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Crisis in the Caribbean. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired September 12, 2107 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Tonight, the Caribbean in crisis. The island's struggle to cope and the aftermath of Hurricane Irma and on
the eve of an urgent U.N. meeting we bring you a visceral report from one of the refugee camps in Bangladesh.
Good evening everyone and welcome to the program. I'm Nima ELBAGIR: in for Christiane ELBAGIR. Homes destroyed, lives in ruin but worse could still be
to come for people in the Caribbean unless more is done to help them after the devastating impact of hurricane Irma. We will take you to the Virgin
Islands where we will be speaking to prim- oh sorry excuse me, actually what we need to tell you about is UNICEF and their response to this.
It has been unequivocal; the international community they say must step up to the plate. Warning that the U.S., the U.K, the Netherlands, and France
which control territories in the region can't be relied on to respond to the disaster alone.
It says deliveries of water, food and shelter are desperately needed and more action taken to stop the spread of disease and to protect vulnerable
women and children.
Today, France's president and Britain's foreign minister visited the Caribbean themselves to survey the damage following the Dutch king's
arrival on Monday. France says it's carrying out the biggest Air Lift Operation to the main lands since the Second World War
The British Virgin Islands were particularly hard hit. Orlando Smith is the Premiere of that U.K. territory and he now does join me on the phone as his
government grapples with the devastated infrastructure. Mr., Smith, thank you so much for joining us.
ORLANDO SMITH, PREMIERE, BVI: I thank you.
ELBAGIR: I'd like to start buy asking you, what, I mean we keep hearing these descriptions of just utter devastation. What's it look like where you
SMITH: Thank you. As you know we've been hit by the worse hurricane ever in the Caribbean history. Hurricane Irma. As suggested that category 5
hurricane, about 70 percent of our houses will be extremely damaged or destroyed. Because of that that, we've also had loss of communication for
the past several days.
ELBAGIR: So you're battling against falling down infrastructure. The inability to actually even assess because of the communications network
being down to actually even credibly access what those needs are and yet we understand from the U.N. that the international community's response has
been severely lacking so, we want to hear from you Mr. Smith. What is it you need, in the bluntest of terms, what do you want to see from the world
right now for you islands?
SMITH: OK, fine, the community has been responded to ministry to on some of the islands the community that organize some (shelters), (inaudible) to
restore communication, clear the roads, et cetera, and there's been quite a significant amount of assistance coming in terms aide, in terms water and
food, and shelter. But we will continue to need more attention in terms of aide. We also still continue to need more suspension in terms of cash for
the long term, more long term for the rebuilding efforts.
We are now at the point where, the foreign community will begin to open again; the station will be back online today. And so our communications
will begin. I will be able to let the people of the territory know where we are and what the government is doing to secure their cows and stock
ELBAGIR: As we understand it, sir, it's a devastation that has never before been seen in the islands in terms of that, in terms of the impact of
the hurricane and I know we all wish you well as you attempt to respond to that, thank you so much for joining us.
SMITH: Thank you.
ELBAGIR: Now while the immediate needs of hurricane survivors; food, water, shelter and security, they can seem overwhelming. But crucial action
taken right now will determine their quality of life for years to come. If the global community though fails to step up could those hit hardest by
Irma face a longer term crisis? Jeffrey Sachs is one of the world's leading development economics; he joins me now from New York. Mr. Sachs thank you
for joining us. I want to just-I want you to listen to an interview we did a little earlier with the UNICEF representative for the Eastern Caribbean.
When she describes-I suppose the only way to put it is the lack of an effective international response. Take a listen to this sir.
KHIN-SANDI LWIN, UNICEF REPRESENTATIVE, EASTERN CARIBBEAN: While we've sent out an appeal for 2.37 million. $2,370,000 US dollars for now we have
not had any responses.
ELBAGIR: So they are essentially using their program funding. They have had no emergency funding coming in at all and you have spoken about this in
the past (but just to textualize) for us now it has been almost a week. So we are losing that initial response window. How crucial is it to get in
within that initial response window?
JEFFERY SACHS, ECONOMIST, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: First, let me say that it's shocking because the UNICEF representative is talking about millions where
the United States is about to vote more than 10 billion dollars of response for Houston and in the end the US Congress will provide more than a 100
billion, perhaps 200 billion dollars, for Houston and Florida. What is going to happen in the Caribbean? Remember these are US territories.
British oversees territories, French, Dutch, it's unbelievable if there can't be an immediate response to call for such a small amount of money.
And let me add another point which is we saw the British Virgin Islands for example. This is the play ground, if I might say so of some of the richest
people in the world, the hedge fund industry and so forth.
Where are they in stepping up right now? This is the basics, and there's one more point, (inaudible) that I would add that even at the start. The
Caribbean is vulnerable to the rising devastation that is coming from global warming and weather it is denied or not the science is not denying
it, The science is making clear the growing dangers that has been caused by the rich countries it's being visited upon the poor countries; this is a
matter not of aid but of basic compensation for damage done. So we have to start getting serious about all of this because we're going to have a real
tragedy here and we are going to see more and more of these and the rich countries have to stop their irresponsibility.
ELBAGIR: Well, to that point this is really the first global natural disaster in that, post make America great, post climate change, we think
it's a thing, we don't really want to commit to it being a thing world. So not only are we seeing an America is having to deal with a catastrophe, a
disaster at home, but we are also seeing an America that is increasingly saying we are going to make sure that we prioritize ourselves first and
foremost. What impact do you think that is going to have in terms of America's contribution to the post Irma reconstruction that is so sorely
SACHS: America has to step up right now. Failure to do so would be a disgrace and a violation of basic international principles. This is not
charity. This is responsibility. Mr. Trump, it was claimed, actually knows about climate change. So if he denies the aid it's kind of a vicious
action. So this is not something one can walk away from. America being great means America being moral and responsible, that is what it means.
And America has not been responsible on the case of climate change and it has not been responsible on helping countries to rebuild from damagage that
have been increased by America's own action. It is a basic matter of justice we are talking about.
ELBAGIR: This is of course the first real kind of large scale hurricane that we have seen since the hurricane that hit Haiti last year. And in
theory we were supposed to have learned lessons from that. What would you like to see be done differently now?
JEFFERY SACHS, ECONOMIST, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: Well, first of all lessons learned are not the same thing as lessons applied. Because to apply lessons
requires financing. For example, infrastructure to make buildings more resistant and resilient as well as barriers for flooding as well as the
fact that let's face it we will never get ahead of nature unless we stop the damage that we are doing to nature by raising global temperatures. So
Mr. Trump needs to come back and say "I have thought it over again we are going to stay in the Paris agreement because we face one of the greatest
urgencies on our planet and the United States can not absent itself from an agreement that 192 other countries have reached. So the real response when
Mr. Trump shows up at the United Nations next week is to say the United States is staying in Paris and it's going to fulfill it's obligations as
the richest country in the world. Not to turn it's back on the poorest people and the damage that the U.S. itself has caused.
ELBAGIR: One last quick question; what would you say to those who would say that this conversation that we're having right now about the brutal
realities of climate change, that that is politicizing a natural disaster. What would you response to them be?
SACHS: I would say to Mr. Pruitt the head the EPA, "you're a disgrace, and leave, because your job is to protect the environment and you are doing the
opposite. You've been unleashing human damage on the environment by being basically the fact totem of the oil industry. We know it, we know your
record, you're a disgrace, go home."
ELBAGIR: Mr. Sachs, I'm so sorry, that is all the time that we have, but I'm sure that we will return again and again to this conversation. It's a
pleasure having you on the show. Thank you so much.
SACHS: Thank you, good to be with you, I appreciate it.
ELBAGIR: Now, up next, we follow hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims fleeing (Mahatma) and desperately trying to find refuge. That's after this.
ELBAGIR: Welcome back to the program. The number of Rohingya feeling from (Mahatma) to Bangladesh has now topped 370,000. That's according to the
U.N. which has denounced the governments crack down against the Muslim minority group as text book example of ethnic cleansing.
This latest deadly wave of violence erupted two weeks ago after Rohingya militants attacked police posts. Prancing the military to retaliate with
what it called clearance operations. (Inaudible) defacto leader and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi who made her name as a (tilist)
campaign over human rights has come under fire for her response to the crisis.
CNN's Alexandra Fields has more on the growing humanitarian crisis enabling Bangladesh.
ALEXANDRA FIELDS, CNN HOST: The children are hungry and showing signs of mal nutrition their mothers are heartbroken. "My newborn hasn't had
anything to eat as I'm unable to breastfeed. She's suffering from mal nutrition and we haven't received any medical support or treatment so we're
in a really dangerous situation". (Athena)'s baby was 12 days old when the family left everything behind fleeing a violent military crack down in
Myanmar. An eight day journey brought them here to Bangladesh where they have practically nothing.
"We have been living outside of a camp for five days. We have been waiting. No one has given us any shelter or support; we are living in a very
Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims have raced across the boarder into Bangladesh in two weeks; they have been met with aide groups under
prepared to help them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hundreds of thousands of Rohigan Muslims have raced across the border into (Bangladesh) in two weeks. They have met with aid
groups under prepared to help them.
(LU CHAUMN), UNICEF EMERGENCY CHIEF IN SOUTH ASIA: So ordinary agencies are struggling with the increase number of refugees coming every day and
therefore we need to scale up operations massively across all sectors in health, in nutrition, one on sanitation, and (mutation), child protection.
ALEXANDRA FIELDS, CNN: Refugees (inaudible) camps are all ready full.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We have only just arrived here and military came into our village. They were slaughtering us and setting fire
to our houses so, we had to leave.
ALEXANDRA FIELDS, CNN: Myanmar says it is engaging quote clearance operations, following an attack by Rohygan militants that left 12 security
UNIDNETIFIED MALE (through translator): It has taken seven days to get here and we crossed the boarder by boat. If the military had seen us, they
would have shot us.
ALEXANDRA FIELDS, CNN: A week ago this was a forest the Rohingya cleared it. The muddy banks are now a settlement for a 100 thousand of them. Even
newer arrivals are living on the road side.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): It is very uncomfortable here. I can not describe how horrible it is but there is no where else so, we have
to stay here.
ALEXANDRA FIELDS, CNN: A local farmer tells us he's taken in eight Rohiygan families who have no where to go and to way to live, including
this man (Siet amean).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We need support from International Organizations and from the world. There are two many of us for the
Bangladeshi's alone to be helping us.
ALEXANDRA FIELDS, CNN: His family has shelter, some food and water now. The rest are waiting. Alexandra Fields, CNN.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ELBAGIR: Tom Malinowski served as U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor under President Obama whose
Administration lifted sanctions against Myanmar after Aung San Suu Kyi's (peace) he won a landslide victory in the 2015 election. He joins me now
from Washington, Mr. Malinowski thank you so much for joining us.
I want to read you a little (snipic) which I'm sure is one that is being read to you a lot at the moment. It's from Suu Kyi's book Freedom From
Fear, where she said, it's not power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power, corrupts those who willed it. Do you think that's what's
happening here? Do you think this is fear of losing power?
TOM MALINOWSKI, ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE FOR DEMOCRACY, HUMAN RIGHTS, AND LABOR: I think it is fear of losing power on the part of the Burmese
Military and that's something that I fear that (Aung San Suu Kyi) does not fully understand. I think the Burmese Military has an interest in stoking
this crisis in creating as much blood shed, and fear, and terror as possible so that Budast and Burma will turn to the military and not Aung
San Suu Kyi and government for protection.
And at the same time you have, now, a small insurgent group operating on the other side. That has exactly the same goal that is trying to provoke
the Burmese Military into attacking Muslim civilians so that Muslims in Burma turn to the insurgents for protection it's a perfect storm and I fear
that it's going to get much worse before it gets better.
ELBAGIR: The concern is of course initially it was - imitative concern was she's not speaking out. Then it was she's not condemning but now the
concern has grown because her spokesman and her office are - I mean these are frankly inflammatory statements that are coming out. She has alleged
the U.N. is participating that this is something they're investigating. That the U.N is participating along side Rohingya militants, she also has
said that she's concerned that the International Community is part of this.
In any other situation, in any other country if this had been over Boshier and Sudan over shadow I said in theory, this would have been a call to
violence, that's how it would have been perceived and yet we seem to hold Aung San Suu Kyi to a different standard.
You have met her several times, do you - are you surprised that she hasn't spoken out?
MALINOWSKI: I'm very sad about it, you know for decades she counted on us to dismiss the obvious lies that the Burmese military told about its
treatment of her and her Democracy movement and we dismissed those lies. And now she is asking us to embrace equally outrageous lies about the
conduct of the military against these innocent civilians.
And she is losing the threat, she's losing hold of the main thing that sustained her movement and that sustains Burma's Democratic transition and
that is her and the country's moral authority. And I find that very, very sad that the victims of course in the immediate sense are these civilians
who are fleeing but she will be the victim of it if she doesn't change.
Because this is a recipe for the military to take back control of Burma, this is a script that the military is writing and she is going along with
in a way that's going to hurt her eventually.
ELBAGIR: But the seeds of this of course were sown in even before 2015 when in the run up to the election, many people excused the fact that she
hadn't spoken out against the violence against (inaudible) because the worry was that she would lose the Buddhist nationalists and she would lose
the yoke of rule to the government.
Was that something that you were concerned about at the time when she didn't speak out then, while you were negotiating to lift (ph) sanctions.
MALINOWSKI: Well, at the time, and I have these conversations with her and I told her, look I understand that there's a political dilemma here for
you, but I think the smart political move is to get ahead of this problem and not to allow the military to define the -- this as a religious war
between Buddhists and Muslims because you are never going to be more racist than the haters in this country.
You are never going to -- to -- to win if that is what ordinary Buddhists in Burma are thinking about you. You've got to use your moral authority to
explain to people that race and religion were being used to divide the country and to distract the country from the process of democratization.
And she failed to do that at the critical time, and now there's this violence. And by the way, we also warned her that this would happen. We
warned her that at a certain point if hundreds of thousands of Muslim men are in desparate straits, living in camps, being driven across borders,
being forced to flee -- there were very nefarious forces in the Middle East that would see this and they would take advantage of it by fomenting
exactly the violence that we are now seeing.
And that Burma was not prepared to deal with that. Burma is not prepared to deal with terrorism. And this could get very, very much worse if there
isn't some new deal struck, that -- that -- that, A, normalizes the -- the -- the status of Bohendra (ph) Muslims in Burma and at the same time
commits countries in the Middle East to crack down on the people who are fomenting violent insurgency.
ELBAGIR: Your position .
MALINOWSKI: That's the only hope.
ELBAGIR: Your position is right, Chief, it has not yet been filled, we can hope. So there is no one to kind of steer the conversation between the
administration and Miamo (ph) in these kinds of instances. But what would your advice be if somebody had filled your recently vacated chair in the
Trump administration? What would you say -- what should the U.S. do now?
MALINOWSKI: Well, it's not just my chair that's vacant, it's almost every chair that's vacant in the State Department. And that is a tragedy for
Burma and many other places. But I think what needs to be done now is somebody needs to try to broker a kind of deal that I just suggested was
There's steps that Burma needs to take to begin the process of giving these people their citizen back, their status in their countries so that they --
they can feel secure and the Buddhists living in that part of Burma can also feel secure. At this point, I think there's a need for some sort of
To keep the sides apart and to -- and to report to the world if somebody's burning a village or driving civilians from their home, or attacking a
police station or a military post. And third, we -- we need countries like Saudi Arabia and Qatar and the UAE and Pakistan where some of these
insurgents are being financed and trained to crack down on this.
And all these things have to happen simultaneously. One cannot happen, I think, without the others. And that's where you need the United States or
the U.N. or some third party that is trusted by the Burmese government to broker a -- a -- a solution before things get much, much worse.
ELBAGIR: I'm sorry, Mr. Malinowski, we're going to have to leave it there. But as (ph) you (ph) at least said, it is incredibly, incredibly sad for it
to have come to this. Thank you so much for joining us.
MALINOWSKI: Thank you.
ELBAGIR: When we come back, a story right here in the U.K. where the world's largest arms (ph) fair is finding itself under fire. Campaigners
take aim, next.
ELBAGIR: And finally, tonight, imagine a world arming itself to the teeth. Right here in London, the world's largest arms fair opens today. 54
countries are in attendance and some 1,600 exhibitors are vying for their attention, and of course their money. But not everyone is buying it; more
than 100 protestors were arrested yesterday as they tried to block the fair.
And today, the charity Save the Children is repurposing the U.K.'s Made in Britain campaign to release a jarring reminder about where some of those
weapons will ultimately fall. Yemen (ph), one of the poorest countries in the world. While the U.K. sends millions in aid to Yemen, it sells
billions of dollars worth of arms to the Saudi-led coalition, who the U.N. say (ph) are responsible for the majority of child casualties in the
UNKNOWN: Understated, painted racing green. A micron-perfect casing milled in bright metal. Export of our island kingdom. Power wrapped in
burnished aluminum. Made in Britain. Dropped on children.
ELBAGIR: That's it for our program tonight. Thank you all for watching, and it's goodbye for London.