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Migrants report horrifying stories of kidnappings and slavery; Special report with President of the International Rescue Committee. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired December 29, 2017 - 14:00:00   ET


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Tonight, a special program on freedom and slavery. That dark chapter in human history is still playing out in

northern Africa. In Libya, our team of journalist discovered something unimaginable, slave auctions. We'll have their special report and my

conversation with the former British Foreign Secretary, the President of the International Rescue Committee, David Miliband.

Good evening everyone and welcome to this special program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London with the world view. It was the expose that shifted the

global agenda. Our team lead by reporter, Nama Albagia, discovered young men being sold like cattle at auction in Libya. It's been a failed state

since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi. And it's become a choke point on the deadly trail of migration from Sub-Saharan in Africa over the Mediterranean

to Italy.

Migrants carry horrifying stories of beatings, kidnappings, and yes, even slavery. The reports sparked outrage across the globe and protest on the

streets of Paris, London, and New York. The International Organization for Migration says that because of this reporting the dam has burst on this

issue. Governments from the UK, to France, and Africa its self have condemned it and they're demanding action from the UN and repaid creation

efforts have already begun. As I said, it all began with this game changing report in November from our team lead by correspondent, Nama



NAMA ALBAGIA, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A man addressing an unseen crowd. Big strong boys for farm work, he says 400, 700, 700, 800

the numbers role in. These men are sold for 1,200 Libyan pounds, 400 dollars a piece. And you are watching an auction of human beings. Another

man claiming to be a buyer, off camera someone asked, what happened to the ones from Nazar? Sold off, he's told. CNN was sent this footage by a


After months of working, we were able to verify the authenticity of what you see here. We decided to travel to Libya to try and see for ourselves.

Where now in Tripoli and we're starting to get a little bit more of a sense of how this all works. Our contacts are telling us that there are one to

two of there auctions every month and that there is one happening in the next few hours. So we're going to head out of town and see if we can get

some sort of access to it.

For the safety of our contacts, we have agreed not to divulge the location of this auction. But the town we're diving to is the only one. Night

falls, we travel through nondescript suburban neighborhoods, pretending to look for a missing person. Eventually, we stop outside a house like any

other. Adjust our secret camera and wait.

Finally, it's time to move. We're ushered in to one of two actions happening on this same night. Crouched at the back of the yard, a flood

light obscuring much of this scene, one by one man are forced out as the bidding begins 400, 500, 550, 600, 650, 700, very quickly it is over. We

ask if we can speak to the men, the auctioneer seen here refuses. We ask again if we can speak to them, we can help them, no he says. The auction

is over with and we're asked to leave. That was over very quickly.


We walked in an as soon as we walked in, and as soon as we walked in, the men started covering their faces. But they clearly wanted to finish what

they were doing. And they kept bringing out, what they kept referring to in Arabic as, albadayie as the merchandise. All in all, they admitted to

us that there are 12 Nigerians that were sold in front of us. And I - I honestly don't know what to say, that was probably one of the most

unbelievable things I've ever seen. These men are migrants who dreams of being smuggled to Europe by sea.

They come in their thousands, from Nigeria, Mally, Nigeria, Gana. It's hard to believe that these are the lucky ones rescued from warehouses like

the one in which we witnessed the auction. They're sold if those warehouses become over crowded or if they run out of money to pay their

smugglers. Of these rescued men, so many here say they were held against their will. It doesn't take us long to find victory, victory was a slave.

We know that some people are being sold.


ALBAGIA: Some people are being sold.


ALBAGIA: Is this something you've heard about? Can you tell us about that?


ALBAGIA: Tell us.


ALBAGIA: What happened?

On the way here I was sold. They beat us, If you look at most of the people here, you check our bodies, you see the marks. They are beating

with electric, (ph) sharp object, do you understand? Most lost their lives there. I was there, the person who came to get me, gave them my money.

They take me out me home. So the money was not even much.

ALBAGIA: Other migrants now start to come forward with their stories.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They took people to work by force.. Even where we are at this time, where we at? Where we at? What can you work? Because I

promise you, I will take your work.

ALBAGIA: Anas Alazabi (ph) is the supervisor here. With no international support, it's his job to look after the captured migrants. He says,

everyday brings fresh heartbreak.

ALAZABI (ph): I am suffering for them. I am suffering for them. What they have seen here today may - believe me, it makes me really feel pain.

They come and every story is a special case. they were abusing them. They stole their money.

ALBAGIA: Have you heard about people being auctioned off? About migrants being sold?

ALAZABI (ph): Honestly, we hear the rumors but there is nothing that's obvious in terms of us. We don't evidence.

ALBAGIA: But we now do. CNN has delivered this evidence to the Libyan authorities who have promised to launch an investigation. So that scenes

like this, are returned to past. NIMA ALBAGIA, CNN Libya.


AMANPOUR: Now the head of the UN's migration agency, William Lacy Swing, has been following this awful phenomenon for months as well. And even saw

the horrors for himself in Libya and he's been trying to push officials there to improve their treatment of migrants. Particularly those in the

detention centers like the ones we saw in Nima's report. Here's what he told me about that.



Because we're trying to support migrants throughout the world, and when I see - look let's just take some figures. We lost 5,000 people in the

Mediterranean last year; we've lost all ready 2,816 as of today which is a higher percentage relative to arrivals than last year.

And that doesn't - we don't know how many other people are buried on the bottom of the sea, or lost in the sands of the Sahara. And it doesn't have

to be that way, but we don't have the right policies in many countries and it's putting migrants' lives in danger. And more people are dying than

should normally die, along the migratory routes.

AMANPOUR: What right policies should be in place to avoid this situation?


SWING: Look, we've created an organization right here in Geneva, The World Trade Organization, responsible for the free flow of capital goods and

services. Now it's people who make all of that happen, and I'm not talking about a borderless world, but I'm talking about using our policies much

more creatively and resourcefully. People can be given temporary protective status.

There can be short term work visas, short term student visas. There can be a resettlement of options, reunification of families. There are many ways

to deal with this issue. And given the demography that we know about, the medium age of people in Algiers is 14, in Western Europe is 47 so we know

that demographic forces are there, in addition to climate change. So we just have to examine our policies and say, what is the humane and

responsible thing to do?

AMANPOUR: Now the issue of migrants and refugees has become especially toxic in American and throughout Europe over the past couple of years.

It's been used as a political football in countries like Germany, France and the Netherlands. Amid a populous serge, governments are reluctant to

take in more refugees, and the crisis is bound to get worse in the coming year.

On a related issue in the United States, in the last few weeks, the Supreme Court upheld President Trump's latest travel ban from six Muslim countries

while it makes it's way through the lower courts. But the former British Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, who's now head of the New York based

International Rescue Committee, says the band won't make us safer or solve the migrant issue. We talked about that and his new book "Rescue, Refugees

and the Political Prices of our Time" we met here in the studio.


David Miliband, welcome.


AMANPOUR: President Trump has a sort of a victory in that the Supreme Court has said, yes, his ban can stand for the moment. And they come from

countries that are all Muslim and many of them are the kind of countries in deep humanitarian crisis. The kind of place that - you know spew forth

refugees. What do you think in that?

MILIBAND: No, we've got our teams in all those places. Syria, Libya, Chan, the important thing I think is not whether or not this policy is

Constitutionally viable. It's whether it's good policy. And I'm clear, for any reasons, this is bad policy. It's dangerous for America, as well

as, being bad for the displaced people who are trying to get a chance to restart their lives.

We know that President Trump has axed the refugee resettlement programs 90,000 a year, to a maximum of 45,000 and the latest figures that we've

got, The International Rescue Committee, we resettle refugees in America as well as helping them around the world through humanitarian aid, is that the

Americans may only do 15,000 resettled refugees this year. So, it's the slow strangulation of the program. And it's dangerous for America because

it's effectively turning it's back on a whole section of the global population.

AMANPOUR: It's really tough this one because, you know, you can see it as kind of populous anti immigrant politics sweeping the West right now. It's

not just America, it's Europe as well. How do you bring a electric along? You know, people who may believe in all the values of human rights know

that there societies are built on immigrants and immigration. How do you convince them that actually this is good for the country and it's not going

to lead us to some crazy guy in a - in a van who plows in to a side walk and kills people.

MILIBAND: Well, I think there are two things really. The first is that you've got to say we know everyone can't come. This isn't an open house

for everybody and distinguishing between economic immigrants who are trying to start a new life for economic reason, and people who are fleeing for

their lives. The baker from (ph) whose house is bombed. The girl who's chased out of her school by boko haram. These people fleeing for their

lives, literally.

And making sure that that integrity - of the definition of a refugee is clear and is properly adjudicated. That's absolutely vital to making this

really possible. The second thing that I think is really important is that we recognize that the need to be work at both ends of the refugee crisis.

Both in the countries that still sheltering most refugees, after all, the top ten refugee hosting countries are not Britain, American, France. They

are Kenya, Ethiopia, Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, these are relatively poor and lower middle income countries and within the effective humanitarian aids

system as well.

AMANPOUR: So "Rescue" is your book. And you're writing it, not just as the President of the IRC, but also as a Former Foreign Minister. I say

that because clearly you have policy in your experience and background. So what - what are the solutions?

MILIBAND: Well, the biggest argument I make here is that the refugee crisis is not insoluble. It's not unmanageable. Give refugee hosting

states big macro economic support. The Jordan's, the Lebanon's, the Kenyans, the Ethiopians, give them the proper support that recognized that

10 years of a displacement refugee is a responsibility that they're discharging but let the refugees work so their contribution to society.

Secondly, half of all refugees are kids, yet less that two percent of the global humanitarian budget goes on education. That is a global scandal

that needs to be address because you've got a whole generation being lost. Third, what are - refugees need more than anything else? Not tents, not

food, they need cash because 60 percent of refugees are living in urban areas.


MILIBAND: And then the fourth element of the rescue package is that the West and countries, richer countries, because gulf countries too, have got

to take in the most vulnerable refugees. It's a symbolic statement but also a substantial statement to stand with those countries that are hosting

the most refugees.

AMANPOUR: I mean, you are in short, proposing a total revolution in how one deals with refugees. No longer the big sprawling tams, people settled

in tents or even in metal containers. You talk about -

MILIBAND: - And I say that the refugees camps und up being funeral homes for dreams. And that's the tragedy. My own view now is that we've got to

recognize that there's a fiction to believe that the refugees are going home anytime soon. It's a fiction that's convenient for the West because

it allows them to do short term aide, rather than address the substantive issue.

And sometimes it's convenient for the refugee hosting counties. The central fact that I'd like your viewers to remember is that the average

refugee is displaced from their own home, not for 10 week or 10 months, but 10 years. And once they've been displaced for five years that average goes

up to 21 years. We're talking about long term displacement and that's why, you're right, we do need a revolution. It's not just about keeping people

alive, it's about giving them the tools to thrive and actually make something of their lives.

AMANPOUR: And make something of the societies that they go in to.

MILIBAND: And contribute to them.

AMANPOUR: So, it's not just the 65 million or so refugees that are on the march around the world right now, which is the biggest since World War II,

but it's going to get bigger. Africa shows no sign of slowing down and -

MILIBAND: - Well, that is a great point. And remember it's 65 million refugees and internally displaced. There are 25 million refugees, 40

people like in Northeast Nigeria, internally displaces as a result of conflict. But your point is an absolutely great one. If this was just a

blip, if this was a one or two year phenomenon, we'd return to some sort of normal - where there were very few refugees.

You could say, OK we just have to get through this. But this is a trend and not a blip. The drivers of this, weak states that can't give political

voice to their own populations, a weaken divided international political system. Real chew melt within the Muslin majority world, about engagement

with different forms of Islam and later on its pluralism or purification that's the future of the Islamic world.

Those are long term trends, not short term trends, and that's why I describe in the book, this is a trend that we have to learn to live with.

And of course, that's even before climate change wreaks its havoc on people movement.

AMANPOUR: So, that brings us to something that CNN broke and has really effected the global agenda, and that's our Nama Albagia with the video

evidence and the reporting eye witness evidence of slave auctions in Libya. And that's caused a huge international discussion. How can this be in


MILIBAND: Well, you don't often hear this but credits to CNN, I mean they really do deserve - the bravery of your journalist right on the front line

really is something to behold. And you saw some of the pictures; it's a feature of globalization. I don't know if you noticed this national shirt

that someone was wearing on the previous clip. But I think -

AMANPOUR: - I shot by a cell phone.

MILIBAND: But, I shot by a call phone? What you've got is essentially impunity, for the people smugglers, and that is the great danger in the

modern world. That the impunity of some states is matched by the impunity of the people smugglers and there are 1,700 militias in Libya.

And that is a country that is desperately trying to regain some resemblance of stability, the Libyans themselves, we have got teams on the ground

helping Libyan people as well as aiming to help migrants and refugees who are trying to make a difference on the ground in the most desperate

humanitarian conditions. And then you've got people profiting out of it.

AMANPOUR: So, a lot - who really really do drill down on refugees, immigrants, migrations, the whole sort of global movement say that, you

know, you have to, sort of do Marshall Plans. Or give enough aid, money, whatever it is, infrastructure, structure to lets say Africa since that's

the focus right now. To, you know, stop the push factor, is that possible?

MILIBAND: Well, it's certainly true that we've got to think about certain countries whether in Africa or in the Middle East who need massive amounts

ahead. But remember what the Marshall Plan was, it wasn't just an aide plan, Marshall Plan was a political plan, a public private partnership.

And it was also a cultural, a planet cultural exchange.

So, unless you get all three elements in place, you're not going to have the benefit of the marshal plan. And the other thing about the Marshall

Plan, it was long term. It was thinking for the whole of the post war period. I'm running a large (ph), we're dependant on six to 12 months

grants and we're trying to solve long term problems, education, employment, abuse of woman and kids, with short term grants. That's the big change

that we need too. If we're able to match the means of the people, with an effective response.

AMANPOUR: And talking about long and short terms, how do you change people's views over the long term given the current, sort of, keeping of

abuse and demonization of foreigners of immigrants, of refugees all over the West that's happened. You've seen it in our populous politics, you

seen it in the elections. The proof is right there.

MILIBAND: Well, grievance politics is on the march but it's also the guys - I've see this in the US, for every person who is afraid of the refugee

who might move in next door, there's another America that says, well hang on, that's my heritage, hang on that's my neighbor, hang on that's my

fellow employee who's also a refugee. And we've got to - we mustn't back ourselves into the corner where we think, the whole of the Western world

hates refugees.

There are some people who do fall for the demonization, who are engaged in the Greek grievance politics. But there's also people who want to stand up

and I think we've got to be very clear that it is the values of the Western world that are a stake. If you go back to the end of the World War II, the

charter of the UN, combined, dictatorships and democracies were signing up to it.

Communist countries and capitalist countries, but they all signed up to the idea that respect for individual human rights was the foundation of, not

just adjust world community, but a stable one. And that's what we've got to uphold and if we trash our own history in the West, we trash our

interest and we trash our values and that's very dangerous.

AMANPOUR: David Miliband, thank you very much.

MILIBAND: Thank you very much.

AMANPOUR: As you can imagine, the exploitation of African migrants trying to reach Europe, isn't just about young men, but about young women too. In

Benin City in Nigeria women have been trapped by traffickers who use their faith against them. And we want to warn you, the accounts in this report

by our Arwa Damon are disturbing.

ARWA DAMON, CNN COORESPONDENT: (INAUDIBLE) blows on a leaf and places it on a bottle. She's come to the Chief Priest to guarantee safe passage to

Italy. She knows it's a dangerous journey, but she's desperate. Do you have kids?


DAMON: Are they going with you?


DAMON: But you must miss them? You'll miss them?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'll miss them, yes.

DAMON: The ritual will culminate in a Juju Oath. Where she'll pledge to repay the cost of travel to her sponsor in Europe. We're forbidden from

filming this final step so powerful said the priest, that when he finishes, if she breaks her promise, the spirit will appear in her dream and cut her.

Do you know how much you're going to have to pay back?


DAMON: She has put all her trust in her sponsor and her faith. And it's a potent combination that has sent a record number of Nigerian women to

Europe. The International Organization for Migration estimates, that in 2014 around 1,400 traveled. This past year, the numbers spiked to 11,000.

The vast majority come from here, Benin City where the economy runs on remittance from abroad. And women are regularly approach with false

promises. You trusted him?

SANDRA (ph), SEX TRAFFICKING VICTIM: Yes, very much. I trusted that most of the times - I don't even - there are some things I tell you I don't tell

my parents.

DAMON: Sandra is talking about her Deputy Pastor, who told her he had a vision from God that she traveled over seas. Then he said, his sister in

Russia could get her a job in a hair salon. Sandra went willingly, but for added insurance, she took items from her.

SANDRA (ph): My pants, my bra, the (ph) on the head, my armpit and my private part. He said that - it's a form about dreaming so that when I get

there I'm not going to run with the money.

DAMON: When she arrived in Russia, the sum was more than she could have ever imagined.

SANDRA (ph): Well the first thing she did, she took away my passport. That unless I finish paying her money, 45,000 dollars.

DAMON: 45,000 dollars?

SANDRA (ph): Yes, yes. That is what she said.

DAMON: And the only way to pay that off was prostitution. Bound by the spirits, in a strange city, for the next three years, Sandra's life was

hell. She lost count of the men per night, at times, 10 15 20 even more.

SANDRA (ph): At that process, most of Nigerian girls lost their lives because it's not every girl that can withstand the pressure of pending

DAMON: She thought about killing herself, if only to spare herself being killed.

SANDRA (ph): They were four - four or five in numbers. They asked me that if they need to sleep with me to make sure my (ph) and I told them I can't

do that.

DAMON: They pushed her out a second story window and she broke her wrist. But she didn't go to the authorities. The trafficker had given the items

he took from her to a priest in Nigeria and like so many she was afraid of the power of the Juju.


SANDRA (ph): It's like a danger to we girls so we're very careful - mostly when he do - he got to do with the sensitive part of your body. They might

use it against you.

DAMON: It took Sandra three years to pay off the dept.

SANDRA (ph): The wicked don't any place here, they have to face a lot.

DAMON: When she got back to (ph) city, she reported the man and his sister who trafficked her. And they are now on trial.

SANDRA (ph): They were shocked because they never expected I was still in Nigeria. They thought I was dead.

DAMON: This is the church where Sandra was approached. The church's head Pastor says, the man was a member, but not a Deputy Pastor. And there are

numerous disturbing reports of other churches manipulating and abusing faith.

MALE: I don't call them Pastors, I call them a (ph) in suits. Who would do such?

DAMON: The betrayal that stretched across two continents is now even closer to Sandra.

SANDRA (ph): Even my own father - he said I'm not his daughter.

DAMON: Still, she believed that her father will see her strength.

SANDRA (ph): When he sees my story has changed in a different way, maybe he'll be the one to be concerned with me - maybe he will be the one calling

me and this my best chance, its chance that got us free.

DAMON: She's publicizing her ordeal so that others don't have to go through it. Turning her nightmare into power. Arwa Damon, CNN Benin City,


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

Facebook and Twitter. Thanks for watching and goodbye from London.