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Global Markets Battered Again, U.S. Futures Plunging; Nearly 16 Million People Face Lockdown in Italy; North Korea Launches Several Projectiles; 1,100 Confirmed Cases in Japan; Refugees Forced Back from Greece, Left in Limbo. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired March 9, 2020 - 01:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[01:00:00]

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. I'm Michael Holmes.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: I'm Natalie Allen. Coming up next here on CNN NEWSROOM. With a number of coronavirus cases around the world now approaching 110,000, we look at the different ways countries are trying to contain this disease.

HOLMES: Plus, North Korea is at it once again launching at least three projectiles into the sea off its coast. And we are a day away from Super Tuesday part two with six states up for grabs for the Democratic presidential hopefuls. We'll tell you why it could be a make or break moment for Bernie Sanders.

Thanks for joining us. And we began with of course the coronavirus. At sea and on land, countries are struggling to stop the outbreak. Here's some of the latest for you. The virus has infected more than 108,000 people worldwide and has killed at least 3,800. Nearly a quarter of all cases are now outside the virus epicenter in mainland China.

HOLMES: The number of the U.S. cases is top 516 and that number could rise as a cruise ship waits to dock in California. The Grand Princess has at least 21 people with the virus who are on board.

ALLEN: Egypt is also facing a cruise ship emergency. It says a Nile Cruise is quarantine after at least 45 people tested positive for the virus. Cases also keep surging in Europe. Spain's number of infected has spiked to nearly 650. And France is banning large gatherings as it reports more than 1100 cases.

HOLMES: But Europe's worst-hit country remains Italy with more than 7,300 cases and at least 366 deaths. It's putting around a quarter of the population on lockdown to contain the virus. Meanwhile, investors are pretty worried about the financial impact of the outbreak. Dow Futures plunging more than 1,000 points in early trading Sunday. The S&P 500 fell as much as five percent, triggering an exchange limit.

And another concern for markets, oil prices tanking in a historic collapse. Saudi Arabia and Russia are in a bit of a price war at the moment after Moscow refused to go along with an OPEC push to cut production. Journalists Kaori Enjoji is in Tokyo with more on this. Before the markets open here in the U.S., I'm just reading a lot of dire predictions.

KAORI ENJOJI, JOURNALIST: Absolutely, it's almost like it's as if a perfect storm is hitting the markets. And really this plunge that you mentioned in the oil price is really the last thing that the capital markets needed right now. But with this huge drop, something we haven't seen since 1991, the markets were sent for the Asian open on a very weak note, and that is exactly what happened.

And as the market was opening, you had other variables, like the yen surging against the dollar. And the dollar-yen is a critical trade. This is one of the most liquid pairs in the currency market. And when you see a drop of this magnitude, three years and four months, and people are calling -- reminded of the so-called flash crash that happened in dollar-yen about a year ago, and on top of that you had the projectiles being fired from North Korea, it was really a perfect storm ahead of the open in equity trading here in Tokyo and the market really tanked from the onset.

It is still down more than five and a half percent on the equity market in Tokyo. That is a loss of more than 1,100 points, 19,565. And quickly after that, you saw the markets in China open and those followed suit and continue to languish. You're also seeing gold prices jump today, jumping past the 1,700-dollar level. This is the first time since late 2012. So it seems that all of these factors are converging today to in the run-up to the market open in the U.S. stateside and it's looking very, very dire.

We're also hearing that the Japanese government might announce a second -- excuse me -- economic stimulus package sometime tomorrow to weigh and to help some of the businesses that are badly hurt by the coronavirus. But the governments around the world including Japan, of course, are in a very tough position because do you announce further closures to businesses, do you continue to keep telling people that they need to stay indoors?

At the same time risk of further weakening of the economic activity because you can feel the businesses are shutting down and on top of that, you really don't have a true sense of whether businesses in the epicenter of the coronavirus which is Wuhan, and a major industrial hub will start to -- when those will start to resume operations is normal. And a lot of technology companies and automobile companies are hoping that will happen sometime this week, but we still don't know. So the government's getting squeezed on both sides.

And you have data as suggesting that even before this Coronavirus, a lot of economies were at a very, very weak state. So as we have it right now, we're seeing continued weakness in the capital markets. It's pretty bad omen ahead of the start in U.S. trading later today. Guys?

[01:05:49]

HOLMES: Yes, I'm reading a lot of analysts and people who were around in the -- in the 2008 situation. I'm seeing a lot of dire predictions about where this is headed this week, at least In terms of the markets, let alone the coronavirus, and of course it's all intertwined. Kaori Enjoji, great summary there of some pretty bleak stuff. Thank you.

Meanwhile, nearly 16 million people are facing lockdown in Italy as the virus spreads there.

ALLEN: That includes all of Lombardi and 14 provinces in the northern part of the country. The restrictions covered travel and many public gatherings but it's unclear how much they're being enforced. CNN's Ben Wedeman has more for us from Bologna.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So early on Sunday, the Italian government announced a new decree with draconian new measures to try to contain the spread of the coronavirus. The red zones which until Sunday included just 11 towns in about 50,000 people have been dramatically expanded to the region of Lombardi where Milan is and 14 provinces with a total population of 16 million.

Now, the variety of measures that are being taken with that are extreme. Nobody can leave or enter the area, although we drove out of it and saw no sign of any controls on the population. Schools, universities, museums, any sort of public place where people gather, they're all closed. Bars and restaurants are only allowed to be open from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. And those inside need to keep a distance of a meter between one another.

The reason why this decree was passed is that the number of new coronavirus cases continues to increase in inexorably. The latest numbers that were announced on Sunday evening put the total number of recorded cases of coronavirus and all of Italy at 7,375. That's an increase of 1,492, the biggest increase yet. In addition, the number of new deaths 133, bringing the total to 366.

These are numbers that this country is increasingly alarmed over, which explains why they've taken these measures. The question is, are these measures going to work? I'm Ben Wedeman, CNN, reporting from Bologna.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ALLEN: Talking about the market in Italy struggling before this happened as well. Well, after spending several extra days at sea, the Grand Princess cruise ship will be allowed into Oakland, California Monday.

HOLMES: Yes, at least 21 people on board that ship do have the coronavirus. It was not allowed to dock in San Francisco, you might remember. People who need medical care, they're going to get off first, and then U.S. passengers are going to be sent to quarantine centers in California, Texas, and Georgia for 14 days.

ALLEN: International passengers will be sent home on shorter flights. The ship's staff will remain on board for their quarantine. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): We are not prepared to tell you exactly when. And for those passengers that may be watching this, we are not able to tell you exactly when the cruise ship will come in to the port as we are still working out the enormity of complexity of making sure we prepare the site, and moreover, prepare for quick turnaround and quick boarding of individuals to respective locations which I will talk about in a moment.

We want to make sure that all of that is locked in before the ship comes to port, which I think would just create more anxiety for the passengers and moreover, for the general public.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[01:10:01]

HOMES: And joining me now is Stephen Morse. He's a professor of epidemiology at Columbia University. Great to have you, professor. I mean --

STEPHEN MORSE, PROFESSOR OF EPIDEMIOLOGY, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: Thank you.

HOLMES: -- let's start with this. We've seen what Italy is doing basically quarantining an entire region. How difficult is that and more generally, how successful is quarantining on any kind of large scale, regionally, a city, or even a cruise ship?

MORSE: It's actually a Herculean task and we've never really done it before. So this is really unprecedented. I think that theoretically, it's possible to stop an infection like a pandemic influenza, or even a seasonal influenza, or a Coronavirus infection, theoretically, if you get it at the source and stop it early enough. In China, unfortunately, after some initial delays, it had gotten too far away to be able to do that.

HOLMES: And you mentioned the -- you mentioned this, and it's important, the testing. And in the U.S., you know, numbers comparatively low versus population size, but you know, woeful levels of testing so far. Does that hide the reality of what is probably out there?

MORSE: I think so because most of the people as far as we know, and from the results in China, most of the people who are infected actually don't show very serious signs of illness. In some cases, they may not even show any signs at all. So they're really not very sick. And we see the cases that people would come to medical attention, because they're sick enough to go to the hospital.

And in most cases, there are people who are older, may have some underlying medical condition. But in the meantime, all those other healthy younger people are still able to transmit the infection. And we don't know about that until we test them. HOLMES: I'm wondering if there's a risk at the moment, and we've sort

of seen some evidence of that, a risk that political considerations outweigh or could outweigh best practices in terms of the decision making on the political level?

MORSE: Well, I think that there's always that possibility. Usually, in these situations, we hope that the political leaders are getting their cues from the scientists. And of course, it's the political leaders who have the credibility and are able to reassure people based on the best scientific advice. And hopefully, at some point, we will -- we will find the happy middle ground on that one.

But we don't know at this point. We've never really had any experience with this type of coronavirus that spreads from person to person, but is closely related to SARS. And that was something we hadn't expected, so naturally, we're being very vigilant and watchful. We know what we've seen so far, but we don't know what to expect in the future. So we're obviously trying to be very careful to anticipate all possibilities.

HOLMES: When you look at Italy, they're -- that's a country with a good health system, an excellent one. There are severe pressures on infrastructure. In the U.S., do you see that happening? And also this important factor that in the U.S. with its health care system, there are a lot of -- millions and millions of people who are uninsured or underinsured who aren't going to want to go to the hospital because it could bankrupt them. I mean, have you seen the system being overwhelmed potentially?

MORSE: Well, I think it is quite possible because even during a very heavy seasonal flu, we find that it puts a tremendous burden on our health care system. And during an influenza pandemic like 2009 or some of the earlier ones which are even rougher, 1957 for example, it really stretches the healthcare system almost to its limits.

So I think that it is quite a challenge even under the circumstances we've expected in the past. And I think that right now, we have resource limitations, a lot of the equipment, and some other things actually come from China. And I think there is a need for really planning now and making sure we can identify the resources.

And I agree with you about I think the point about the uninsured and underinsured and homeless people, for example. That's a serious problem because we don't want people going to the emergency room if they're not feeling well, because if they have this infection, they might pass it on to others who don't have it yet. If they don't have this infection, they may catch themselves while being in contact with others who haven't.

So we prefer obviously, that only the people who really need medical attention and are sick enough, you know, immediately go into the hospital and they should be taken there by ambulance or some other secure conveyance. But many people who are not insured are used to using the emergency room essentially as their primary care facility. And unfortunately, it's going to be very hard to accommodate people in an emergency room setting. [01:15:09]

HOLMES: Right? And of course, there are a lot of people in the U.S. who do not have sick pay and so unlikely to go to work when they are sick because they can't afford not to. Professor Stephen Morse, we got to leave it there. I appreciate your time and your expertise. Thank you.

MORSE: Thank you.

ALLEN: All right, so again, these cases are all around the world. Of course, it started in China and China reported 22 more deaths on Sunday and 40 new cases. But the National Health Commission there also says almost 59,000 patients have recovered and have been discharged from hospitals. CNN's Steven Jiang joining us from Beijing. That is certainly some welcomed news in all of this, Steven.

STEVEN JIANG, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER: That's right, Natalie. I think the authorities here very much want to what direct people's attention to the fact that, you know, the number of newly confirmed cases both nationwide, and in the epicenter continues to drop. You mentioned that 40 new cases they reported nationwide for Sunday.

Now, 36 of these 40 came from Wuhan, the epicenter. If you -- as far as you know, official figures are concerned, this is quite remarkable. Remember, just a few weeks ago, the number of new cases in Wuhan was in the hundreds or even thousands every day. So, you know, because of this huge drop now in that city, in Wuhan, they are -- they have now closed several of these makeshift hospitals, you know, facilities converted from existing spaces like indoor stadiums or exhibition centers facilities that they opened when the city's healthcare infrastructure was totally overwhelmed by people seeking medical attention.

So now with all these declining numbers, they don't need as many of these makeshift hospitals as just a few weeks ago. And another sign of the government's growing confidence came from the weekend when a senior central government official told local officials to get prepared coming up -- coming up with plans to what to get people back to work and let non-local residents leave Wuhan.

Now, if anyone or both of these things were to happen, that would be a huge deal as well. Remember, the city of Wuhan and surrounding province having under a very strict lockdown for over six weeks now, which has really wreaked havoc on people's lives and livelihood. You know, millions of people have been stuck there for over six weeks.

So that's why you've seen a lot of these pent of frustration and anger sometimes burst into open both online but also in the real world. That, of course, is also a growing concern for the officials who are also, Natalie, concerned about -- now concerned about imported cases involving people returning from overseas. So a very different picture now here in China. Natalie?

ALLEN: Right, yes. All this work to contain it and now it could circle back around. No one knows once it is contained, is it sustainable? Steven Jiang, though, with some bit of hopeful news for us. Thank you, Steven.

HOLMES: We needed it.

ALLEN: Yes, we'll take it.

HOLMES: We'll take it. When we come back, North Korea launches projectiles for a second time in a week.

ALLEN: Yes. Why now? What's up? We'll take you live to Seoul, South Korea about that.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN INTERNATIONAL METEOROLOGIST: As always, thank you for staying with CNN. I'm Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri. We watch the weather pattern across the Americas with sunny skies, mild temperatures on the eastern seaboard of the U.S. back towards the Southwest where they've enjoyed that sort of conditions.

[01:20:03]

We are seeing rain begin to push into the forecast and across the Northwest, a much deserved mostly sunny pattern taking shape. And here's the perspective. The wet weather are beginning to push it across the Midwest, enough cold air back behind it for spots to produce some wintry weather and moving from Tuesday -- in Tuesday, Wednesday, and beyond.

Much of the latter half of the week brings additional showers in areas that really don't need wet weather but it is not a tremendous amount. Generally, less than 25 millimeters is what we expect. Atlanta should stay dry on Monday, highs upper teens there. Chicago comes in at 13 degrees. Winnipeg often known as Winterpeg, and they have temperatures to support it, minus nine, as we approach the spring season within the next couple of weeks.

Look in New York City, speaking of spring, break out the shorts, breakout the T-shirts, temps pushing up to 20 degrees that is just shy of 70 Fahrenheit with sunny skies. It does cool off but again, you see that hint of spring push back into the forecast quickly. Long term outlook brings us back down to reality into the single digits.

Mexico City, thanks for tuning in, upper 20s there. On into San Juan we go where showers are expected, some winds in the forecast as well, not too bad though, highs around 25 degrees.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOLMES: Welcome back. North Korea appears to be again ramping up weapons testing. Both U.S. and South Korean officials confirmed projectiles have been fired into waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan.

ALLEN: The United States says they were launched from the North Korean city of Wonsan. That's not the first time that this has happened and it says the tests were not unexpected. CNN's Ivan Watson joins us from Seoul, South Korea with more on this developing story and you just got to wonder why now and what's up, Ivan.

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And why now, it comes exactly a week after the U.S. military says North Korea fired to short-range ballistic missiles also on a Monday. In this case, the South Korean military says there's at least three unidentified projectiles. A U.S. official has said that it is for projectiles to CNN. There is often a little bit of discrepancy in the early hours after one of these launches.

The South Korean military says the object -- the projectiles flew about 200 kilometers at an altitude of 50 kilometers. And the South Korean military regrets this action saying that it runs against the spirit of a September agreement between North and South Korea between their militaries to try to reduce military tension on the Korean peninsula.

Japan's Prime Minister has gone a step further. He has called this a threat to peace and security in the region, though the projectiles don't seem to have landed within the economic exclusion zone of Japan. And again, this comes a week after a previous suspected ballistic missile launch, which was condemned by five European countries in a statement to the United Nations Security Council resolution where they accused North Korea of violating United Nations Security Council resolutions. Pyongyang fired back at that saying that this is all a measure of self-defense.

ALLEN: My goodness. All right, meantime, Ivan, what can you tell us about the coronavirus impact on U.S.-South Korea military exercises?

WATSON: It's substantial. Both militaries have detected infections within their ranks, dozens of infections within the South Korean military. The U.S. has detected several and it's prompted the alliance to suspend all joint military exercises indefinitely.

The U.S. military, also the Army, made a statement ordering all soldiers to suspend any travel between the U.S. and South Korea which has implications on the soldiers on their families, families that may have packed up their belongings already and we're about to move. They can no longer leave. So there are national security, potential implications.

[01:25:14]

And also we've seen tensions exacerbating between two key U.S. allies in the region, South Korea and Japan, with South Korea just announcing that it is not going to -- it is invalidating effectively, any visas that Japanese may have to come to South Korea, as Seoul and Tokyo have been engaged in a kind of tit for tat dispute over travel restrictions around the epidemic.

North Korea to date has not confirmed any infections within North Korea, but it's not exactly the most transparent of countries. It is worth noting that aid organizations like Doctors Without Borders and The International Committee Federation of the Red Cross have successfully gained waivers from the U.N. for sanctions to get potential emergency medical supplies to North Korea. I think the assumption is if the epidemic reaches the North, it will

be an enormous burden on that health system in that country. Natalie, Michael?

ALLEN: All right, we appreciate it. Ivan Watson for us in Seoul. Thank you, Ivan. Another major round of voting will take place Tuesday in the United States in a Democratic presidential race.

HOLMES: Yes. There are 352 delegates at stake. The big prizes Michigan which is critical -- was critical in 2016, will again be in 2020. Senator Bernie Sanders narrowly won the state in that year's primary 2016, but Donald Trump ultimately flipped the site to his side in the general election.

ALLEN: Sanders once the front runner is now chasing former Vice President Joe Biden in the overall delegate count. Both men spent the weekend campaigning across the Midwest.

Well, the government in Japan has come under enormous scrutiny for its handling of the coronavirus outbreak.

HOLMES: And epidemiologists fear the number of confirmed cases could skyrocket. We'll be live from Tokyo in just ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[01:30:48]

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: And welcome back everyone to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Michael Holmes.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Natalie Allen.

Here's a check of our headlines this hour.

The coronavirus has now infected more than 108,000 people worldwide and killed at least 3,800. Nearly a quarter of all cases are now outside of mainland China. South Korea and Iran are still struggling with major outbreaks. Italy has more than 7,300 cases now. It is putting nearly than 16million people essentially on lockdown as it struggles to contain the outbreak. That's roughly a quarter of the population. All of Lombardi and 14 provinces are affected.

ALLEN: The Grand Princess Cruise ship will dock briefly though in Oakland, California Monday. There are at least 21 people with the virus on board. Passengers needing medical care will be taken off first, the remaining U.S.-based passengers will be sent to quarantine stations for 14 days.

HOLMES: Now, the Japanese government has announced coronavirus testing will be covered by its national insurance program in hopes of increasing testing. The government has come under criticism for its low screening numbers compared to neighboring countries.

CNN's Blake Essig is in Tokyo. He joins us now live with more. Tell us about the criticism and, you know, what the government is going to do about it?

BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes Michael -- lots of criticism. I actually recently spoke to a researcher who's conducting contact tracing for the Japanese government. He told me that he believes that it's younger people in their twenties and thirties that are the carriers of the novel coronavirus and are really likely responsible for these clusters of cases popping up across Japan.

He did say that these people are typically asymptomatic which makes them very difficult to track.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ESSIG: His search has led him here.

HIROSHI NISHIURA, EPIDEMIOLOGIST, HOKKAIDO UNIVERSITY: This is a disease that the people should recognize as serious.

ESSIG: Two of Japan's mega cities --

NISHIURA: We continue to observe mega clusters.

ESSIG: -- Tokyo and Osaka, where researcher Hiroshi Nishiura says an unnoticed large-scale epidemic is already playing out.

Do you think that the World Health Organization will declare this a pandemic eventually?

NISHIURA: Yes, I think so. It's a matter of time.

ESSIG: Nishiura is on a mission for Japan's government, chasing clusters of novel coronavirus. A hunt that started in the snow-covered mountains of northern Japan.

In early February, two million people from around the world came together to celebrate snow and ice. At least one of those visitors brought with them the virus.

NISHIURA: In the end, the snow festival facilitated the spatial (ph) spread.

ESSIG: In the weeks since, more than 100 people have tested positive in the prefecture -- a number which Nishiura says is only a fraction of those actually infected.

NISHIURA: There -- we haven't seen that there must be at least approximately 1,000 cases that have existed in Hokkaido but not report it.

ESSIG: And for those like Yushia (ph) a nurse and mother of 2, now living under a state of emergency, the concern is real.

Do you think that the government is doing enough to test people?

"I don't think it's enough," she tells me, "I work at a hospital and there are only a few people are getting tested. I wish more testing was done."

What is the mood there?

"We haven't seen masks and hand sanitizers on supermarket shelves since mid February. We are lacking masks and hand sanitizers at hospitals too.

Sapporo City official Yasu Kiawara (ph) told us over the phone that prevention measures weren't taken before, during, or after the festival. But he admits that there was never a conversation with the national around the event despite fears of a growing global epidemic.

KOICHI NAKANO, SOPHIA UNIVERSITY: There is a word for it, called "kotonakaraisuge (ph) and that's really literally means no problem- ism. If you are the first one to say there's something wrong, you may be blamed for being the messenger of the bad news.

ESSIG: Is that what we saw here with the coronavirus?

NAKANO: I think so.

[01:34:58]

ESSIG: Political scientist Koichi Nakano, says the culture of no problem-ism continues to derail any potential for coordinated government response.

NAKANO: Where is the government going? It seems to be still afraid to do anything drastic, that is going to basically mean the end of Japan's hope for hosting the Olympics.

ESSIG: Several weeks into the outbreak an emergency bill is still being debated. And for now, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe doesn'thave the legal power to offer more than suggestions. As his government stalls, its own researchers continue their warnings.

NISHIURA: Even that we can contain it temporarily, the epidemic, the problem continues. And therefore, it is unavoidable that the emergence of cases continues by this summer.

ESSIG: And a country that pitched itself as a safe bet to hold the Olympics is realizing that the games are becoming anything but.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ESSIG: And Professor Nishiura actually went on to tell me that he believes that this novel coronavirus epidemic could last more than a year. And the reason for that is because he expects a lot of these clusters to continue to reemerge, similar to what we've seen in Hokkaido. But again, all over the world and part of this, again, is the fact that we cannot control this virus as it is right now -- Michael.

HOLMES: Yes. I'm wondering, you know, so where is the government -- the Japanese government in the process of declaring a state of emergency? And what would it allow for? ESSIG: Yes, Michael -- it has been a work in progress. They have been

working on the legal framework within the legislature for at least more than a week now. And they are hoping to have a bill passed through the legislature and then be enforced by the end of the week.

And if it is enforced, what it would essentially do is allow local municipalities to ask their residents to stay indoors. It would also allow them to close schools, public facilities, and build medical facilities to deal with a surge in patients if needed.

HOLMES: Blake Essig in Tokyo -- thank you.

ALLEN: And next here on CNN NEWSROOM, refugees kicked out of Greece with no clothes and no ID.

HOLMES: You know, the migrant crisis on the Turkish-Greek border takes a brutal turn. We'll have more on that when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOLMES: Welcome back.

The Turkish Coast Guard announced this weekend that it is actively stopping migrants attempting to cross the Aegean Sea, citing the dangers of the journey.

[01:39:56]

ALLEN: This, of course, comes as tensions remain high on the country's borders with Greece after Turkey opened the crossings to those trying to get to Europe. Last week, E.U. officials praised the Greek government and pledged nearly $800 million in aid to help Greece keep the border secure.

HOLMES: The Greek forces are once again accused of brutal tactics and pushing back refugees and migrants to Turkey.

CNN's Jomana Karadsheh reports from the Turkish Greek border.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They were desperate for Europe, but Europe didn't want them. Sent back to Turkey, stripped of their clothes, ID documents, and their dignity.

These men from Pakistan, Morocco, and Syria say they were violently pushed back by Greek security forces.

We can't verify the conditions in which this video from Turkish state broadcaster TRT was filmed but human rights groups have documented dozens of similar testimonies from refugees in recent years.

Thousands have made it across this river to Greece, many of them have come back with shocking accounts of what they have been through.

20-year-old Abdelaziz (ph) has been walking for hours, barefoot. We found him and his friends on the road in the Turkish border city of Eden (ph). They say Greek security forces caught them shortly after they crossed into Greece illegally.

"It was the military or police," he tells us, "they were carrying weapons. They took all our clothes, we were left in our underwear. They took our phones, our money, and documents. They burned the IDs and clothes," he tells us. He claims they were beaten up, lined up on the ground, and kicked with combat boots.

Greek authorities have repeatedly denied using these brutal push back methods or excessive force. The government says Greece has the right to defend its borders from illegal crossings. It is also doing so on behalf of Europe.

During our time at the border, we heard many similar stories.

Everybody from Afghanistan?

We met this group of Afghan refugees -- exhausted, yet determined. Hamid carried his baby boy through the river and fields. After walking for 5 hours he says, they were caught by Greek security.

HAMID: They beat us with some like -- it was a stick. And then they give water (ph).

KARADSHEH: Did they beat you up?

HAMID: Yes. My wife. They beat --

KARADSHEH: So they hit you and they hit your wife?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes -- everything.

KARADSHEH: Hamid says people don't choose to become refugees.

HAMID: We want to -- my children become big and have a good life.

KARADSHEH: In their pursuit of that good life, thousands have found themselves pawns on a political chessboard between Turkey and the E.U.

HAMZA: The Turkish army says go to Greece, I tried one time but the Greek army says go back, go back Istanbul. Take our money, mobiles. We come here only with only underwear. What is this? We are all like a ball, and both countries are like a bat. They're playing games with us.

KARADSHEH: No one here knows how this game will end, but they say nothing will stop them from trying to make it to Europe.

Jomana Karadsheh, CNN -- on the Turkish-Greek border.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: Terrible situation.

ALLEN: It's just heartbreaking. HOLMES: Heartbreaking. That's our time. Thanks for watching CNN NEWSROOM.

I'm Michael Holmes

ALLEN: I'm Natalie Allen.

"WORLD SPORT" is next. We'll see you around.

[01:43:46]

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