warm. Thank you.
Let's turn our attention back to U.S. politics. And the White House is scrambling to say why it kept staff secretary Rob Porter on the job after allegations of domestic violence. Porter resigned on Wednesday and he denies the charges. A source says the White House counsel and the chief of staff were aware of the claims after the FBI interviewed Porter last fall.
His first ex-wife released a picture of herself, you see it there with a black eye. She says Porter punched her. The FBI spoke with both of Porter's ex-wives as part of a security clearance which was never approved.
White House chief of staff John Kelly sent an e-mail to staff on Thursday saying quote, "While we are processing the shocking and troubling allegations made against a former White House staffer, I want you to know that we all take matters of domestic violence seriously. Domestic violence is abhorrent and has no place in our society."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAJ SHAH, WHITE HOUSE PRINCIPAL DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: I think it's fair to say that, you know, we all could have done better over the last few hours or the last few days in dealing with this situation. But you know, this is a Rob Porter that I and many others have dealt with, that Sarah had dealt with, that other officials including the chief of staff had dealt with. And the emerging reports were not reflective of the individual who we had come to know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESAY: Well, Porter's second ex-wife says he recently asked her to downplay allegations of domestic abuse. She spoke with CNN's Anderson Cooper.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Rob Porter is now in a relationship with the White House press secretary Hope Hicks. Do you think he's changed?
JENNIE WILLOUGHBY, FORMER WIFE OF ROB PORTER: I don't think he's changed.
COOPER: Does that worry you? WILLOUGHBY: It worries me for a lot of reasons. I mean it definitely worries me because if I'm being frank with you, if he hasn't already been abusive with Hope, he will. And particularly now that he's under a lot of stress and scrutiny, that's when the behaviors come out. And if he hasn't already, he will.
COOPER: Do you think he can't -- he has not gotten help. He can't stop at this point.
WILLOUGHBY: I don't think that he has done the self-reflective work to acknowledge this issue.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESAY: Well, back with our panel now -- Michael Genovese and Jessica Levinson.
So Jessica -- CNN reporting as well as other organizations have turned up the fact that a number of senior White House aides were aware of these allegations against Rob Porter, not least because his security clearance hasn't been fully granted. He was operating on a temporary clearance.
That being said, the FBI investigated it. Others have also said former FBI officials and others who knew the process that that surely would have been kicked up to other White House staffers and aides that this is a problem. This is going on.
So when we take all of that and you put it on the table and then you place it next to the chief of staff John Kelly saying we all take matters of domestic violence seriously. It seems a little hard to square the two. What are your thoughts?
LEVINSON: Well, let's take a step back. This is a group of people who are working for a president who's on tape bragging about sexual assault. So do we really need to be surprised that Rob Porter who, of course, they had information -- maybe not detailed information -- but information as to why his security clearance was being halted and why he only had the temporary clearance and they may have just known in very vague sense that this is about domestic abuse allegations.
I mean it really strains common sense to think that anything in that statement would ring true. Every action indicates that no, they do not take this seriously. No, they are not particularly concerned about sexual assault, about domestic violence. And this is not just General Kelly who knew about this.
So Rob Porter started under a previous chief of staff. So there are at least two chiefs of staff who in broad brush strokes likely knew about the allegation. And this is really -- it pains me to say but entirely consistent with the actions I see from the administration in not really being concerned about this.
[00:24:57] SESAY: Michael Genovese -- I've heard people say the White House is upset that this has become a PR nightmare but really if anything this is really also something that speaks to the culture at the White House. And that's really what's troubling to many people the fact that it speaks to a culture at the White House but also the fact that the actions are only being taken now that it's out there in the public.
GENOVESE: Well, it is the scandal du jour and a number of people thought that General Kelly when he was pulled in as chief of staff would rein in the chaos, get control and bring some order to an out of control White House.
Unfortunately what he's done is that he's been an enabler of President Trump and all of the other people around him. And in fact he's fed into many of worst aspect of his personality. And so we should take a step back and somebody said that it is never, never, never ok to beat your spouse.
And real men don't do that. And maybe we need to teach our young boys and young men about self-respect and respect of others but that behavior is not only illegal, it's just damn wrong.
SESAY: Jessica -- the other point that people make and it's a statement of fact that as people knew, some people knew all of this. This man's stock was still rising within the White House.
LEVINSON: And one thing that was really interesting that was played on the clip was, you know, a lot of us knew Rob Porter and we just don't see it. People who are guilty of domestic violence don't walk around the office --
SESAY: They never have a sign on their back saying hey, you know --
LEVINSON: Most people -- I don't want to say most people but many people who are guilty of crime, I mean how often do we hear people say I never my neighbor could do that? So the idea that well, didn't see it so maybe it didn't happen is kind of the implication or maybe it wasn't really that bad.
SESAY: -- therefore it didn't happen.
LEVINSON: That's troubling. And the idea that look, there were people who absolutely were in higher places in the White House who knew about this but his stock was rising and he was profiled as the most important person who's behind the scenes in the Trump White House. He helped write part of the State of the Union.
And I think without this becoming public frankly, he was just moving higher and higher in the administration. And General Kelly seems to have offered his full throated support. And I think frankly the only thing that upsets people is that it's become public.
And Michael -- very quickly as we're almost out of time -- Raj Shah apparently is in trouble now, at least, there's some unhappiness that he publicly acknowledged that this could have been handled better. GENOVESE: That's the story we'll keep hearing. Ok, it was wrong, we could have handled it better. We could have done better. How many times do we have to hear that? Why don't you just do it better?
And I think that's the standard we need to hold the presidency to. It's not just the collection of mistakes that we could have done better.
This is the top job in American politics. And if they can't get it right, there is something fundamentally wrong. We know that the fish stinks form the head down. And is this because of Trump is it in spite of Trump?
What we do know is that scandal du jour is not a way to run a government?
SESAY: Yes. Michael Genovese, Jessica Levinson -- always appreciate it.
GENOVESE: Thank you.
SESAY: Thank you.
All right. Quick break.
Uncovering the truth in Myanmar. Two Reuters journalists are in jail for looking into abuses against Rohingya Muslims. Now the report is public. We are going to bring it to you next.
[00:28:19] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay. The headlines this hour:
SESAY: Now to the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Myanmar and the story the government did not want told. It's the reason why two Reuters journalists are behind bars facing 14 years in jail.
The men were researching reports of a mass grave in Rakhine State's Inn Din village. The journalists were arrested before they could publish but now Reuters has the story and it is chilling.
The news organization obtained exclusive photographs of 10 men -- you see them here. Shortly after these pictures were taken they were killed. Their bodies stacked on top of each other in a shallow grave. We are not going to show you that horrific, graphic photo.
Eyewitnesses told Reuters that at least two of the men were hacked to death by Buddhist villagers. The others were shot by the military. Reuters found family members of the victims in Bangladeshi refugee camps, who say they've been left in the dark.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): When they were taking them away, they said, do not worry. We will send your sons back soon. We are taking them for a meeting.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): The security forces took my husband away with them and I don't know exactly what happened but people say they were killed. I heard this from media reports as well but I have not seen anything to prove they are dead.
SESAY (voice-over): The Myanmar government spokesman responded to the Reuters reporting saying, "We are not denying the allegations about violations of human rights and we are not giving blanket denials. If there was strong and reliable primary evidence of abuses, the government would investigate.
"And then if we found the evidence is true and the violations are there, we will take the necessary action according to our existing law."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESAY: Let's get more now from Thomas Nybo. He's a photographer and filmmaker who's spent a lot of time reporting on the Rohingya crisis. He joins me now from near Cox's Bazaar in Bangladesh.
Thomas, thank you for joining us. The details contained in this Reuters report are distressing and with each day that passes, we learn more about the horrors Rohingya face in northern Rakhine State before fleeing to Bangladesh.
You've been there in the camps for some three months.
What sticks out in your mind, having heard countless stories of mass atrocities?
THOMAS NYBO, PHOTOGRAPHER AND FILMMAKER: I think the most important to remember is that the suffering continues. People continue to arrive, Rohingya refugees coming over the border from Myanmar into Bangladesh.
I just received a text a few minutes ago that 120 arrived. I was with a group of 134 a few days ago and the entire group is terrified. They were afraid after just arriving hours before that the Bangladesh government might force them to return to Myanmar.
I spoke with one man in particular, a 45-year-old father of five children, Hussain Zakar (ph), who told me that the behavior of the Myanmar soldiers is actually evolving. He said you won't see burning villages because where there's smoke, there's fire.
So they're a little bit more clever about it. He told me horrific tales of soldiers going through the village and systematically torturing men, removing their fingernails, burning and pulling out their beards.
And I asked him, show me somebody, you know, with these injuries and he said they're too smart for that. If they injure you, they will take you away and once you are taken away and the men run for safety to the jungles, the soldiers come at night and systematically rape the women.
So the suffering continues.
SESAY: Thomas, these refugee camps are growing by the (INAUDIBLE) you made clear, people are still coming. These spaces are among the most crowded in the world.
What do people not get about the conditions when they look at the pictures?
What gets lost?
NYBO: The scale gets lost. Over the past six months you have approximately 690,000 new arrivals who've joined a population of hundreds of thousands. So what you now have is the largest refugee camp in the world.
And in a way, despite the atrocities, it's the calm before the storm. Everyone is gearing up for the arrival of the rains, which could come as early as April. With the rains will come landslides, will come flooding. It becomes treacherous.
I was here in September during the rainy season and broke my own leg. Most of the children don't have shoes. They've built homes, tents, these makeshift bamboo huts anywhere they can. And UNICEF itself has 70 classrooms in danger and they're going to have to move these.
There must be a mass mobilization just to move the latrines, build new latrines in safe areas; there are a lot of other activities on the ground to protect this huge population of approximately 1 million people, including the new arrivals and those who were here before.
We have pregnant women who need to be moved near health systems. We have to step up increased water treatment. The potential for diarrheal diseases, possibly even cholera is there.
SESAY: I've read the report about what could be coming with the monsoon and it's terrifying. It's terrifying. It's like a slow moving nightmare.
I want to show our viewers some of your images that really hit home for me and my team. We're showing our viewers this picture that you took of Muhammad Hussein (ph).
Can you share some of his story with us?
NYBO: Which photo is that? I sent 20. I'm not -- I don't have a television. SESAY: No, understood. Muhammad (ph) is saying -- it's as photo, black-and-white photo of just this gentleman in profile, who lost his wife.
What happened to him?
That one actually, I met him in a camp and his wife died in the camp. She had -- she was vomiting blood. It did not happen in Myanmar. It happened in the camp and she was vomiting blood and within 36 hours she had died. And so now Muhammad (ph) is left raising his 10 children in a plastic and bamboo hut by himself.
SESAY: The scale of suffering is hard to comprehend. I want to put up another image, Thomas. We're showing this image of three crying children.
What's the backstory to this image?
NYBO: This is the group spent a day with; 134 arrivals on two boats and they were terrified. They were despondent. The children, the men, the women, that they were going to be forced back to Myanmar.
Across the board I've spoken with dozens of refugees, especially the new arrivals and they tell me over and over, I will never return. Kill me here if you must but don't send me back to that horrific place.
The ones who do talk about returning, of course, the idea of home is a powerful idea and they would like to go back but under these conditions. They want to be acknowledged as citizens with the attendant rights. They want the return of their property and they would like to have their security guaranteed, preferably by a third party.
And I just don't see this happening, personally.
SESAY: Do they feel that the world has failed them?
Do they feel like the world has forgotten about them?
I wonder, as you speak to them, what their sense is, if they even have the bandwidth to think about the wider world after everything they've been through.
NYBO: I want to share with you one of the most powerful stories, one of the most powerful conversations I've had covering this crisis.
I was with a group of women at a UNICEF space; a lot of them had been attacked. A lot of them had been raped. And there was a woman, she was wearing a veil. And after she became comfortable with me, she removed the veil and she had dark circles under her eyes, blood vessels burst in her eyes.
And she said, I want to tell you my story. And I explained to her that if I share her photo, the world can see this. And repeatedly she told me, the world needs to know what happened. She was playing with her four children; soldiers grabbed her 4-year- old boy, threw him in the air, stabbed him with machetes until he died. She ran to them, despondent, crying. She said just kill me, kill me.
They beat her with the butts of their rifles. This was just two months ago. And the horseshoe-sized -- the horseshoe-shaped bruises are still beneath her eyes. She still can't see properly. Her eyes are so red from the burst blood vessels.
And she talked about being beaten and, before she lost consciousness, four or five soldiers were gang-raping her. And she said the world needs to hear about this so it doesn't happen again.
SESAY: It's almost too much to bear, let alone for the people who've endured it. Thomas Nybo --
SESAY: -- we continue to tell the story because we agree with them. The world needs to know and the world cannot look away.
Thank you, my friend. I've known you for many years and your work is always incredible. And thank you for sharing the stories. We're very grateful to you.
NYBO: Thanks, Isha.
SESAY: We are going to take a very quick break. We'll have much more news on the other side. Stay with us.