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Anti-ISIS Coalition Fights to Take Raqqa; Death of Otto Warmbier "A Crime Against Humanity"; World Refugee Population Hits Record High; "Destination Unknown" Finds 12 New Voices to Expose the Horrors of the Holocaust

Aired June 22, 2017 - 14:00:00   ET


[14:00:00] CLARISSA WARD, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, a historic mosque in Mosul is blown up. The Iraqi prime minister says it's a mark of defeat for ISIS.

CNN's Arwa Damon on the significance of the destruction.

Also ahead, the funeral takes place for American student Otto Warmbier, who died after being released from a North Korean jail. Bill Richardson who

worked to free Warmbier reacts.

And around the world. More people than ever are displaced from their homes. We look at possible solutions with the IRC President David


Good evening and welcome to the program. I'm Clarissa Ward in for Christiane Amanpour.

Islamic State fighters destroyed the 800-year-old al-Nuri mosque yesterday according to the Iraqi army. The destruction comes as coalition forces

tighten the news on Mosul's old city, where ISIS is making its last stand.

The terror group says U.S. warplanes are responsible. A claim U.S. officials call a thousand percent false. It was inside al-Nuri that ISIS

leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared the founding of a new caliphate in his only public appearance almost three years ago to the day, July 4th, 2014.

CNN's Arwa Damon has made more trips to both Iraq and Syria than she can count. She joins me now from Istanbul.

Arwa, tell us first of all, what is the sequence of this -- what is the significance of this? And of course, as well, do we know for certain who

was responsible for destroying the mosque?

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We don't at this stage, Clarissa. But for the U.S. military to say that they are a thousand

percent sure that they are not responsible for it, given that they very rarely make statements that are that definitive, you can be fairly certain

that at least they did not destroy it. Although, of course, ISIS is blaming the coalition for this.

In terms of significance, as you were saying, there, it's very symbolic. It is where al-Baghdadi made that speech. But when we talk about the

bigger battle against ISIS, especially inside Mosul in this last-remaining stronghold that they have of the old city, it is fully expected to be much

more difficult and much more potentially devastating and dangerous for the civilian population that remains trapped there because it's the old city.

It's historic. The buildings are not necessarily structurally sound.

So even when families try to keep themselves safe by hiding in basements or underneath staircases, the explosions caused much more damage in this

particular part of Mosul than in other places.

And, of course, as we know, only too well, ISIS does not allow the civilian population to flee. They use them as human shields. And so many people

are so rightfully concerned that what we have already seen ISIS do is going to pale in comparison to what it is going to do as it tries to hold on to

this last remaining portion of Mosul.

WARD: And just give us a sense, because the reports we've been hearing from the U.S. and other bodies about the toll on civilians throughout this

mission to take back Mosul, I mean, it's just been crippling.

DAMON: It has. And to put it the best way I can, I do not have the words to describe what it is that people have gone through and even they

themselves struggle to begin to adequately and accurately describe the emotions of what it was like to first live under ISIS, and then have the

fighting raging around them, not to be allowed to leave.

Families who can't protect their children, especially as this news has been getting tighter. In Mosul, things like food have been running out. So

when we were most recently inside the city itself, people -- a few weeks ago, people who had just fled from these neighborhoods around the old city

of Mosul. We're saying that they were feeding their children flour mixed in with water and people who try to flee get shot.

ISIS massacred in just one particular instance around 70 people in a field as they were trying to flee, deliberately sniping them and among them were

children, the elderly, women. There was absolutely no discrimination whatsoever. I mean, just try to imagine and you really can't what it is

these people have gone through and continue to go through.

WARD: And, of course, Iraq is really only half the battle. The focus now is shifting to Raqqa and Syria. The self-declared capital of the


[14:05:00] What was your experience? You were just there in and around Raqqa. What did you find?

DAMON: Yes. We were on the outskirts of Raqqa and throughout the course of our very brief time there, we met a number of women. Some of whom were

married to either ISIS fighters or ISIS members. And then one woman in particular who was actually leaving one of the units said it's fighting

against ISIS, these coalition-backed units fighting against ISIS inside the city.


DAMON (voice-over): The coalition- backed Syrian Defense Forces have managed to clear the first few neighborhoods of Raqqa. Outside the city,

we ran into Clara Raqqa, one of the unit commanders here and a native of the city itself just back from one of the fronts.

CLARA RAQQA, SYRIAN DEFENSE FORCES UNIT COMMANDER (through translator): In the city, we can see that the city of Raqqa is above ground and there is

another city below ground. Raqqa was a city that was a mosaic of people that turned into a place of women's enslavement, the place where women were

enslaved has to be liberated by the hands of women.

DAMON: It's a city whose brutality transcends our current vocabulary, ruled by ISIS since 2013, where Yazidi Kurds and even Arab women were sold

on the streets as sex slaves; where public executions and beheadings were a regular occurrence; where journalists and aid workers were held hostage and


These are the faces of those who lived in Raqqa now in a hastily put together camp, children who have little choice but to witness the stuff of

nightmares. The lines of good and evil blurred for them.

This woman from Raqqa married an ISIS member; a foreigner from the Caucasus who she says had an administrative job.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): ISIS made a mockery of us. There is nothing else we can say.

(on-camera): When they were running away, they say that they were also fired upon by ISIS fighters who were basically ordering them to return.

DAMON (voice-over): And then there are also those who went willingly to join. It became a magnet for foreign fighters and others. This woman is

from the Caucasus. She came with her husband and four children claiming they wanted to live in the caliphate. She says they were lured online by

the promise of Islamic utopia and a job for her husband.

This Syrian woman is originally from Homs. She was an English teacher. She eventually married a Moroccan man who went through ISIS military training

although she claims he never fought. ISIS, she says, never allowed the population to escape their brutality.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, when you walk on the streets of Raqqa, there are big screens that are showing beheadings. They have, you know, the

projectors and we are walking in the streets and just watching these videos.

DAMON (on-camera): How are you going to explain this to your children?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I pray for God to -- that my children forget this without asking me. They are all the time thinking about war, about killing

and they see a video of cutting heads.

DAMON (voice-over): The battle for the ISIS capital has just begun and what lies ahead is unknown for those who are fighting to liberate it, and

for the civilians who are still trapped inside.

Arwa Damon, CNN, (INAUDIBLE), Syria.


DAMON: And, Clarissa, in Raqqa, just as is the case in Mosul, there are great, great concerns for the civilian population, around 100,000 people

still believed to be trapped there.

WARD: No end in sight. Arwa Damon, your reporting from Mosul has been some of the bravest and the most compassionate. Thank you so much for

joining us.

Now, on Thursday, the family and friends of former North Korean prisoner Otto Warmbier said good-bye.

The 22-year-old's funeral was held at his high school in Ohio. He had endured 17 months of detention by Kim Jong-un's regime before he was sent

home from Pyongyang in a vegetative state. He died on Monday.

President Donald Trump described Warmbier as the latest victim of North Korea's brutality.

Earlier this week, I spoke to Bill Richardson who had worked for warm bier's release.


WARD: I just want to start out by asking, this is such a tragic, tragic story. But how is it that Otto fell into this coma and that nobody knew

about it?

BILL RICHARDSON, WORKED TO SECURE RELEASE OF OTTO WARMBIER: Well, the North Koreans engaged in a cover-up. They didn't want to tell anybody.

They had close to a year where he was in a coma. They gave a false excuse. Botulism with a sleeping pill. That's been discredited.

It's wrong. It's a crime against humanity. They probably didn't want to face the music that the boy, 21 years old, was in a coma. And they hope

possibly that he was going revive.

But the issue is, was he tortured? Was he abused? This is a real human rights violation.

WARD: And give us a sense, because I know that you and others were heavily involved in securing his release.

What did this entail?

RICHARDSON: Well, this entailed 20 meetings with the North Koreans in New York in the last year. U.N. representatives from North Korea. They never

told us about Otto's condition. They kept stalling on whether I could go and get Otto back. My delegation from my foundation went there and -- to

North Korea and was not able to even see Otto.

They obviously were engaged in a massive cover-up. The tragedy is that there are three more Americans there and one Canadian that are detained,

that are being used as bargaining chips. If the North Koreans are smart, they'd release those three unconditionally and then publicly talk about

what happened to Otto.

WARD: What made them change their mind and decide to release Otto after more than a year in captivity? What broke through?

RICHARDSON: Well, I believe the State Department pushing very hard; private groups like mine pushing very hard; international press attention;

the family talking to the press. The Warmbiers, a wonderful family.

I think the North Koreans realized they should cut their losses and return Otto, they said on humanitarian grounds. What they didn't tell anybody was

his condition, that he was in a coma. That possibly he had been cruelly treated and this is a huge black mark on the North Koreans. I know they

have plenty already. But I think there should be international outrage at this.

WARD: And you mentioned those three other Americans and Canadian who are still being held

Do you have any sense of what their fate is or how their condition is?

RICHARDSON: Well, as I said, if the North Koreans are smart, they would release them unconditionally immediately, but they are not prone to doing

smarter things that are humanitarian.

The American diplomat apparently met with the detainees. He saw them. He was given access to them. So hopefully they're OK. But we don't know.

We don't know with this regime. We don't know how they've been treated.

WARD: So what should the repercussions be for North Korea? You talk about international outrage but is that enough?

RICHARDSON: Well, I would not be opposed if my own country and the international community, if the United Nations imposes more sanctions on

the North Koreans, banking sanctions.

That China should step up and do more. They're not doing enough to pressure North Korea. They have major leverage on North Korea. They give

them food; they trade with them; economic assistance. 80 percent of commerce from -- into North Korea goes from China. They give them coal and

oil. Lean on them to stop this outrageous behavior, not just with missile tests, but also humanitarian. This is not right what has happened to this

young man, but it involves a lot of other violations of human rights in North Korea.

WARD: Ambassador Richardson, thank you so much for being on the program.

RICHARDSON: Thank you.


WARD: After a break, we turn our attention to those fleeing chaos and conflict.

What the head of the International Rescue Committee David Miliband told me on World Refugee Day. That's next.


[14:15:30] WARD: Welcome back to the program.

More people are displaced from their homes around the world now than at any point in history. That's according to a new report from the United Nations

on the global refugee crisis.

The numbers are staggering. Almost 66 million people are displaced. More than 10 million people were newly displaced just last year. That's about

20 new people displaced each minute. And more than half of the world's refugees are children under 18 years of age.

Most of the refugees come from three countries -- Syria, Afghanistan and South Sudan. Driven from their home by a toxic mix of war, hunger and


In South Sudan alone, that number tops 3 million people, roughly a quarter of the population.

David Miliband is president and CEO of the International Rescue Committee. He's just back from South Sudan and Uganda investigating conditions on the

ground. I spoke to him from New York.


WARD: David Miliband, thank you so much for being on the program.

I mean, those statistics are just staggering. They are kind of mind- boggling. You've now been leading the IRC for four years.

Give us a sense of how much the landscape has shifted in those four years.


I think that there are two major elements for people to understand. First is indeed the staggering numbers. One in every 110 people on the planet

now displaced by conflict or persecution around the world.

Secondly, I think perhaps less understood is that the conditions that these people are living in, more and more of those of urban displacement, not

camp-based settings.

These are people who are living in Kampala. They are living in Beirut. They are living in Amman, Jordan. And they are displaced for a very long

time. The average refugee after their own country for about ten years. And that's why this is a challenge not just to the individual's concern,

it's also a challenge to the whole humanitarian aid system. That doesn't just need to do more aid, at least do better and different kinds of aid if

it's to meet the needs of these people.

WARD: And you've just returned obviously from South Sudan, which is mentioned as one of the countries with the highest amount of displaced


I think we hear a lot about Syria. We hear quite a bit about Afghanistan. We hear less about South Sudan. Give us a sense of the complexity of that


MILIBAND: Well, South Sudan is the world's newest nation. And as you say is now gone into the top three of the lead table for the displacement of

refugees. Over a million have arrived in Uganda next door over the last 11 months. So that's a tidal wave of misery that has come across the border.

The country has obviously been driven apart by a civil conflict that has claimed tens and thousands of lives, but it's also an incredibly poor

country, a country also that's being affected or afflicted by climate change.

The people that I met are frankly desperate. They are fleeing for their lives, as you said. And when I asked them whether or not they could ever

conceive going home, they sadly shook their heads and said that the violence was so bad that they were going to stay in Uganda as far as they

could see.

Now the remarkable thing is that the Ugandans are determined to be welcoming hosts. They are providing a lesson to many western countries who

are putting up barriers in the face of only tens of thousands of refugees whereas the Ugandans have gone a million.

And I think that we need to take that Ugandan example. Understand that if a poor country like Uganda with the average income of only $962 per head,

per year, if that country can be a generous host for refugees, then the rest of us need to up our game as well, both providing aid to countries

like Uganda so they are able to cope with the inflow, but also welcoming the most vulnerable to our own shores.

WARD: I guess, you know, that sort of ties in with what my next question would be, which is, you know, what are we to learn from World Refugee Day?

We hear these staggering statistics. A lot of people don't know how to help and don't understand what needs to be done. What, in your mind, what

actions need to be taken?

MILIBAND: Well, I think there's one thing for the diplomats. The world of peacekeeping, peacemaking and peace building needs to be renovated in the

way that the new secretary general of the U.N. Antonio Guterres has been describing, better at prevention. So we've got to tackle this problem


[14:20:00] But downstream, there is a role for governments and for individuals in responding to this refugee crisis. In countries that do

have refugees arriving and the U.S. for example still has refugees arriving despite the Trump administration's attempt to install a ban, there's local

activity that's important.

But I also think it's important to speak up for the charities that are operating on the front line in countries where millions of refugees are

seeking shelter, countries like Uganda where I've just been. And it's the work of those charities in the front line dealing with extremely

challenging circumstances.

I want your viewers to know that the world food program has had to cut the Russians to South Sudanese in Uganda from 12 kilograms a month of maize and

sorghum to just 6 kilograms because of budget funding cuts.

And at a time when governments are in retreat, the U.S. government threatening a 30 percent cut in its foreign aid -- for foreign aid

commitments, I think there is a role for citizens of the west and the world to stand up and say that they want to be counted.

WARD: You mentioned that cut. I wanted to ask you about that next.

What kind of an impact is the Trump administration's decision to roll back on this aid? What kind of an impact is that having or likely to have?

MILIBAND: Well, thank goodness the proposal of the Trump administration is not yet a decision. In the U.S., the U.S. Congress has its say, but the

administration is proposing a 31 percent cut in its foreign aid entitlements -- in its foreign aid commitments, I beg your pardon. And

this means not just the U.S. will relinquish its place as a leader of the global humanitarian system, it means dire consequences for the kind of

people that the International Rescue Committee and other charities serve around the world.

It would mean, for example, having the education commitments that are made already a sliver of the budget. It means a rollback on the commitments to

the world food program and food distribution. I think it's 40 percent cut.

I means that the most vulnerable, including women and girls, would see a having of the kind of protections, the minimal protections they are

currently given. And I think there's a real responsibility on the U.S. Congress to stand up and say that the administration's proposals would be

bad at the best of times, but at the worst of times, when there are 66 million people displaced by conflict around the world, it's a disgrace to

be thinking that a rich country like the U.S. should be rolling back its foreign aid commitments.

WARD: David Miliband, as always thank you so much for your analysis.

When we come back, imagine the voices of the past rising up to warn us of the dangers of intolerance and extremism. We get a sneak preview of the

new film giving a fresh perspective on the holocaust. That's next.


WARD: And finally tonight, we imagine a new documentary providing perspectives on one of the world's greatest atrocities. "Destination

Unknown" finds 12 new voices to expose the horrors of the holocaust. We spoke to the film's focus, 92-year-old holocaust survivor Ed Mosberg, who

alongside the film's producer and director told us his story.


ED MOSBERG, HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR: The whole world knew about it, no one say nothing. My two sisters and a sister of my wife with 7,000 other girls,

one night they were lined up alongside the Baltic Sea and just shot with the machine gun.

How can we forget or forgive? Only the dead can forgive.

I have to go and talk and talk as long as I live. I don't forget. I don't forget the bad things and I don't forget the good things, OK?

I faced death many times. I don't forget. When I was laying on the floor and one of them took the rifle to shoot me and the other knockout the rifle

out of his hand to not kill the young boy.

CLAIRE FERGUSON, DIRECTOR, DESTINATION UNKNOWN: This is not a film about history; this is a film about now. It's a film about tolerance and in a

world of intolerance, of global intolerance, which is why ever more this film is needed.


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

and Twitter @ClarissaWard.

Thank you and good-bye from London.