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ISIS Suicide Squads Head Towards Mosul; Aleppo Civilians Face Desperate Daily Life; The Big Business Behind People Smuggling; Ringing in a Victory for Iraq's Christians. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired October 26, 2016 - 14:00   ET


[14:00:10] CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Tonight, as the punishing siege of eastern Aleppo continues, the U.N. human rights chief tells us the

Syrian and Russian governments must be held accountable.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All parties to a conflict must of course abide by international humanitarian law and we will call them out. Whoever the

attacker may be.


AMANPOUR: Plus, the war in Syria has produced the biggest refugee crisis since World War II. And war has given people smugglers an opportunity like

they've never had before. The incredible investigation into how that billion-dollar business works.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Those tentacles of the smuggling industry all there waiting to be enlivened to gather up this people through the gateway that

Libya presented at the time.


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

ISIS suicide squads, men in vests and cars laden with explosives are making their way to Iraq from Syria. All part of an effort to slow the Mosul

offensive. Iraqi-led forces have already freed nearby villages from the Islamic State and this emotional new video shows residents who lived under

Daesh control for two years finally reuniting with their families.

The U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter says the offensive in Mosul won't take their eyes off Syria, specifically, Raqqah, the so-called capital of

the Islamic State. But it is Syria's biggest city, Aleppo, that continues to spiral into unimaginable suffering. In a moment, the U.N. Human Rights

commissioner gives me his judgment on war crimes there.

But, first, our Fred Pleitgen reports on the desperate daily life in that historic and once-proud city.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDEN (voice-over): As the world's attention is focused on the fight against ISIS around Mosul -- the killing in Aleppo


Russia and the Syrian government say they haven't flown any strike missions for over a week, but the shelling of the rebel-held east of the city hasn't

stopped say observers and residents.

The carnage has been brutal. Thousands have been killed in the past years. But sometimes miracles happen like in September. Rescue workers found this

little girl under the rubble of a bombed house.

"Hold my hand, daddy," she screams, before they manage to pull her out. In total, 24 people were killed in this building alone. As the U.S. and its

allies say Russia is using heavier munitions, including possibly bunker- busting bombs in residential areas with devastating effects, an Aleppo doctor told us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People who are next to those bombs are immediately dead.

PLEITGEN: Both the United States and Britain have condemned the bombing of civilians in Aleppo and called for both the Russian and Syrian governments

to be investigated for possible war crimes. The Russians deny the allegations and say they are hitting Islamism rebels affiliated with al


But even the U.N.'s representative to the Syrian conflict is likening the situation to massacre the international community failed to stop in the


STAFFAN DE MISTURA, U.N. SPECIAL ENVOY FOR SYRIA: There is only one thing that we are not ready to do, be passive, resonate ourselves to another

Srebrenica, another Rwanda.

PLEITGEN: So far there's been little the U.N. has been able to do, even during a recent short-lived cease-fire, no U.N. aid was allowed into

besiege eastern Aleppo. The water system. Many schools and most hospitals have been bombed out of commission. Almost as bad as the lack of supplies

coming in, the U.N. says, is the inability to bring the sick and wounded out.

Russia says it currently doesn't see the possibility of another round of ceasefire talks in the near future, keeping tensions with the U.S.-led

coalition high. For the population in Eastern Aleppo, that seems to leave only the option of hunkering down and praying for survival.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN, London.


AMANPOUR: So I asked the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, Zeid Al Hussein, whether any intervention or any accountability could stop all



AMANPOUR: High commissioner, welcome to the program.

Can I drill down, if this terrible war in Syria continues, what is your view on what is happening in Eastern Aleppo? Besieged, being hit by

bunker-busting bombs, people can't even shelter in their basements any more.

And you've suggested that Syria and its allies are guilty of war crimes. Flesh that out for me, if you will. Are you particularly and specifically

accusing them of such?

[14:05:15] ZEID RA'AD AL HUSSEIN, UNITED NATIONS HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS: Well, if I can begin, Christiane, by just pointing out over

the last 24 hours, we have seen a lull in terms of the aerial raids in Eastern Aleppo. That is not to say that raids in other part of the

government have not taken place, they have.

But in Eastern Aleppo, we have a lull. What we are saying is that the aerial bombing as of the 22nd of October seemed to be of such an

indiscriminate nature, where a number of facilities have been struck, where civilians have borne the brunt of the damage essentially. Yes, that the

allegation is that this sort of bombing is very much in keeping with what we would consider to be war crimes to be proven later in a court. But

that's exactly what we're saying, yes.

AMANPOUR: And so what do you expect to be the tangible result of what you're saying? Do you expect the Syrians to stop? Do you expect the

Russians to stop?

AL HUSSEIN: Well, it's not that if we don't see a consequence, we shouldn't speak. I think we have a duty to speak out when we see this sort

of bombing. No matter where it may be taking place. Whether it's in Syria, in Yemen and Afghanistan, all parties to a conflict must of course

abide by international humanitarian law and we will call them out whoever the attacker may be.

The -- you know, even in conflict, there must be rules and civilian life must be spared to the greatest extent possible. Whether it has ultimately

an effect, we don't know. But, certainly, if we didn't speak, we couldn't expect any change in the approaches to this sort of aerial assault on

civilian targets. It seems to be indiscriminate in many cases.

AMANPOUR: Can I ask you, because you have gotten into some kind of a spat with Russia and the Russian government. A couple of weeks ago, I was in

Moscow and I presented to the foreign minister the picture of Omran Daqneesh, the little boy who became symbolic of the cruelty of what's

happening in Syria, the little boy with the dust and the blood all over his face that went viral all over the world.

And, obviously, the foreign minister told me that this was tragic. But, you know, refused to admit that there were war crimes being committed and

certainly that Russia was not targeting civilians.

So first and foremost, what is your answer to that?

AL HUSSEIN: In all cases, we expect that to be a rigorous investigation undertaken. And to, for it to be proven to us, that every, every measure

was taken to avoid civilian casualties when targeting a particular group or other.

And in the event that there is no investigation, then the allegation stands sort of basically unproven until we can get to a court of law, but the

suspicion is very much there that these sorts of crimes are being committed. And instead of entering into a debate with us, sort of telling

me that I should be speaking or I'm overstepping my mark, I think it's, it will be more proper for the investigations to take place and for evidence

to be presented to us showing us that, that every measure was taken to prevent civilian casualties again.

AMANPOUR: One of the reasons that the Russians apparently seem so mad at you particularly is because of a whole different speech that you gave, and

this was at a gala in The Hague not long ago.

And you were concerned about the rise of populism and demagogues across the world, in Europe and indeed in the United States. And this is one of the

things you said.

"What Mr. Wilders, talking about the head of the Netherlands' far right party, Geert Wilders, what he shares in common with Mr. Trump, Mr. Orban of

Hungary, Mr. Zeman, Mr. Hofer of Austria, Mr. Fico, Madame Le Pen of France, Mr. Farage, he also shares with Daesh. All seek in varying degrees

to recover a past, halcyon and so pure in form, where sunlit fields are settled by peoples united by ethnicity or religion -- living peacefully in

isolation, pilots of their fate, free of crime, foreign influence and war. A past that most certainly, in reality, did not exist anywhere, ever.

Europe's past, as we all know, was for centuries anything but that."

So there you are, basically, criticizing all of these far right and populist parties, including Trump and the Russians didn't like it at all.

[14:10:05] AL HUSSEIN: No, it's a very serious point. I was trying to be very clear that I didn't equate Daesh and the monstrous crimes with the

actions of the populists, what I was trying to say is that these populists use half-truths and over-simplification, to carry support, to win support

and place blame on a very distinct community.

And in the case of the populists, they're going after vulnerable communities for all the ills and all the pain and frustration that many

people feel in Europe and in the United States.

And it's inexcusable to do that. It's oversimplification, use of half- truths, and you and I served in the former Yugoslavia many years ago, we saw with our own eyes the consequences of these sorts of actions.

AMANPOUR: But I also ask Foreign Minister Lavrov, about what you had said and about their pursuing some kind of discipline against you. And this is

what he told me.


SERGEY LAVROV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN AFFAIRS MINISTER: His position is not about passing a ruling or passing judgment on sovereign states. His position is

protect, is to protect human rights. And this does not involve intervention in domestic affairs. It does not involve giving

characteristics to foreign leaders.


AMANPOUR: What do you make of that? As a permanent member of the Security Council.

AL HUSSEIN: Yes, yes, and Sergey Lavrov is an official and dare I say also a friend who I respect greatly. But here I would beg to differ.

The relevant article in the U.N. charter, Article 27, which essentially prevents the U.N. from intervening in the domestic affairs of state has to

be read in its proper context.

Intervene means when it plans to take coercive measures or coercive measures are undertaken. Criticism of the conduct of a government, its

policies, does not in our reading, fit that description.

So I see it well within my mandate as given to me, to offer critical comment when I need to. And also, to offer encouragement when I should do

so. And so I don't see that I'm overstepping my mark on this.

AMANPOUR: One of the things that apparently seemed to get the Russians riled up was that you mentioned Donald Trump. And obviously you know we

exist in an environment where certainly the United States intelligence agencies have determined that Russia is interfering in the U.S. democratic

process on behalf of Donald Trump, or at least against Hillary Clinton.

AL HUSSEIN: To be honest on this, I have -- I mean, the Russian permanent representative did say that he objected to comments I made regarding

certain leaders. He denies that I, that he raised Trump as one of them. But I have expressed my concerns about Donald Trump and what he has said

about possibly bringing back torture, which is clearly prohibited in the convention against torture. And other things that he has said, which

raises dangers and threats to the human rights of many people should he act on them and were he to be elected president. And so I've been open about

those issues, too.

AMANPOUR: On that note, High Commissioner Zeid, thank you very much for joining us from the United Nations in New York.

AL HUSSEIN: Thank you very much, Christiane.


AMANPOUR: And, of course, back to Aleppo, the incredible resilience of people, especially the youngest in the direst situation never ceases to

amaze. Amid the horror of their city, Aleppo, this group is trying to brighten up their ruined city, creating murals and coloring these walls.

Still standing amidst the rubble.

When we come back, we know the heartbreaking stories of the war refugees, but not so much about the very lucrative industry thriving on their

desperation. That amazing insight, next, after this break.


[14:15:55] AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.

As the biggest movement of people since World War II continues around the world, as people smugglers have been preying on desperate refugee and

migrants for decades. During the post-Soviet exodus of migrants seeking better livelihoods in Europe, I encountered in Italy, women who fell into

the sex trade and I spoke to a trafficker who had sold them, helped them get there.


AMANPOUR: So how much would you buy a girl for and then how much would you sell her on for?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The price depends on their age and how good-looking they are. Obviously, we wanted to buy low and sell high.

AMANPOUR: How much would a beautiful, young girl cost?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We bought pretty girls for about $1,000. We sold them for about $2,000.

AMANPOUR: Are you married?


AMANPOUR: You have a daughter?


AMANPOUR: You have a sister?


AMANPOUR: Would you have allowed any of these women to become prostitutes?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would rather be killed.


AMANPOUR: It's still shocking to hear those words after all these years. But it is the cynical reality of what happens to so many migrants and

refugees. The UNHCR says that 2016 is now the deadliest year for migrants crossing the Mediterranean. These crossings are arranged by people

smugglers who have grown mighty rich on this huge and growing business as I discovered from journalists and researcher Peter Tinti and Tuesday Reitano.

They are authors of a new book "Migrant, Refugee, Smuggler, Savior."


AMANPOUR: Welcome, both of you. Thanks for joining us.

You know, "Migrant, Refugee, Smuggler, Savior," savior, that is a provocative word to describe these people traffickers. Why did you decide

to follow them?

PETER TINTI, CO-AUTHOR, "MIGRANT, REFUGEE, SMUGGLER, SAVIOR": Well, we wanted to follow them so that we could better understand the actors who

were facilitating this unprecedented flow. So much had been written and reported about the plight of the migrants and refugees. And the

itineraries of their journeys. But relatively little had been investigated regarding who exactly is facilitating these flows. And as you say savior

is a provocative term there. However using the broad term of trafficker is also I think equally un-nuanced.

TUESDAY REITANO, CO-AUTHOR, "MIGRANT, REFUGEE, SMUGGLER, SAVIOR": While I was living in Lebanon while we were writing this book in Beirut and we were

seeing Syrian refugees coming out, pouring out, looking for lives, looking for opportunities, finding themselves mired in really dismal circumstances

with very few prospects and looking for a future and the international community wasn't offering that. They were not providing proper support to

the refugees in camps. So the only way to find an opportunity was to go irregularly and the only people who were going to help were smugglers.

AMANPOUR: But I want to read you this from Mansour, who is a Libyan smuggler. From your book, when Mansour first got into the business of

smuggling people in 2013, he was loading boats with Syrians who paid a premium for his services.

Now in 2015, with Syrians preferring alternate routes to Europe, Mansour's business is predicated on volume. And he loads any vessel he can with as

many Africans as he can find.

How is it changing, this sort of supply and demand?

TINTI: Sure. Well, one thing we found is that the demand among Syrians for smuggler services really helped build this criminal infrastructure that

facilitated the movement of Syrians. They were a community and a Diaspora that could afford to pool resources at a level that many other migrant

communities could not.

Once they then -- once this infrastructure was built upon Syrian demand, smugglers then realizing that they had this tremendous opportunity, started

recruiting and seeking other clients. And often filling the gap were Sub- Saharan Africans who couldn't necessarily afford the same types of migrant- smuggling schemes. So smugglers then adapted and provided cheaper or more dangerous and less bespoke packages that put these migrants at tremendous


[14:20:13] REITANO: And if I may, the reason why we felt that it was important to capture the dynamic around people smuggling is that we don't

understand how it works. It came as a real surprise to the international community and a lot of the front-line refugee agencies to find on the back

of the Syrians, came Afghans, Pakistanis, Gambians, Senegalese, and they didn't understand the dynamic of why.

And an enormous number of people who came as a result, 50 percent of them are non-Syrian, was what overwhelmed the demand. It's what caused these

horrible situations that you're seeing in Calais and into many -- it's the economic migrants that -- it was the demand that was built up by the

smuggling networks themselves.

AMANPOUR: So you distinguish the war refugees and the economic migrants. They sort of jumped on the back of this bandwagon.

REITANO: Well, they were pulled on the back of this bandwagon by the smuggling industry that was designed to facility mass transit.

AMANPOUR: And by the way, we have a map of the incredible number of routes now which we're going to put up. I mean, coming from all over, as you say,


REITANO: And I think it's to say it's not that those routes and those journeys didn't exist before but in the industry professionalized. It


I mean, there were tentacles of the smuggling industry all there waiting to be enlivened, to gather up this people through the gateway that Libya

presented at the time.

TINTI: And information travels in real-time. So when certain borders close, migrants know immediately because they're communicating with each

other and smugglers are, too. There's message boards. There's WhatsApp and Facebook groups.

AMANPOUR: And you even mention in your book how, you know, the smugglers have it all organized that they get some PayPal account. I don't know.

That means the refugees or the migrants are having to pay them immediately. They've got all that sewn up as well, right?

TINTI: Absolutely. There are third-party brokers who will act as guarantors and there's even migrant escrow accounts in which --

REITANO: QR codes are being issued to the migrants. They're going to check in at various legs on the way and money dispersed leg by leg.

One thing we would say is that the barriers in which the industry. I mean, it was precisely because walls were built that smugglers became more and

more necessary as the duration of this crisis has gone on. Things like warships changed the business model, changed the nature of the game.


AMANPOUR: Warships because?

REITANO: Because -- well, the warships that were deployed in the Mediterranean ostensibly to stop smuggling actually reduced the difficulty

for the smugglers.

AMANPOUR: So made it easier?

REITANO: Made it much easier because they would just put the boats out to get people rescued, rather than actually try to cross the whole 160

nautical miles from Libya.

AMANPOUR: I mean, they put enough fuelling that they would get within spitting distance of a naval vessel.

REITANO: Yes. Migrants were going without a captain. They were given a cell phone and told travel three hours this way, then call the coast guard.

AMANPOUR: Did you come to any conclusion after all the research you did as to how this might be a better process? How perhaps these people, you know,

didn't get so enriched in such a business way on the backs of these very, very desperate people? Did you come to any conclusions for the future?

REITANO: I mean, certainly better migration management, providing more safe and legal options. And this is a phrase that is repeated a lot by the

humanitarian and refugee community would reduce the demand for smugglers, where people can move by themselves. They don't need a smuggler. They

only need them as barriers get higher.

Certainly, we concluded that relying on enforcement efforts and securitized approaches and militarized approaches largely is very detrimental. You end

up with a far more criminalized industry when the demand is so high.

AMANPOUR: So thank you very much, Peter Tinti, Tuesday Reitano. "Migrant, Refugee, Smuggler, Savior," your new book. Thanks for joining us.

REITANO: Thank you.

TINTI: Thank you.


AMANPOUR: And when we come back, some success stories from Iraq as local forces close in on Mosul.

Next, we imagine the tears of joy and the sounds of church bells returning to the region.


[14:25:00] AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, imagine this world of forgotten sounds returning to Iraq.


AMANPOUR: Those are the bells of Bartella, ringing out jubilantly this week after the town, east of Mosul, was freed from two years of ISIS

occupation. It is a Christian town and the local priest has returned joyfully to his church. While his wife was so overcome to be home again,

her cheers rang through the streets just as loudly as the bells. As she threw sweets to the Iraqi forces who made that possible.

Tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been persecuted and forced to flee when ISIS took hold of the region back in 2014. Many of their young

girls were forced into marriage and sex slavery for ISIS fighters. For many years, the numbers of Christians have been dwindling in the Middle


In Iraq alone, there are around a million fewer Christians than they were 15 years ago. On this day at least, the news is good, for Christians,

Muslims and all those who have been liberated from ISIS so far.

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

Facebook and Twitter. Thank you for watching and good-bye from London.