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Hala Gorani Tonight

Ahmaud Arbery's Family, Supporters Speak After Guilty Verdicts; At Least 31 Dead After Migrant Boat Capsizes In English Channel. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired November 24, 2021 - 14:30   ET




MARCUS ARBERY, AHMAUD ARBERY'S FATHER: Not just black children. We don't want to see nobody going through this.


ARBERY: I don't want to see no dad watch their kids get shot down like that. So it's all our problem. It's all our problem. So hey, let's keep



ARBERY: Let's keep doing and making this place a better place for all human beings.


ARBERY: All human beings.


ARBERY: Everybody.


ARBERY: Love everybody.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Love everybody.

ARBERY: All human beings need to be treated equally.


ARBERY: We've conquered this lynching. Today is a good day.




REV. AL SHARPTON, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: Before the lawyers come back, let me also say, as I said to all of the activists, the family thanks them. We

thank a lot of those that were local.


SHARPTON: Reverend Baker.


SHARPTON: Who stood up even when other clergy wouldn't stand up.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's right. Come on.

SHARPTON: This pastor stood with the family.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, he has. Yes.

SHARPTON: The others.


SHARPTON: We want to thank Barbara Arnwein.


SHARPTON: And been here from the beginning. All of the ministers that came last Thursday. We want to thank Cliff, who has been a rock. And I want to

thank, if he is watching, Reverend Jesse Jackson.


SHARPTON: Who despite his illness came down and sat in that courtroom. All of us, this is a day white and black activists showed we could unite.


SHARPTON: And beat the lynch mob that killed Ahmaud.


SHARPTON: And though I never say this often, I must say we want to thank the prosecutors.


SHARPTON: They stood and fought for this family. Tomorrow, in all of our joy today, there will be an empty chair at Wanda's table.



SHARPTON: Ahmaud will not be at Thanksgiving tomorrow.


SHARPTON: But she can look at that chair and say to Ahmaud, I fought a good fight.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's right. That's right.

SHARPTON: And I got you some justice.


SHARPTON: We can't fill that chair for you, Wanda, but we can say that you are a mother above all mothers. You fought for your son. And Marcus, you

fought for your son. And even though it will be a somber, a sober and solemn Thanksgiving, you can thank God you didn't let your boy down.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, thank you, thank you.

LEE MERRITT, ATTORNEY FOR AHMAUD ARBERY'S MOTHER: So Ben and I had a difficult task to do when showing up to this courthouse and turning the

case over to the prosecutors. We want, as attorneys, as advocates, we want to exercise control over something this important.


MERRITT: And it was difficult to relinquish that control to the Cobb County prosecutor's office. Of course, we had to under the law, and they did what

they had to do to secure a conviction. I applaud them for putting on an airtight case that resulted in conviction for all of these men.


MERRITT: They've invited Wanda and Marcus, and their supporters to stand with them for their press conference, and so we're going to do something

else that's difficult to do. We're not taking any questions. We're going to step back. We're going to allow the prosecutors to make a presentation

about their case as we stand with them in solidarity and thank them for their efforts.


BEN CRUMP, CIVIL RIGHTS LAWYER: And it's a good example for when Lee Merritt is Texas attorney --

HALA GORANI, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Hello, everyone. Live from CNN London, I'm Hala Gorani. You've been watching of course the verdict in the Ahmaud

Arbery trial in the United States with all three men found guilty of murdering the black jogger in February of 2020. But we want to bring you

other significant breaking news this hour.

France's Interior minister says at least 31 people have died in the English Channel after a boat carrying migrants capsized in the frigid water right

off of the coast of France. Five women and a little girl are among the dead, we understand. The minister says two people were saved and one person

is still missing. There is a search and rescue operation still ongoing.

Now these migrants, there are a few thousand every year who attempt the crossing. Some are stopped. Others make it all the way through. Some sadly,

as was the case today, perish in those waters. The boat was living Calais headed to the United Kingdom. And according to local maritime authority

this is by far the worst migrant tragedy ever recorded in the English Channel.

And I want to show you some video we have from Calais, France from earlier today. This shows a group of migrants leaving at dawn, very early in the

morning. They told Reuters filming there on that stretch of beach near Calais, they are going to the U.K. What's important here to underline is we

don't know that this is the same group of migrants that are now reported dead.


But we know this group we see here reportedly included more than 40 people and among them children. You see them waving there as they attempt this

treacherous crossing on a really just tiny dingy. You don't call this a boat. You would call this a dingy. Reuters is reporting that French police

did at one point try to stop the migrants from entering the sea.

Our team of reporters is covering this. Cyril Vanier is in Paris. Nic Robertson is here in London.

So, Cyril, talk to us. The French Interior minister went to Calais and briefed us. What more do we know about the circumstances surrounding this


CYRIL VANIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Look, absolutely, Hala. He gave us some more information. So it was an inflatable boat with dozens of migrants on

it, 34 migrants to be precise, 31 have been -- 31 died and their bodies were recovered at sea. Two are still alive, but they're fighting for their

lives as we speak. They're in severe hypothermia.

You know, it's two, three degrees temperature. Air temperature up there around the Calais/Dunkirk area, so the waters would be freezing

temperatures right now. So two migrants fighting for their lives, one still missing. That's for the numbers, as you said, the worst such disaster in

terms of the human cost of this. Just to give a scale to this, this is three, four times more deadly than previous such disasters.

The Interior minister mentioning one such incident in October of last year where seven people were found dead. The Interior minister, Hala, was

explaining that often these boats are bought in neighboring countries, sometimes in Germany, using cash so that they're not traceable. He pinned,

of course, the blame on smuggling networks, and he says they charge migrants a few thousand euros to put them on these very unsafe, extremely

risky inflatable boats.

He also said, the Interior minister at this stage defending France's action, of course, that France is putting a lot of resources into saving

and policing the coastline, and saving migrants at sea. 7,800 migrants have been rescued at sea since the beginning of the year, Hala. That is

according to the French Interior minister.

GORANI: All right. And the U.K. prime minister, Boris Johnson, had this to say about the tragedy. Listen.


BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I'm shocked and appalled and deeply saddened by the loss of life at sea in the channel. I think that the

details are still coming in, but more than 20 people have lost their lives, as you know. And my thoughts and sympathies are, first of all, with the

victims and their families. And it's an appalling thing that they have suffered.


GORANI: So the U.K. prime minister will be chairing an emergency crisis meeting called a cobra meeting in London.

Nic, talk to us a little bit about this channel crossing. Thousands attempt it every year.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: They do. The numbers this year three times what they were last year. There's really been a surge

in recent years as other routes for migrants to come into the U.K., they're smuggling themselves in trucks, getting on ships, taking the channel

tunnel. All of those have really been effectively shut down.

This year 25,700 migrants have crossed into the U.K. The numbers over recent weeks have been quite staggering. Just two weeks ago 1,000 migrants

crossed in one day, and this really gives you the sense that Boris Johnson went on to talk about the need to sort of break the business model of the


What the British government has been facing is this sort of tide of migrants coming across the sea that they've been unable to stop despite

cooperation with France, despite, as the prime minister said, giving more than $70 million to France to help aid this as well. So there is this

cross-channel tension with the high number of migrants, and not clear why it's picked up in the last few weeks other than possibly there are a lot of

migrants waiting to cross.

But it is such a pressure point, I would just add on the British government just five days ago, the prime minister put a senior government minister in

charge of trying to get all government departments together to figure out a solution for this migrant problem.

GORANI: So I remember covering the migrant crisis when the so-called jungle was teaming with migrants from Afghanistan, from Iraq, and their preferred

way of trying to cross over was to either try to hitch a ride with a truck or to somehow make it across the tunnel.


But they have sealed that so well that we're hearing from migrant groups that now some of these desperate refugees believe this is their only way

into the U.K., which explains why so many more people are using boats and piling themselves into these dinghies.

And I wonder, Cyril Vanier, we heard from the Interior minister. We heard from the French president as well. I mean when you have a death toll as

shocking as this one, something has to be done. We're talking here 31 at least dead people including children.

VANIER: Absolutely, Hala. I think the sheer scale of the human tragedy here is something that could potentially be a game changer. And certainly the

French president has already been calling for an emergency meeting of European ministers involved in migration and these issues. He also wants

closer cooperation between the countries that are involved. The French here are very keen to point out that it is not just them who are involved in

this, because the migrants often go through, whether it is the Netherlands, Belgium, some of the boats are bought in Germany.

And of course, they are aiming to get to the U.K. as well. So the French are now calling for a multi-country effort to, if not put an end to this,

at least certainly limit the flows of illegal migration. As I said, calling for this meeting, but what is the track record of European countries at

dealing with flows of migration, Hala? It's poor. We have to be honest.


VANIER: It is poor. And in the recent past, in the last few years when Europe has been faced with problems like this on a much larger scale, they

have not been very good at, A, stopping the flows of migration and then, B, actually finding a solution for the migrants who are on European soil,


GORANI: Right. It's also the words used to describe the issue. Crisis is used a lot. We're talking here about less than 10,000 people a year. So

it's also how it's framed, and this is something we'll be able to discuss with a guest after the break, who is the head of advocacy for the Refugee


Thanks very much to both of you. We'll get back to you shortly, Nic and Cyril.

But just to reiterate our breaking news, at least 31 people dead in a boat disaster off of the French coast. These were migrants trying to make their

way to the United Kingdom. According to French Maritime Authorities who assisted in the search and rescue operation, this is the worst ever

drowning in the English Channel.

We'll have a lot more after a quick break. Stay with us. You're watching CNN Breaking News.



GORANI: More on our breaking news. 31 people dead in a capsized boat disaster off the French coast. 31 migrants trying to reach the United

Kingdom. We understand according to French authorities that 33 people were piled on to this dingy and that two of them survived, 31 were killed

including at least one child.

I'm joined now by Andy Hewett, he's the head of advocacy for the Refugee Council.

Thanks for joining us. Why are refugees so desperate to make it to the United Kingdom? What is it that they are -- why not stay in France? I hear

this question a lot. Can you answer it for our viewers?

ANDY HEWETT, HEAD OF ADVOCACY, REFUGEE COUNCIL: Sure. Thanks for having me. Well, I think the first thing to say is the vast majority of people fleeing

persecution who enter Europe do claim asylum in the first or second European countries that they enter. So, for example, if you look at the

data countries like Germany, France, Italy and Greece have far more numbers of people claiming asylum than the U.K. does. But for a small group of

people, a small minority of people, they will have or feel that they have compelling reasons to come to the U.K. They are normally reasons because

they have family connections, family members in the U.K. They might have English as their second language. They might have other cultural

connections to the U.K. So those are the factors that sort of drive their decision-making.

GORANI: Also, I've heard that it's difficult -- I've heard that it's difficult to claim asylum unless you're inside the country. Is that


HEWETT: Yes, that's true of all countries. You physically have to set foot in the U.K. to register your claim for asylum. One of the things we've been

calling for is the government to -- the U.K. government to introduce what we term humanitarian visas that would allow somebody who is fearing

persecution to apply for a visa to travel to the U.K. from elsewhere in the world for the purposes of claiming asylum and, therefore, negating, you

know, the need to make a dangerous journey, whether that be a dangerous journey across the Mediterranean or across the channel.

GORANI: And what kind of response have you gotten to that idea?

HEWETT: Well, so far the U.K. government has failed to engage in that suggestion. What's really clear is everything that they've done to date has

failed to stem the flow of people arriving in the U.K. And one of the reasons that people are sort of, I guess, forced into the hands of people

smugglers is because there is an absolute lack of a safe alternative route for them, and humanitarian visas would be one element for people with a

family connection in the U.K.

They could, you know, if the family reunion rules were expanded, that would allow them to make an application to come to the U.K. for the purposes of

uniting with their family. So that's another thing that the U.K. government should and could be doing to respond to this.

GORANI: And these people smugglers are some of the most ruthless criminals. I mean we will remember the Vietnamese migrants who died, suffocated in the

back of a lorry a couple of years ago, or a year and a half ago now. They don't really care if you make it. They just want your money. Who are these

organized gangs who are just using people as products, as pawns like this?

HEWETT: Well, absolutely. I mean I can't comment on who they are, but, you know, what we do know is if the U.K. government are really serious in terms

of wanting to break the business model of the smugglers, then the best way to do that and the most obvious way to do that would be to offer a safe,

legal alternative so that somebody who wants to come to the U.K., rather than engaging a people smuggler being their only option, they would have

another safe alternative, you know, that is sanctioned by the government, that is managed by the government, an application process that the

government would entirely (INAUDIBLE) manage. And that would be the best way to address this problem.

GORANI: So we're getting reaction from the French President Macron just minutes ago. He said, "We're all moved by this tragedy which strikes at the

heart of each of us and at our values. To the families of the victims, to their loved ones, I want to express my compassion and the unconditional

support of France. I assure them that everything will be done to find and condemn those responsible. Networks of smugglers who exploit misery and

distress, endanger human lives and ultimately decimate families."

What on the French side do you think should be done? You talk about how the U.K. should expand humanitarian visas. But, you know, even if that does

happen this is a long-term project. Politically it doesn't sound very popular. But right now as it stands it is a really, really tragic problem

where people are literally dying. What can be done in the immediate future do you think?


HEWETT: Well, I think, you know, similar to our suggestions to the U.K. government is that, you know, every country across Europe needs to look at

the reasons why people flee their country in the first place, the reasons why they feel compelled to travel to a particular country and put in place

a safe, regular route for those people to take rather than their only option being availing themselves into the hands of people smugglers.

I mean we are devastated at the news today. It's absolutely tragic, but it's not -- you know, it's not entirely surprising. It was entirely

predictable that with the number of people crossing the channel at this time of year you would eventually see a tragedy like this unfold.

GORANI: Yes. Yes. I'm afraid to say, I agree with you. When you see these dinghies set out, you think to yourself, you know, inevitably this is going

to happen, and it happened today with a headline number that is absolutely jaw-dropping and shocking. It is so tragic.

Thank you, Andy Hewett, the head of advocacy at the Refugee Council for joining us on this day.

We'll be right back. We'll have more coverage after a quick break. Stay with us.


GORANI: And updating you now on our breaking news. 31 migrants trying to reach the U.K. are dead today after their boat capsized off of France. We

have reporters on both sides of the English Channel. Cyril Vanier is in Paris. Nic Robertson is in London.

What more are we learning? I'm seeing reports that there are still rescue operations going on. Is there hope of finding anyone alive still?

VANIER: Hala, no, I believe there is no longer hope of finding anyone alive. Someone is missing, but the Interior minister did really not leave

open any kind of window of hope. It just means that they haven't found the body at this stage. He did, however, say, and I recognize that this sounds

somewhat contradictory. He did somewhat say that the rescue operations would continue for a couple more hours and tomorrow morning, but then in

the same breath said he wasn't expecting to find anyone else.

So that's the information we have from the French Interior minister, Hala. And I've got something else for you. He also added that four smugglers were

arrested today who were potentially, potentially I say, in connection or tied to this particular tragedy. Now many more smugglers were actually

arrested today. This number, Hala, I think is going to surprise you.

According to the French Interior minister -- let me make sure I get the number right - 671 people, migrants were prevented from crossing, from

making this crossing and attempting to reach the U.K. 255 actually managed to cross and several hundred people were arrested who were potentially -- I

beg your pardon. Let me just stay with those numbers. Those are the reportable numbers we have right now. 671 people who were intercepted

before they could actually attempt the crossing and four smugglers were arrested who may be tied to this particular tragedy, Hala.

GORANI: All right, Cyril. Just want -- we don't have it translated so I'm going to bring our viewers the Interior minister's statement on the



I'll read it, translate it. He said it is an appalling situation for France, for Europe and for humanity to see these people perish at sea

because of people smugglers. So all the politicians are pointing fingers at people smugglers, Nic Robertson, and not at themselves.

ROBINSON: Yes, Boris Johnson is. But I think there's been subtext in what we heard from Boris Johnson saying that he hopes that Britain's offers to

send essentially personnel to help the French on the beaches and the places where the smugglers operate, he said that he hoped that that would perhaps

be accepted in the future. So you got that sense of frustration there. And I think looking across our notes at what we've heard from the Interior

minister as well, there's a sense from the French side that the contribution that they're making in the effort to stop smugglers is not

matched by the United Kingdom.

That the U.K.'s effort is minimal compared to France's. The scale and scope of this difficulty is huge, notwithstanding what your previous guest said.

The figures that we have at the moment from the UNHCR speak of 100,000 people that have crossed, migrants that have crossed into Europe this year.

100,000 this year. And we know that more than 25,000 have come to the U.K. A quarter of those migrants coming to Europe have tried to make it to the

U.K. and have made it to the U.K.

These numbers are very significant, and that's the scale of the problem and that's why the politics is so difficult around it.

GORANI: Well, they're pointing fingers at people smugglers, but also at the other side. The French Interior minister is now accusing the U.K. of not

doing enough. He says the resources that the U.K. is giving France remain minimal compared to the resources that we, France, are obviously putting in

place to put in more officers and more cameras, et cetera, et cetera.

So this is turning, once again, into a bit of a dispute between France and the U.K. on a day that 31 migrants lost their lives so tragically.

We are going to wrap it up for this hour. Cyril and Nic will stay on next hour on "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS."

I'm Hala Gorani. We're going to take a quick break. And as I said, more of our breaking news with the tragic loss of life in the English Channel, the

worst ever recorded. More on that after break. Stay with us.