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Aid Reaches Madaya; The Child Soldiers of ISIS, Part II; Interview with Annie Leibovitz; Imagine a World. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired January 13, 2016 - 14:00   ET




CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST (voice-over): Tonight: CNN learns the Syrian government will allow another aid convoy to reach the starving people of


But will the siege be lifted there and elsewhere?

Plus: turning the camera around; world-famous photographer Annie Leibovitz, who shot a host of celebrities and politicians, on her new

installation on women and the surprising fact about her most royal subject.


ANNIE LEIBOVITZ, PHOTOGRAPHER: You know what I loved about her most?

She does her own hair and makeup.

AMANPOUR: Are you serious?

LEIBOVITZ: No. She does her own hair and makeup.



AMANPOUR: Good evening, everyone and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.

The people of Madaya waited and waited and when the aid they so desperately needed finally, arrived they wept. Yesterday, food, medicine and blankets

were delivered to the besieged Syrian town just an hour away from downtown Damascus.

And what eyewitnesses found there confirmed these pictures that we showed you last week of a community slowly starving to death, deprived of food for

nearly three months.

One U.N. official told the media that what he saw in Madaya is the worst he's witnessed during this war and Reuters reports that the U.N.'s top war

crimes investigator has collected testimony and evidence that the Assad regime is slowly starving his people to death.

The U.N. says about 400 people are so ill they need immediate medical evacuation from Madaya and the 40,000 residents have only received 49

truckloads of food and aid, which will last only a month.

And so what next?

The International Rescue Committee's (sic) Marianne Gasser was among those who went to deliver the aid in Madaya and she told me a short while ago she

thinks they'll be able to take in more convoys.


AMANPOUR: Marianne Gasser, welcome to the program.

What did you see, compared to your last visit?

And how badly off are the people there?

MARIANNE GASSER, ICRC: Compared to the last visit, what I've seen is that the humanitarian situation has deteriorated in Madaya because Madaya is an

area which is completely besieged.

I have seen a lot of suffering. I've seen a lot of women and children who are -- were -- looked really hungry and everybody had asked us, did you

bring in food maybe?

They wanted even food before the -- before the blankets because we had also blankets with us.

I could speak to the -- a lot of women, a lot of children and some of them looked also malnourished. A lot of women told us that they had a lack of

food or that we have seen and they were also -- sometimes they had to boil water with some spices and this was one of the meals for -- of the



AMANPOUR: And were there people who were starving to death?

We've heard reports before the convoy got in that a dozen or more had starved to death and, indeed, the United Nations said 400 civilians right

now in Madaya are so ill they need to be evacuated.

GASSER: I cannot confirm the figures. Despite the fact that we stayed almost a whole day and throughout the night in Madaya and we could speak to

the people, still there was not enough time to get even a quick assessment.

And there also we need nutritionists and more house staff. So, figures, I cannot confirm, yet I cannot confirm also that people were completely

starving. But definitely I have seen children, women and especially elderly, who seem to be malnourished and who were really very hungry.

Now we hope -- we got the approval to go back tomorrow. We are planning to go tomorrow. It's, again, a joint team of the ICRC, the SOFC (ph) and the

U.N. and so there we will also further assess the humanitarian needs and bring in additional humanitarian assistance.

AMANPOUR: Well, I was going to ask you about that because the 49 initial trucks that you've taken in so far apparently are good only for a month.

So do you have an agreement from the authorities that --


AMANPOUR: -- these people will not be re-besieged and they will not be re- starved?

GASSER: OK. We got the approval for tomorrow. Now everything is ready. We're going to move also early morning.

Now we might go back on Sunday or Monday and we hope -- and this is also what we are requesting for Madaya but also for so many other locations

which are besieged or hard to reach and besieged by any sides in this conflict, that we need unimpeded and regular access in order to relieve the

humanitarian -- the suffering of the civilian population.

AMANPOUR: Obviously the reason you got in is because of the media, because of social media, because of pictures, because this has been going on for a

long time and you guys have been asking the authorities for permission for months to get into these places.

And only when it hits the public does the Syrian government and others move.

I mean, how are you going to keep the pressure on the government and all sides to let you get through?

GASSER: Yes. There was a lot of media -- a lot of media on -- a lot of media focus on Madaya. But again, I would like to underline the situation

it's affording in Madaya, the situation is also very difficult and also appalling in many other localities.

And we did not only go to Madaya, another team. But many of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent went to Foua and Kefraya.

Now we are pushing -- it's not because of only this media attention and the media focus and, yes, to do it only with one location; whereas we know

there are 15 other locations at least, with more than 40,000 people suffering from all parties to this conflict.

AMANPOUR: As a human being, as a long-time humanitarian worker there in Syria throughout this whole war, what was your gut reaction when you got to

Madaya, which has been besieged, where these pictures of terrible starvation and malnutrition, what was your gut reaction when you got there

and saw the people for the first time?

GASSER: My first reaction, well, I saw a lot of children, who asked us, did you bring bread? Do you have a biscuit to give me?

But I saw that the people, some of them, for example, had not -- most of them have not eaten bread for months.

When I saw these children begging for some food, so this -- and especially the elderly, elderly, that many of them were -- seem to be really


And but what I've seen is a lot of suffering. Now again, I would like to say in other places there is a lot of suffering and it's -- yes, this is,

unfortunately, the Syrian conflict. So that's why, for us, the best would be -- oh, I know -- it's really to lift all the sieges.

AMANPOUR: You need access and you really need an end to this war.

Marianne Gasser, thank you so much indeed.

GASSER: An end to this war is definitely a political solution.

AMANPOUR: Exactly. Thank you.


AMANPOUR: And while mothers and fathers in Madaya struggle to feed their children, elsewhere in Syria and Iraq, parents are grieving for theirs in

part two of our chilling series on "The Child Soldiers of ISIS." Nima Elbagir takes us to Sinjar in Iraq, from where 600 children have been

abducted. Here is her report.


NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The road into Sinjar town, almost two months after liberation from ISIS it's still heavily guarded.

Sinjar's mayor has traveled with us today to show us what remains of this city.

When ISIS swept through the Yazidi homeland, it's along this very road where the men, women and children, rounded up from the surrounding

villages, were driven. The mayor takes us to the other side of the earth defenses encircling the town.

This was the site of an ISIS massacre.

ELBAGIR: It breaks his heart, he says, to leave the bones exposed like this to the elements but no one has come to investigate. No one has come

to document. So they don't want to undermine any findings.

This grave is one of the hundreds, he tells us. Here is where they buried the women and the children. The young boys who refused to accompany ISIS,

who refused to be conscripted as child soldiers.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): Surviving eyewitnesses tell CNN the victims in these graves, more than 130 people --


ELBAGIR (voice-over): -- had originally been singled out for transport to the nearby ISIS town of Tal Afar. They refused. You can still see the

cloth ties that bound the victims' hands, both young and old, the prayer beads clutched until the final moments, the bullets fired by the


A refugee camp in Northern Iraq: those who managed to flee ISIS have found refuge here. Kurdish authorities tell CNN they have evidence of the

abduction of approximately 600 children from Sinjar and the surrounding Yazidi villages. Around 200 have since escaped and are sheltering in camps

like this one across the Kurdish region, returning to describe the brutality.

Eleven-year-old Nordi Fela (ph) is one of the lucky ones. His family were abducted the day of the Sinjar massacre. Once in Tal Afar, he refused to

join the training. ISIS fighters brutally beat him, breaking his leg in three places. When it healed, he could only limp.

"They asked me go to the mountain," he says, "and I refused. Again, then, they broke my leg. That saved me. The other children were taken by


He says the fighters deemed him useless. That saved his life.

Nordi's (ph) 5-year-old brother, Saman (ph), was terrified from the very beginning, subjected to daily beatings. Their life in the ISIS camp is

something no one, no child, should ever have to endure.

The children's grandmother, Gauda Halaf (ph), says the boys described watching as militants murdered other children who refused to train.

Gauda (ph) tells us, "They are utterly traumatized. Nordi (ph) wakes up terrified through the night, screaming that he's being choked and Saman

(ph) still suffers from seizures."

Traumatized and too broken to march in the militants' ranks, they were, by some miracle, released by ISIS.

Back at the outskirts of town, in the distance, we can see smoke rising from a mortar strike into an ISIS encampment. Mass graves, we're told,

honeycomb the valley leading to the boundary of their territory.

On the ground, the mayor spots a fragment of what appears to be a child's skull. Delicately, reverently, he places it on top of the grave. One day,

he tells us, he hopes it will be safe enough here for forensic investigators to come and help them identify the children under this rubble

-- Nima Elbagir, CNN, Sinjar.


AMANPOUR: A dark snapshot indeed.

And next up, an antidote to that darkness with some of the life-affirming portraits that have defined a generation. Legendary photographer Annie

Leibovitz tells me about her new exhibit: women on her mind and in her frame -- next.




AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.

From Johnny Depp to the queen --


AMANPOUR: -- to John Lennon and the Obamas, world-famous Annie Leibovitz has shot them all, making her the portrait photographer of our generation.

It was Leibovitz who snapped Caitlyn Jenner's coming out for "Vanity Fair."

And it was Leibovitz who, decades earlier, captured the stunning image of John Lennon and Yoko Ono for the cover of "Rolling Stone."

Now despite financial troubles and the death of her long-time partner, Susan Sontag, Leibovitz keeps going and she's now unveiling an update to

her series, "Women," to include Misty Copeland, the African American dancer, who broke race barriers in the world of ballet.

And world's most famous feminist, Gloria Steinem. I talked to Leibovitz about all of this when I sat down with her just before the exhibit opens

here in London.


AMANPOUR: Annie, welcome to the program.

LEIBOVITZ: OK, thank you.

AMANPOUR: We're sitting here and I have to ask you about the queen. It was such an amazing shoot and very few people get close to the queen.

What did you think of her?

LEIBOVITZ: Oh, my god, I -- she's feisty. She's feisty. I mean there was -- you know, there was -- that was the session that had so much controversy

over it. And I said, what are you talking about?

I mean, she was just incredible to work with. I mean, there was a thought that she walked out of the shoot and, of course, she was --

AMANPOUR: Walking in.

LEIBOVITZ: -- she was walking into the shoot. And the --


AMANPOUR: Was she fun to shoot?

LEIBOVITZ: -- the reality is she is a woman with a great sense of duty. I mean she -- and she not only -- she stayed the entire 25 minutes, 30

minutes, but she waited for me to say I was done. And then I said thank you. And she didn't get up and leave. She's feisty. I mean, it's like

photographing your great-aunt or something like that. It really is -- you know, she has so much energy and so much drive. And --


LEIBOVITZ: She definitely has opinions. She said, "I don't think I'm going to be wearing this cape thing -- " I mean, it was a 75-pound cape

that she's walking around in, very heavy with these ceremonial robes.

You know what I loved about her the most?

She does her own hair and makeup.

AMANPOUR: Are you serious?

LEIBOVITZ: No. She does her own hair and makeup.

AMANPOUR: The queen of England does her own hair and makeup?

That's news, Annie Leibovitz.

LEIBOVITZ: That is impressive. That's impressive.

AMANPOUR: Fast forward to this amazing exhibit that you're doing about many you special and many ordinary women.

The Perrelli calendar that you have just shot, I think has swept women and perhaps men as the -- you know, daring to do something different.

What was your objective this time around?

LEIBOVITZ: Well, this time -- and I will say that the Perrelli came in this time and they said, we want you to do distinguished women. And I

said, this is not going to happen.

AMANPOUR: What wasn't going to happen, distinguished women nude or -- ?

LEIBOVITZ: No. Just photographing them -- I mean, not nude but they definitely -- they still wanted -- they're Italian. They still wanted it

racy. They would go, well, you know, you know, and I said, you can't do this.

And I came back with an idea that -- I said let's do female comedians through history or something and do something like a takeoff on the

Perrelli calendars.

And then I said, OK. We're going to do this. We're just going to go all out and do this. And this is -- these are going to be very straight

portraits and that's it. You know, I made a list I made some personal calls to people like Patti Smyth, you know, Amy Schumer, who I admired, and


AMANPOUR: What were you trying to say, because --

LEIBOVITZ: You know, you know, I wasn't really trying to say anything and I was really upset when the pictures first hit the media because they put

out Serena Williams and Amy and they made it look like the calendar was just nude again and it's not. They were the only ones, you know, and as

you know, Amy was a punchline. So yes.

AMANPOUR: Well, I was going to say, the Amy one went viral. I mean, it was so unusual and she's so honest and so raw in her performance that it

felt to me like she was saying something and maybe you were helping her say something.

LEIBOVITZ: You know, she's really smart but she is a great actor. And she sat down and she just, you know -- it was like, you know, well, she'd wear

this -- you know, I think I forced her to put the underpants on. Because she would have done it completely --

AMANPOUR: But that tummy roll was heard around the world.

LEIBOVITZ: She has gotten very savvy about it and she didn't wait. She immediately issued -- tweeted a comment about, you know, how, you know,

"Look at my body in all these -- in this configuration and I love it."

AMANPOUR: You are the mother, the single mother of three daughters.


AMANPOUR: You also had your children right slap-bang in the middle of a major financial crisis.



AMANPOUR: That you were undergoing and that went very public so we all know about it.

LEIBOVITZ: Right. It was a little too public. Yes, it was a little scary.

AMANPOUR: What was the scariest part?

How did you get yourself out of it?

LEIBOVITZ: Well, honestly, it was a good kick in the butt, is really the truth, because I really didn't handle my business at all. And if there's

anything I could highly recommend is, you know, any artist -- I think I was taking the route of, I'm an artist and I'm not going to take care of any of


And it came around and bit me in the butt. I mean, it was a little bit more public than I would have liked it to have been and the solution was I

just worked harder. I just -- I just said there's not going to be a white knight coming through the door on a horse. I'm just going to work harder.

And that's exactly what I did.

I just worked a lot harder. And I loved to sort of just get obsessed with something. I love to -- remember when we were in Sarajevo and you --

you're cut off and you just go into something and you work and you create that work.

AMANPOUR: I wanted to ask you about Sarajevo. That is where we first met. And you did some very different work.

You did war.


AMANPOUR: It was very different. It wasn't this.

Does that still have a profound impact on you?

How did that impact you?

LEIBOVITZ: Oh, sure. I mean, it actually was, you know -- it was during that kind of high moment with Susan Sontag, who, you know, -- I was

photographing a lot of "Vanity Fair" and I come from a more traditional sense of journalism, having worked at "Rolling Stone" and having covered a

lot of politics.

And Susan said to me, "You're good but you could be better."

And Susan was going in on Sarajevo. And I, you know -- and David Reef (ph), I think, her son needed a trip in there. And so I just -- we just

rigged something together with "Vanity Fair." "Vanity Fair" made me sign a disclaimer that, if I got killed, they weren't responsible. But it really

brought out those old journalistic...

AMANPOUR: Roots, instinct.

LEIBOVITZ: -- yes, which are -- which is there, in the work still.

AMANPOUR: A lot of your pictures have been ahead of the zeitgeist and have been trendsetters. Let's just go back to the one I remember, which was

obviously Demi Moore pregnant and to the profile.

Again, fast forward and your picture of Caitlyn Jenner stunned the world.

Did you expect that impact?

LEIBOVITZ: Not -- I didn't expect it to be quite as big as it was. But I -- let's just say I was more prepared for this one than I was for Demi


Caitlyn, I think we knew -- I knew was going to be important and big but I didn't know at what level. I think that's the social media aspect to it.

I mean, there was a lot of talk about it being how great this was for magazines but I don't think the magazine had anything to do with it.

Everyone saw the picture in the first 10 seconds online. And that was what was -- the phenomenon was, you know. But in the Caitlyn situation, I

wanted nothing more than for her to be happy with herself. And so it was a huge responsibility to see her come emerge. So it was powerful stuff. It

was powerful stuff.

AMANPOUR: Annie Leibovitz, thank you very much indeed.

LEIBOVITZ: OK. Thank you, Christiane. Oh, my god. It's so great to see you.


AMANPOUR: And the incredible exhibition opens here in London this weekend and then later on travels to several cities around the world.

And when we come back, more moments frozen in time as we imagine a World War I curiosi-tea, the forgotten faces and voices of World War I that surge

back to life, thanks to a British tea room. We'll explain -- next.





AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, imagine a world sealed in time. In a small corner of Britain, the lives of World War I's forgotten soldiers have

resurfaced after a local project digitized two guestbooks from a World War I era tea room based in a former railway hub.

The tea room was originally created by the Women's United Total Abstinence Council to keep soldiers out of pubs but as an aside it also created a safe

space where the war-weary troops could seek a moment's peace before heading back to the front.

The 590 entries on the website feature the art, the humor, the sadness and the gratitude of those soldiers, with some poetic entries paying tribute to

the tea room.

Cambridge Cadet C.M. Jameson (ph) writing in Christmas 1916, "When the war drum throbs no longer, may I -- going north -- be here again."

And that's it for our program tonight. Remember, you can now also listen to our podcast, see us online at and follow me on Facebook and


And continuing our week-long tribute to David Bowie, the transformational artist of our time, we leave you tonight with this signature anthem,

"Changes," and note the "Blackstar," his final farewell, along with almost his entire back catalog are topping the charts all over the world. Thanks

for watching and goodbye from London.