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CONNECT THE WORLD

Gadhafi Forces Look for Way Out; Yemeni President May Step Down

Aired April 4, 2011 - 16:00:00   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's dead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pull his gun.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Chaos and confusion in Libya, as rebels and government forces trade control of key cities.

Plus, new details from this woman, who says she was physically and psychologically abused by government forces.

And a fresh wave of violence in Yemen prompts the United States to shift its position on the president.

And living in limbo -- victims of Japan's tsunami struggle for a sense of normalcy in the disaster zone.

Live from CNN in London, this is CONNECT THE WORLD.

I'm Becky Anderson in London for you this hour.

Up first, the Libyan regime making new diplomatic overtures, testing the waters for a cease-fire tonight. But as the situation on the ground remains dire, some rebels ask whether it's possible to negotiate at gunpoint.

Well, a fierce battle is underway in Eastern Libya for El Brega, a strategic oil town that's changed hands six times in the last six weeks.

And in Misrata, in the west, one opposition member says a tragedy is unfolding. Some residents there lacking electricity, food and water, trapped on all sides by Gadhafi's forces.

But even if his forces keep pressing ahead with the war, Moammar Gadhafi himself is apparently looking for a way out. Sources suggest he's willing to give up power as long as it remains a family affair.

But as Nic Robertson reports, more on that, as the diplomatic overtures continue.

And first, an update on Iman al-Obeidi, the woman who's become a face of the anti-Gadhafi movement.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We know that she's in Tripoli and that appears to be part of her problem, as well. We've -- we now understand from recent conversations with her that she has been banned from leaving the country, that she was picked up at the Tunisian border when she was trying to exit last week, exit the country, taken back to Tripoli, interrogated again. She said that when she was initially taken away from this hotel, she faced 72 hours of questioning interrogation. She said the interrogators had breaks, she did not. She described it more as mental interrogation rather than physical, although she describes having water poured over her face, food thrown at her.

She says she's filed a complaint with the attorney general's office. The manager there let her file a complaint against a TV anchor who interviewed her and put her on state television, denigrating her.

But her biggest problem seems to be that she would like to get to her family in the east of the country. She is being told she's not even allowed to leave the city of Tripoli right now. She'd like to go Tunisia then Egypt, but she just can't.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

ANDERSON: Well, that's that part of the story.

Let's get back to the renewed fighting underway in and around El Brega.

For the story on the ground, senior international correspondent Ben Wedeman is tonight nearby in Ajdabiya -- Ben.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, what we saw is the continuation of the fighting, Becky, around Brega. It appears that gradually, slowly, ever so cautiously, the opposition forces are making progress. They seem to have gained control, more or less, of New Brega, which is sort of a suburb of Brega itself.

And we were with them as they reached almost the outskirts of Brega proper, when they came under an intense artillery barrage. Then at least - - at least in our case, we had to move three separate times after coming under fire from Gadhafi loyalists firing artillery and heavy machine guns.

However, by the afternoon, what we saw is that the opposition forces were steadily launching rockets back in the direction of Brega. It's believed that two weeks of the no-fly zone and the NATO air strikes have crippled the ability of the Gadhafi forces really to hold that town of Brega. They're not, probably, being resupplied. They may be running low on food and ammunition.

And certainly talking to opposition commanders, they do feel confident that within possibly the next 24 hours, they will be able to get into the town of Brega itself and possibly push those Gadhafi fighters out -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Ben, after we talk, we're going to do more on Gadhafi's diplomatic overtures to the rest of the world, ratcheting up these efforts to try and seal some sort of deal with the international community.

Before we do, what's the reaction on the ground to the sense that the concession from the regime is Gadhafi stands down, his sons continue to reign supreme, as it were?

How is that going down on the ground?

WEDEMAN: Not very well, Becky. Most people in this part of the country, including members of the transitional council in Benghazi, have made it clear, it's not just Moammar Gadhafi, it's his sons and the people around him. They want regime change. They don't want a change of just sort of the head at the top. They want to see the Gadhafi family completely out of power. Many of them want to see them put on trial for crimes against humanity.

So this possibility of some sort of deal whereby Saif Islam Gadhafi, one of the more, supposedly, liberal sons of the Libyan leader might have some provision or a temporary transitional role, is simply not being bought in this part of the country -- Becky.

ANDERSON: All right. Ben Wedeman on the ground for you with the all important story.

Let's move on and bring you back up to date on exactly what Gadhafi has been doing, as he sends a top envoy to Europe to try to round up support for his cease-fire terms.

Now, Libya's deputy foreign minister is now in Turkey, with his next stop expected Malta. That was after meetings in Greece over the weekend.

I spoke earlier with the Greek foreign minister, asking him for his thoughts on Gadhafi's shuttle diplomacy.

This is what he said.

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DIMITRIS DROUTSAS, GREEK FOREIGN MINISTER: We could clearly see that the regime in Libya has realized that it must move and so that the regime in Libya is in search of a political solution. This is why we say we have to -- to take advantage of this, as the international community, and try to make the best out of it. Of course, it does not mean that the international community forgets about what has been happening in Libya. On the contrary. But, again, we must seize every opportunity that we might see in order to find a diplomatic, political way out of this crisis. And, again -- again, this might have been a first important step.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: The voice there of the Greek foreign minister.

Well, of course, in the end, it's the opinion of the Libyan rebels and the opposition that matters most in securing a truce.

And to that end, I spoke a short time ago to an opposition leader here in London, Guma El-Gamaty, a regular guest on this show of late.

I asked whether anything he's heard in the past 24 to 48 hours would be acceptable to him and his colleagues.

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GUMA EL-GAMATY, LIBYAN OPPOSITION MEMBER, INTERIM NATIONAL COUNCIL: What we have heard about the message which Abdul-Ati al-Obeidi is bringing to Greece, Turkey and Malta is basically a recycled, rehashed message that has been sent with Saif Islam's envoy to London last week, Mohammed Ismail, you remember, when he came with an offer that Gadhafi will retire inside Libya, retire out of politics and then possibly a son or another one of his sons will take over and oversee some sort of reform transitional period that might lead to elections.

Now, it is the same thing that now Abdul Ata -- Abdul-Ati al-Obeidi is taking to softer countries, like Greece and Turkey and Malta, because Britain, and, presumably, the other European countries, totally rejected and wouldn't even engage with it.

ANDERSON: And the last time we spoke, you rejected outright, on behalf of the opposition, any -- any deal from the Gadhafis. You talk about soft countries now, which is interesting, because we do know that the former prime minister and now foreign minister is in Turkey with the same message, whilst we don't hear much of concessions from the Gadhafis.

Why do you call Turkey, for example, a soft country and what do you fear?

EL-GAMATY: Well, now, we think -- Gadhafi thinks these are soft countries who might actually be more sympathetic and give him more, you know, ear, you know, listen to him more. And maybe if they -- if they think this is worthwhile, they might try to, you know, push it to -- to the other side of Europe, the -- the headliners.

But I think Gadhafi is running out of friends very fast. I mean today, Italy, who has been a staunch ally of Gadhafi -- Berlusconi has been very close to Gadhafi -- has totally ditched him today, withdrew legitimacy totally and now recognized the Interim National Council.

So I think -- I think he's running out of options. And even Turkey and -- and Greece might not do much for him.

ANDERSON: Just how much pressure is the international community putting on the opposition to at least acknowledge, if not accept, concessions from the Gadhafis?

EL-GAMATY: I think no -- no international community or country has put any pressure on the Interim National Council to do any deal with Gadhafi and his sons. For -- that is for sure. That is -- that is unanimous, that everybody is in agreement on that. Gadhafi and his sons come as a package. They belong to the past. They have no future in Libya. They are part of the problem, not part of the solution. They have to go.

Beyond that, there might be room for -- for discussions. There might be room for discussions to -- I'm just speaking as a person -- to incorporate those who have -- might have been part of Gadhafi's system, but they don't have blood on their hands.

But Gadhafi and his sons, that's a no-no area, definitely. So they have killed too many Libyans. His sons are actually the official commanders of these battalions, of these secretary brigades who are -- we have been killing Libyans for the last five weeks.

How can we do deals with or accept people to stay in power who have been killing us for the last five -- five weeks?

It is beyond comprehension. It cannot be entertained by any Libyan.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

ANDERSON: Guma El-Gamaty, who had a seat at the top table at the Libyan Conference, of course, last week.

Well, as you've been hearing, Italy throwing its full support behind the rebels. Today it became the third country to recognize the Interim National Council as Libya's only legitimate authority.

Well, it's also playing a huge role in helping NATO enforce the arms embargo against Gadhafi's regime.

Diana Magnay visited the flagship vessel and that operation.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DIANA MAGNAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: NATO, right now, has a total of 16 ships and two submarines provided by nine countries enforcing the arms embargo. And they say they're hoping for more naval assets to be provided by other member states.

And in the last two weeks since this arms embargo has been in place, they've hailed 44 vessels off the coast of Libya, but found arms only on one of them. But that is a very long coastline -- 1,000 miles plus. And the commander of this whole operation says it is the most important of Libya's borders to police.

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VICE ADMIRAL RINALDO VERI, COMMANDER, NATO MARITIME COMMAND, NAPLES: Here today, the easiest way to get arms into Libya was by the sea. It was the easiest, the quickest and the most direct way.

So it -- it's another problem getting them to land, which is a -- which is a -- you know that Libya's southern borders is with the Sahara Desert.

So what we have done is shut that front door.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MAGNAY: And this ship, the ITS Aetna (ph), is the command and control center of the entire operation. And whilst commanders insist that NATO's role is still just to protect civilians and not to arm them, it is NATO member states who are currently discussing whether arm the rebels isn't the right next step.

Diana Magnay, CNN, on the ITS Aetna, Naples.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: All right, let's get more perspective on all of this, shall we?

I'm joined by our regular contributor to the show, Fawaz Gerges, who's a professor of Middle Eastern politics at the London School of Economics.

And Diane closing her report there by talking about the argument that the -- the Western members of the coalition still have about whether to arm the rebels or not. Of course, other people probably are arming them at this point, are they?

FAWAZ GERGES, CONNECT THE WORLD CONTRIBUTOR, LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS: Absolutely. The rebels are being armed by Egypt and Qatar. The question is not whether the -- the rebels should be armed or not. The question is whether NATO itself -- the United States, Britain and France -- should arm the rebels.

So arms are flowing to the rebels. And the rebels would not have been able to fight so far without the arms following from Egypt and Qatar and other sources, as well.

ANDERSON: NATO forces are there to make sure the arms embargo is enforced.

So it would be rather difficult, would it not, for NATO countries to go down the arming the rebels route, surely?

GERGES: Absolutely. It's not just about the legal question, the legal and the moral question, because, remember, the United Nations Security Council 1973 stipulates very clearly it's the protection of Libyan civilians, as opposed to taking part, engaging in the civil war itself that's raging be the opposition, the rebels and the Gadhafi regime.

But I think what the question has, Becky, is that it tells you about the escalation that's taken place -- taking place in Libya today, that initially, it was Libyan civilians. Now there is a military stalemate.

What is the next step?

Shall we arm the rebels?

Shall we send -- shall we shend -- send the Special Forces?

And -- and this is why military actions have a life of their own.

ANDERSON: We've been talking tonight about the diplomatic overtures that have been made by the Gadhafi regime to find some sort of conclusive political results here. The deputy foreign minister, we know, has been in Greece and is on his way to Turkey, a country that the opposition member who spoke to me earlier called a soft country in Gadhafi's mind.

Do you buy that?

GERGES: No, I don't buy that. Turkey is on record -- Turkey would like to see a political settlement. It would like to see a cease-fire. It would like to see engagement. It would like to see an option, a way out for Gadhafi.

It's not a soft power. Germany is in the same camp; Italy, to a lesser extent; the African Union.

So you have many powers who believe that somehow, the only way to break the deadlock that exists, the stalemate in Libya, is to engage not only the rebels and the opposition, but also the loyalists who are fighting on the side of Gadhafi.

Becky, we lose sight of the fact, Gadhafi would not have survived as long as he has without having a limited by cogent base of support, these loyalists who somehow, for a variety of reasons, support this bloody murderer in Libya.

ANDERSON: If Turkey is the next step for Gadhafi, what do you imagine the next step for the West will be?

And are we any closer to a diplomatic or military conclusion to this crisis?

GERGES: Several points.

You have two battles raging in Libya today, Becky. You have the military battle. And what you have witnessed in the last few days is a diplomatic and political battle. The reason why we are seeing, I think -- and I could be wrong -- the reason why we are seeing quickening political development, because I think of the military stalemate. Regardless of how much, I mean, progress the rebels have done, there's still a military -- relatively rough military stalemate. Gadhafi's forces control the west and the rebels control the east.

I think both the west -- the western leading camp and the opposition and the Gadhafi camp are looking for an exit strategy, a way out, of course, of the deadly stalemate that exists. I don't think there is a political way out as long as Gadhafi insists on having a measure of control and authority.

Gadhafi is testing the waters. He is sending feelers. Gadhafi -- the Gadhafi plan will never accept -- except one of their clan being in power. And that's why I don't blame the opposition at all and the rebels. As long as the Gadhafi clans remain in Libya, there will be no peace. There will be no way out of this deadly embrace.

ANDERSON: Fawaz, it was a pleasure to talk to you.

Fawaz Gerges, who is a regular guest on this show.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD here on CNN.

When we come back, no one knows what happened to Air France Flight 447 after it crashed into the South Atlantic two years ago.

But could new developments raise hopes investigators will finally solve the mystery?

And in Ivory Coast, the U.N. takes action as a battle looms in the country's main city.

You're watching CNN.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: CNN has learned that Washington is discussing a departure date for Yemen's president. Protesters are pushing for an end to Ali Abdullah Saleh's 33 year rule as his country's death toll rises. For a long time, Washington viewed him as an ally in its fight against al Qaeda.

But as the bodies pile up, Yemen's president is losing friends fast.

I'm Becky Anderson in London.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD.

For that, a look at the other stories that we are following for you this hour.

At least 10 people are dead after a United Nations plane crashed in the Democratic Republic of Congo. U.N. officials say it was raining when the plane tried to land in Kinshasa. The aircraft, which began its flight in Goma, was carrying 32 people on board.

Well, French investigators have found another piece in a tragic puzzle. Bodies from an Air France flight that crashed into the Atlantic Ocean nearly two years ago have been discovered along with the plane's wreckage. But there's no sign of the flight's data recorder. And that badly needed device could offer up clues about what happened on June the 1st, 2009. That's when Flight 447 dropped out of the sky on its way from Brazil to France, killing all 228 people aboard. French officials say the victims' remains will be brought to the surface.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALAIN BOUILLARD, INVESTIGATOR (through translator): It is impossible to tell you or determine the exact number of bodies we have down there. Given the -- the range and diversity of the pictures, the different angles and things, it's not possible to say that.

As I say, we're still having to work on this as a jigsaw puzzle before we can -- before we can really tell you about the position of where the bodies are and their exact numbers.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: The investigator, Alain Bouillard there.

Well, in Ivory Coast, the battle for control may be nearing a climax. The international presence increasing, as U.N. helicopters fired missiles at a military camp for forces loyal to the strongman, Laurent Gbagbo, while troops belong to the internationally recognized president, Alassane Ouattara, have surrounded Abidjan.

Now, earlier, the U.N. special representative explained why the international forces took action and what's still to come.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

YOUNG-JIN CHOI, U.N. SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE: Gbagbo's special forces have been using heavy weapons against the civilian population and United Nations peacekeepers. So it crossed the tipping point.

So we launched an operation for 59 p.m. Abidjan time to neutralize the heavy weapons, which have been used against the civilian population and the United Nations peacekeepers and it will be an ongoing operation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: And, of course, more on that story as we get it.

Well, elections in Nigeria for parliament, the president and state governors are each being pushed back for a week. Voters were supposed to pick a new parliament on Saturday, but that didn't happen. The head of the country's election commission blames late arrival of voting materials.

Well, as I said earlier, CNN has learned Washington is mediating a transition out of office for Yemen's embattled president. He once helped the U.S. fight al Qaeda. But violence against his own citizens now undermining old ties. That's coming up for you.

Then, life in limbo -- those who managed to survive Japan's disaster have a new trauma -- waiting for news of loved ones. We're going to take you to Japan a little later this hour.

Just ahead, though, you'll be live in Washington and in Abu Dhabi.

Stay with us.

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ANDERSON: You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD here on CNN.

I'm Becky Anderson in London for you.

Now, as his country bleeds, Yemen's president may be coming to the end of his 33 year rule. Two Yemeni officials tell CNN that the U.S. is now helping to mediate a transition for Ali Abdullah Saleh. We're going to have the full details on that in just a moment.

Well, it comes as protesters who want to be rid of Saleh's regime clashed with security forces on Monday in several Yemen cities. Medical sources say at least 14 people have been killed and hundreds have been injured. Witnesses say 90,000 demonstrators took to the streets.

Well, I'm joined right now by CNN's Mohammed Jamjoom at CNN in Abu Dhabi.

I know you've spent much of the last three months in and out of Yemen. You know the story on the ground as well as anybody else. The picture, it seems, is very volatile still.

MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right, Becky. Another bloody, grizzly day in Yemen today. Eyewitnesses, activities, protesters and medics telling us that in Taiz, where there have been protests the last several weeks, that today at least 15 people killed, hundreds injured. Yesterday, there were at least three killed, hundreds injured, as well. Also in the city of Hudaida, protests -- anti-government protests today. Eyewitnesses and medics on the scene say that snipers dressed in civilian clothing fired on crowds of protesters, killing them, that there were tens of people wounded in the street waiting for emergency care.

Meanwhile, in Sanaa, where, also, anti-government protesters were out in the tens of thousands, later in the day, tens of thousands of them, we're told, were marching toward the Republican Palace to show their defiance toward President Ali Abdullah Saleh and to show their solidarity with all those killed in Taiz and Hudaida yesterday and today. The situation really worsening there, not just because the anti-government protests and protesters keep growing and that that movement has really gained momentum in the last several weeks. Also because military commanders that used to be close to Saleh have defected from his ranks. They have put their troops in the streets there to defend the anti- government demonstrators whom they're trying to protect.

There are rival factions of the military in different parts of Yemen. And the worry now by Yemeni officials is that if something sparks, some kind of confrontation between these different military units, that they could spark an all-out civil war in that country -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Mohammed, thank you for that.

One of the longest running, perhaps more surprising revolts across the region.

World affairs correspondent Jill Dougherty is standing by in Washington with more now on what CNN has learned about a possible transition for Yemen's president -- Jill, a man once much courted by U.S. authorities.

Why the change?

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, the problem is right now, what you're seeing on the streets, Becky, you know, the demonstrators, the -- what they are pushing for right now. And the U.S. knows, of course, that President Saleh has said he will step down by the end of the year, after constitutional reform and after elections.

But the opposition is saying he has to step down right now.

So the U.S. is now in the middle, trying to mediate, bring both sides together. They're talking, certainly, to both sides. And a senior administration official saying today that they are trying to get President Saleh to move more quickly to answer the demands of the opposition.

Now in public, they're being a lot more circumspect.

Here's what they said at the State Department today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARK TONER, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: There's a gap between what President Saleh said and what the people have -- have asked for and certainly in our discussions, both in -- both with the government and with the opposition, that, you know, we're helping or -- we're talking about bridging that gap.

Again, our goal here is to see a peaceful solution to the -- to the violence and to the crisis, one that meets the -- realizes the Yemeni people's aspirations that -- that need to be addressed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DOUGHERTY: And some of the concerns are, of course, that right now, they want to stabilize the situation, not have it get worse, Becky. And also remember that President Saleh has been a loyal ally of the United States in the fight against terror. In fact, specifically against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, that version in Yemen.

And at the White House today, they warned that al Qaeda is trying, potentially, to take advantage of this situation.

ANDERSON: A fascinating developing story.

You'll get it here on CNN as we learn how things change.

Jill, thank you for that.

Well, the world also watching Syria, of course. A human rights lawyer says that Damascus is playing a game with activists. Attorney Razan Zeitouneh gave CNN a list, showing us some activities have been freed, while hundreds of others have been arrested. She says it's a back and forth bid to placate anti-government protesters and to crush dissent at the same time.

And elsewhere, Iran getting involved. Tehran pushing regional rival, Saudi Arabia, to get its troops out of Bahrain.

You're up to date on the region.

When we come back, the rush to stop a leak -- Japan's nuclear crisis takes another turn, with what authorities call an unavoidable action. We'll tell you more about this desperate move after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: Welcome back. At just after half past nine in London, you're with CONNECT THE WORLD here on CNN. I'm Becky Anderson.

Coming up, Japan makes an emergency move. We're going to show you why it says it must dump thousands of tons of radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean.

Then, taking action for Southern Sudan. It voted for independence from the government in Khartoum almost three months ago. Now, devoted activist Mia Farrow has been trying to help the areas achieve their goals for years, making her your Connector of the Day.

Then, we're in Rio de Janeiro for you this evening. We'll show you how older people in the City of God's slum are finding a new enthusiasm for life. That's our Urban Planet series that kicks off in just about 20 minutes from now.

Those stories ahead. As ever, though, at this point, let's get you a quick check of the headlines.

A fierce battle is underway for Al Brega, a strategic oil town in eastern Libya. Rebels launched a new attempt to recapture the center of town from government forces, but were pushed back by heavy artillery fire.

Yemen's president may be coming to the end of his 33-year rule. Two Yemeni officials tell CNN that the United States is helping to mediate a transition for Ali Abdullah Saleh. It comes as protesters clashed with security forces on Monday in several cities. Medical sources say at least 14 people have been killed and hundreds of others have been injured.

Submarines have found wreckage from the Air France flight that crashed into the Atlantic nearly two years ago. Officials say the search turned up two engines, the fuselage, and landing gear. Bodies of victims were still onboard.

In Ivory Coast, the United Nations has fired on a military camp operated by forces loyal to Laurent Gbagbo in a bid to halt attacks on civilians. It comes as fighters backing the internationally-recognized president Alassane Ouattara steps up attempts to take control of Abidjan.

And a sharp reversal of Obama administration policy. Several 9/11 terror suspects will be tried in military tribunals at the Guantanamo Bay detention center in Cuba. President Obama had been a staunch advocate of civilian trials for the suspects. Republican reaction to the news was swift.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), SENATE MINORITY LEADER: For the last two years, the Obama administration has actively sought to bring the 9/11 plotters into our communities for civilian trials, a completely horrible idea that rightly drew overwhelming bipartisan opposition from the American people and from their elected representatives here in Congress.

Today, the administration is announcing it has changed course. The administration, incredibly enough, today is announcing it has changed course.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: And with that, those are the headlines this hour, here on CNN.

Described as unavoidable and justified as the lesser of two evils, Japan has now begun dumping thousands of tons of radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean. This unprecedented breach of operating standards for the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant but, as Martin Savidge explains, the move is allowing workers to now concentrate on containing far more severe leaks in their reactors.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESONDENT (on camera): At the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, they're right in the middle of the process of releasing some 11,500 tons of what the company has called "lower-level radioactive water" into the Pacific Ocean.

This is, supposedly, a way of trying to deal with a major leak of highly concentrated levels of radiation that's been pouring into the Pacific as well.

The announcement of this release came as a surprise to many. It came from the government Yukio Edano, and he explained that it wasn't something they really wanted to do, but it was something that had to be done.

YUKIO EDANO, JAPANESE GOVERNMENT SPOKESPERSON (through translator): Both are contaminated with radioactivity. Even though it is radioactive, it is -- unavoidable to have that water released to the sea. In order to ensure the storage of the contaminated water, water in the storage tanks needs to be released to the sea, as well as unit number three and four.

SAVIDGE: All of this is a result of just too much water. That water has been used for weeks, now, to try to cool the reactors and keep the fuel pools fully stocked with water. But as a result, there are a lot of leaks out there and a lot of runoff. And much of that runoff has been contaminated with nuclear radiation.

The other concern is this gushing leak that appears to be highly radioactive water coming from reactor number two. It is believed that by offloading this lower-level radiation into the Pacific Ocean it could do two things. One, create space for storage of the much more highly contaminated water, and two, perhaps reduce the pressure, and thereby cut off the leak of the highly radioactive water going into the Pacific ocean. No guarantees, but at least company officials believe it's worth a try.

In Tokyo, I'm Martin Savidge. Back to you.

All right, well, let's take a look, then, at what we do know about this radioactive waste water being dumped out into the ocean. Japanese officials do say it is less radioactive than what is now leaking into the sea. But its top levels of radioactive iodine, 131, more still than 100 times the legal limit allowed for sea discharge.

Well, another way to look at this. It's about ten times the level of radioactivity permitted in food. But since it's flowing into the Pacific Ocean, it will be quickly diluted. That is, according, at least, to CNN consultant Dr. James Cox, an American radiation oncologist.

Well, the fear of radiation contamination also gripping the country's economy, of course, Kyung Lah takes a look, now at how exports are being hit, as some wary buyers steer clear of all things made in Japan.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KYUNG LAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): What does this toy monkey have to do with the crisis at the Fukushima nuclear plant? Nothing. But Sven Kilian is still scanning with a Geiger counter.

SVEN KILIAN, JAPANI, JAPANRNEDSHOP.COM: It's 0.13 microsieverts.

LAH (voice-over): All of his toys and gadgets at Japantrendshop.com. There's a notice on his company's homepage to his international customers stating the nuclear crisis has no connection to his exports.

KILIAN: People are just scared. I understand it's like -- so, we just want to prove to everybody and show you don't need to be scared.

LAH (voice-over): But many are afraid, as news reports show countries like Thailand testing Japanese food exports, Hong Kong, screening passengers from Japan for radiation.

In the United States, inspectors have picked up traces of radiation from the Fukushima plant on both coasts, including milk in Washington state. None have found dangerous levels of radiation, but the headlines add up to a fear of product dubbed "made in Japan."

LAH (on camera): Public sentiment does have a real impact on the economy, and Japan watchers say, in this case, it's an impact that will be felt for some time to come.

WILLIAM SAITO, ECONOMIC ADVISER: This is going to be a measurable impact, and some people won't -- some industries and some companies will not survive. When you have --

LAH (voice-over): William Saito is an adviser to Japan's government on the economic fallout of the Fukushima and tsunami crises. Saito believes high-tech, nameless parts that go into vehicles and popular electronics, won't be impacted due to radiation fears. But given a choice between a brand dubbed "made in Japan" versus another country, consumers will not choose Japan.

SAITO: I think that consumer sentiment and -- going forward, things like this, once they make the decision, it's hard to change, at least for a generation. And this will affect buying habits.

KILIAN: Ready to go.

LAH (voice-over): Sven Kilian has this plea to global consumers.

KILIAN: Continue buying stuff, because this is what helps us here in Japan. It doesn't help us if everybody stops buying and panicking, now, for no reason. Just makes the economy worse and doesn't help anything.

LAH (voice-over): Kilian knows ridiculous. He sells a beauty voice trainer, a plastic sushi game, and a beauty contraption that lifts your nose. He believes the fear of radiation is silly, but the impact on his livelihood is not. Kyung Lah, CNN, Tokyo.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: All important stories, of course, though we must not forget the lives lost during Japan's twin disasters. In the past 24 hours, searches have found the bodies of dozens more victims of the March 11th earthquake and tsunami. Police in Japan now say that more than 12,000 people died in the disaster. Well over 15,000 are still missing. Those numbers are remarkable, aren't they?

Those who survived the events of that terrible day now face major challenges. Three weeks on, many are still living in a sort of limbo, as Paula Hancocks shows. With no town to go back to and few answers of where to go next, it's really just a waiting game.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Lunch time in Minamisanriku. A hot bowl of soup and noodles is the one event that breaks up a long day of waiting for these evacuees. Waiting to see if missing relatives appear. Waiting for someone to tell them where to go next.

A sleeping space three meters by two meters, cardboard boxes for walls, and donated blankets. It's a harsh way for a couple in their 70s to live.

Fisherman Michiosi Orikara (ph) says, "I was born here, raised here, and have been working here all my life. But being old, it's very hard to think about what the future holds."

The vast majority of this town is destroyed, 375 residents are confirmed dead, thousands are still unaccounted for. Officials cannot tell us how many, exactly, are missing.

HANCOCKS (on camera): It's very hard to believe, when you're standing in the middle of this once bustling fishing town, that there are some slights signs of improvement. Some of the bigger debris has been taken away, but that's the result of three weeks of intense work by a number of different teams, which showed that it could takes months to clear and years to rebuild.

HANCOCKS (voice-over): This was Minamisanriku two days after the tsunami destroyed a community.

This is the town today. Rebuilding seems too overwhelming a task to consider, but they have to start somewhere. So, they start with electricity. No electricity, heat, or running water for more than three weeks was too much for some residents. They moved inland to a converted school. One of the town's leaders, Tokura Sato, was among them. He tells me --

TOKURA SATO, MINAMISANRIKUK TOWN LEADER (through translator): I don't want to go back to the places that were swept away by the wave completely. But I do want to go back to some part of my town.

HANCOCKS (voice-over): Temporary housing is being built in some areas, but residents of Minamisanriku are still waiting to hear where their will be. Stuck in an existence where minutes can feel like hours, some try to inject a sense of normality.

The state of limbo for others is compounded by the agonizing check of long lists of dead and missing.

Others still just try to keep busy. Paula Hancocks, CNN, Minamisanriku, Japan.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: Picture on the ground, there, in Japan some three weeks after the tsunami and earthquake.

Coming up on CONNECT THE WORLD, one of Hollywood's most iconic activists is updating us on the volatile situation in the newly-created Southern Sudan. She's your CONNECTOR OF THE DAY. You'll recognize her face. She is up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: Forty-five minutes past nine in London. Now, for years, actress Mia Farrow has done whatever it takes to raise awareness about what is happening in the Darfur region. And just last month, she returned from Southern Sudan, where she traveled as a UNICEF ambassador. She spoke with my colleague Monita Rajpal as your Connector of the Day. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MONITA RAJPAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): She was named by "Time" magazine in 2008 as one of the most influential people in the world. Clout that Mia Farrow hopes will help bring peace to Darfur.

Indeed, the actress who was once married to Frank Sinatra has long been a leading lady. She starred in films, including "Rosemary's Baby" and "The Great Gatsby," but is best known for the 13 movies she made with her former muse, Woody Allen.

Since 2000, Mia has dedicated herself to her role as a UNICEF ambassador, traveling to trouble spots that include Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Chad, and Haiti. Her focus, to raise money and awareness for the women and children affected by the violence. I caught up with your Connector of the Day as she returned from her latest trip to Sudan's conflict-ravaged South.

MIA FARROW, UNICEF AMBASSADOR: I met with some children who had been rescued. The Ugandan army has been going after the LRA and, when they find an encampment, there's gunfire exchanged, and one little girl that I met got caught in the crossfire, and it shattered her leg.

And in speaking to her, she had been abducted and held for two years, she didn't know her age, but looked to be about 11 or 12. And they took her -- they killed her family, they separated the men from when they -- when they seized the village, they separated the men and killed them and took women and children with them into the deep brush.

And she said, "We walked and walked and walked." And if you were lagging behind, that they would beat you. And she didn't say, but apparently all girls and women are raped as part of a ritual, and there are other rituals, too. A little boy told me that he was forced to kill his father with a log.

RAJPAL (on camera): The UN had described the situation in Darfur in Southern Sudan as, perhaps, one of the world's worst humanitarian crises. We see about 2 million people displaced, people have been killed, thousands upon thousands have been killed, and yet, this is going to be a part of the world that will be the youngest nation in the world in July. What kind of a nation do you think it'll be?

FARROW: I think it's a nation full of remarkable and resilient and smart people, that if you just put the lowest run of the economic ladder within their reach, that they will grasp it and climb right out.

RAJPAL: Do you feel there's a reluctance from the international community to really do something? It has been going on for quite a while, now.

FARROW: Well, things are changing. Because it is, now, not part of the North, I think there was a reluctance while it was neither -- it was going to vote to be an independent nation. It is not yet confirmed as such. So, it is kind of a little bit of a limbo right now.

But while it was with the North, there were severe restrictions on what people could do. So, I do think it is a great moment for the international community to give a hand.

RAJPAL: They look towards the UN to come up with a solution, but then they're also the same people who say that whatever the UN comes up with, it doesn't have any meat. It doesn't have the clout anymore to do anything. What do you say to that?

FARROW: For sure the peacekeepers, the UN force that is there now, doesn't have the mandate to protect the people and is scarcely able to protect itself, never mind the people. So, the plea, finally from all the people I spoke to wherever in Sudan was for protection, protection, protection. And I don't think there's a more visceral plea from the human heart than, "Protect us."

Women tell me, "We don't know when we go to sleep at night if we'll wake up in the morning." And if you don't have that level of security, than we can talk about education, medical care, economic development until the cows come home, but you won't have that if people aren't safe.

RAJPAL: We've got a couple of questions from our viewers --

FARROW: OK.

RAJPAL: -- that I'd like to as you, as well. Jeff is asking, "How can we help?"

FARROW: Well, depends what -- if you have money to give, and I know times are tough, then you would support -- I work with UNICEF, and I know for sure because I've seen it, the good things they are doing. There are other aid agencies, you can look at who's working there.

And then, you can encourage, we who live in democracies, we can encourage our government to lend a hand to the people of Sudan. And Darfur, not to be forgotten in the mix.

RAJPAL: We have Martie Wyatt asking, "When I try to raise awareness of this issue, I get the 'take care of America first' argument. How do you counter the opinion that we don't have the resources anymore to help these situations?"

FARROW: I don't think we can afford not to, because when we have a failed state, look at Somalia and look at the breeding ground for terrorism that that has become. So, moral issues aside if you want to put them aside, and looking at it purely pragmatically, if we can help the people of South Sudan -- who love us, by the way -- to climb out of poverty, then they become a productive nation.

And I would think that would happen in a relatively short time. We may be thinking of seven years or something where they would actually prosper. Then, you don't have a collapsed state, you have a productive nation, and it lifts up all of us.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: Mia Farrow speaking to my colleague, Monita Rajpal. And as ever, you can head to the website to find out about all of our upcoming Connectors, cnn.com/connect is where you can find those.

Well, just ahead on the show, granny daycare in Rio de Janeiro's City of God. Elderly people are regaining their zest for life. Our Urban Planet special series kicks off right after this short break. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: Welcome back, this is CNN and CONNECT THE WORLD. Get this. Half of the world's population already lives in urban areas, and the United Nations estimates that by 2050, two thirds of all of us will live in cities.

I want to get you a sense of, really, what is going on, here, with this interactive map. If you've got a laptop and it's open, you can also find this at facebook.com/connect.

Now, this is a timeline for you, and if I just kick it off here, starting in 1950, if it'll do it for me -- yes, it will -- to present day, the global growth in city populations, you can see here, is most rapid in the cities all over the world.

Ninety-two percent of the people, for example, in the UK live in urban areas, 60 percent of people in China are in urban areas. And some of the lowest figures we saw is actually Sri Lanka, with just 20 percent of its population living in big cities.

All right. Thanks to modern medicine and technology, we're all living longer. That poses a number of challenges for cities around the world. In Rio, for example, one center wants to make sure that elderly people hold onto their independence for as long as possible. And why not? As Shasta Darlington reports, it's proving very successful.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(PEOPLE SINGING IN PORTUGUESE)

SHAST DARLINGTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESONDENT (voice-over): His face is crinkled, and his health is fading. But Jose Pereira has a teenager's lust for life.

(PEOPLE SINGING IN PORTUGUESE)

DARLINGTON (voice-over): "It's so delicious to be in love," he belts out during a game of dominoes at the Casa de Santa Ana, a pioneering center for the elderly in one of Rio de Janeiro's most notorious slums.

(WOMAN SINGING IN PORTUGUESE)

DARLINGTON (voice-over): Pereira spends his days here, but walks, colostomy bag tied to his belt, two blocks home to his family at night.

JOSE PEREIRA, BRAZILIAN RETIREE (through translator): "It's like a daycare for adults," he says. "There, I have fun with my friends. Here, my son-in-law works nights, my daughter works days, my neighbors are out."

DARLINGTON (voice-over): His son-in-law sees many benefits. "He spent more than an hour in the bathroom today," he says, "fixing his hair, his mustache. I told him, 'I think you've got a girlfriend there.'"

The Casa de Santa Ana takes care of 120 seniors every day. People from the sprawling City of God shantytown who might otherwise end up in rest homes.

DARLINGTON (on camera): One of the biggest challenges here is keeping people healthy. There's a physical therapist who comes in every single day, and she has to deal with everything from diabetes to heart problems. But she and her assistant also give massages, acupuncture -- the idea is to make sure that these people don't need to end up in homes for the elderly.

DARLINGTON (voice-over): The house also provides hot meals, exercise classes, and activities. It was founded in 1991 by social worker Maria de Lourdes Braz.

MARIA DE LOURDES BRAZ, FOUNDER, CASA SANTA ANA (through translator): "I'd worked at nursing homes where the elderly arrived, and in less than a year or two, they died," she says. "Not here. We have people who've been coming for 20 years."

DARLINGTON (voice-over): They also bring young and old together in community events, like a visit from Yale University students.

(UNIVERSITY STUDENTS SINGING)

(APPLAUSE)

DARLINGTON (voice-over): Fundraising isn't easy, so the house has to turn some people away. While children are seen as the future, Braz says the elderly are viewed as the past.

BRAZ (through translator): "But they already produced and did things," she says, "so they have a right to live with dignity. We're obliged to respect that."

DARLINGTON (voice-over): At the age of 78, Pereira has 15 great- grandchildren and an impressive repertoire of sambas and love songs. And now, he has a romantic interest to sing to.

(MEN SINGING IN PORTUGUESE)

DARLINGTON (voice-over): Shasta Darlington, CNN, Rio de Janeiro.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: Just the first of our series of special reports on our Urban Planet all this week here on CNN at this time.

Just because you or I live in an urban environment doesn't mean that we can't dream of visiting some of the world's most extreme landscapes, and this is exactly what happened in our Parting Shots tonight. Eleven-year- old Nico Saporito from Florida thought he'd try his hand at Mount Kilimanjaro -- all 5800 meters of it.

The tiny teen got the idea from watching people climb Africa's highest mountain on TV. He then trained for three years to prepare his body for the grueling task. Together with his father and two guides, Nico spent four days on the mountain and became one of the youngest to ever reach the peak. I know how he feels, I did it, but it was tough.

I'm Becky Anderson, that is your world connected here on CNN. Thank you for watching. The world news headlines and "BackStory" follow this short break. Don't go away.

END