Skip to main content

tv   Talk to Al Jazeera  Al Jazeera  April 11, 2015 7:30am-8:01am EDT

7:30 am
completed two walks to repair the iff for the first -- i.s.s. for the first spacecraft capable of transporting astronauts. >> for more on space and other stories, head over to the website you can see the front page there. this week on "talk to al jazeera" u.n.i.c.e.f. executive director anthony lake. >> you see children everywhere who have not given up hope. if they haven't given up hope, what possible excuse can we have for giving up hope? as the syrian war enters its fifth year he says critical efforts are needed to stop millions of children becoming a lost generation. >> every one of those numbers is an individual child. but these kids are losing
7:31 am
their childhoods. from syria and iraq, to the central african republic and south sudan - 2014 was the worst year for young people since world war ii. >> if you look at now the map of the world and imagine the countries in crisis, and tell me which one looks like it's going to get better. >> war aside, millions of children die every year from preventible causes. >> those kids dying every day are an abomination. even some of the wealthier countries are failing to care for their own youth according to u.n.i.c.e.f. >> no society is healthy if the inequalities in that society are growing. lake has served in a variety of roles for the u.s. government, including as national security advisor in the clinton administration. his advice for president obama now about the wars in syria and iraq... >> join with other nations and do everything you can through
7:32 am
bringing influence to bear through diplomacy to end this war. i spoke to anthony lake in new york. as i sit and speak with you your office put out a frightening report about what is going on in syria and iraq and in that region in general. you say that 14 million kids have been affected by that conflict. that is the population of new york, chicago and los angeles roughly, all put together. it's a massive problem. >> it is. it's a huge problem. and over 5 million of them are inside syria, then another 2 million living in refugee camps, or in host communities outside syria. another - and we forget about these - probably over 3.5 million kids are living in the communities in surrounding countries, that are having to try to take care of the syrian kids. that means they are suffering hardships also. and then we have over
7:33 am
2.5 million kids in iraq now. and these numbers are growing very rapidly. >> just across the board the biggest problem, at least numerically, is with the kids who have remained inside syria many of whom are displaced many of whom are facing war constantly... as you said, 5.6 million. >> yes. and very hard to reach. we have to struggle to reach them when they are in the government controlled areas. >> and the government has not been that helpful at times. >> not sometimes no, that's true. and so we work with the government to try to get them to be as helpful as they can. and of course it's not u.n.i.c.e.f. kids or young u.n.i.c.e.f. people in t-shirts going out and doing this but we work through partners to do this. local n.g.o.s, the red crescent society in syria, et cetera. so it's an immensely complex operation also. >> and as you said 2 million who have become refugees in nearby countries some of them in just tents - tent camps with all sorts
7:34 am
of challenges, especially just a very harsh winter this year. >> yes, or during the rainy periods flooding. in some of the valley areas. i want to emphasise something - we have just used numbers - 2 million, 5.5 million. et cetera, et cetera. every one of those numbers is an individual child. -- and they are children like my grandchildren who play laugh, cry, misbehave. but these kids are losing their childhoods and they are facing problems that are not only affecting them now in horrible ways, and you have seen it on television. i have visited in lebanon, syria and jordan and iraq, how the kids are trying to survive. it's affecting their future, and if it's affecting the kids' futures, it's affecting their country's futures, and that means all of us too. because we have such interests in that area. >> it creates a massive multipler effect, it affects the
7:35 am
kids from neighbouring countries because refugees are taking away resources of them. what do you see as the consequences of such an enormous displacement and refugee problem? >> well let's talk about it in terms of the kids themselves. imagine that you are a 5-year-old kid in syria, in a hard to reach area or living in a tent, literally just a tent, and the winters get very cold in the beqaa valley, jordan and elsewhere. that kid, that five-year-old kid has never known anything except for conflict and violence, and the stress on their families. one of the interesting aspects, and appalling aspects of this is that we are learning more and more in scientific studies of how this affects the kids' brain. for the first few years of a kids' life their brain is
7:36 am
developing rapidly. what happens to that kid's brain during those months and years will determine the rest of the kid's future. if the kid is not getting the nourishment, stimulation so that the brain is getting ideas and is playing or learning or whatever, and violence releases chemicals in the brain of toxic stress that prevents the child's brain from developing also. so literally their future is being affected by a loss of cognitive capacity for the rest of their lives. and that means their societies are losing all of that also. >> you said specifically once that for the youngest children the crisis is all they have known. this generation is in danger of being lost to a cycle of violence, replicating in the next generation what they have suffered in their own. how do you stop that cycle? >> you work and do everything
7:37 am
you can. we are focusing on two things for a campaign that we and a number of governments and ngo's have started called "no lost generation" to try to prevent this. the reason we are doing this is precisely because not only are the children suffering now but if they grow up believing that this kind of violence is normal, because this is all they know, then they are going to grow up with hatred in their hearts, believing that it is right to shoot sunnis or shias, they're going to grow up believing that barrel bombs are somehow normal and will replicate it again later. so you address it. let me show you some pictures. and read you a poem. usually when i travel and meet kids during disasters they are so hopeful. they are still in the midst of a flood or whatever. they are laughing or playing, finding ways to be kids.
7:38 am
here in the refugee camps that i visited in jordan and in the becca valley, you see that, and their hopes should inspire us to go on and work hard. but so many of them are starting not to be. i was in a tent school that we are running in the beqaa valley in lebanon a year ago. i said to the kids "what do you do for play?" they said one of the things is that marwan, and they all pointed to this little boy who's 12-years-old, writes poetry that we love. and so i thought great show me poetry. just one short poem translated "death don't come near me. not out of fear of my lost time, but fear of my mother shedding tears". my kids are playing baseball and marwan is writing poems like this. or i see kids drawing wonderful pictures of a happiness, remembering their homes or
7:39 am
whatever in many situations. here - violence, helicopters, people killed, canons, blood or a girl... >> everything black. >> ...just black now, the affect of this is they are losing education. they will not have the skills to contribute to society in the future, and in their hearts, hatred. so we have, for example, reached about a million kids now across the region with psychological counselling to try to get them over the trauma. and we are emphasising education, education, education within syria, where we have supplied millions of school supplies to kids across the country, or in helping the wonderfully generous in their support countries jordan, lebanon, turkey, iraq, who are
7:40 am
then trying to deal with the educational needs of these kids, including especially because you can't get them all into the schools that are hugely overburdened. so a lot of informal education as well. >> and you have also put out a massive effort to help with medical needs which are tremendous. >> one out of five hospitals in syria are not open - are really not functional. we are carrying out massive vaccination campaigns in every way we can. again, it's very hard. because it's not only in the government controlled areas. but probably a third or more of what we are doing is across the lines - either across the lines from the government controlled areas, or across the borders now that security council resolutions have authorised it into rebel held areas. it's dangerous work. >> and the abuse these children suffer from is on so many
7:41 am
different levels. just absolute horrors. we see it in iraq with the tales of what i.s.i.l. has done to the yazidi children, forced into suicide bombings. it's on every imaginable level. >> it is, and it is - among almost every group involved in this, there have been atrocities by all sides. including literally selling children. i have seen on the internet a list of the prices that they get when they sell children and women. outrageous experiences. >> little girls forced into marriage, and used as sexual slaves. >> children being taken in as child soldiers. there, and, of course, in other areas of the world as well which we work very hard on. >> i was in homs a year ago, in
7:42 am
syria, and met with some families who had just gotten out from a besieged area. and the stories the children were telling of not being able to walk on the streets because of snipers, so they were going through underground tunnels to pop out in abandoned houses to look for canned goods left over. they were hunting cats to eat. they were barely surviving. and, again, you can imagine the trauma for these kids. we went across a line then into a rebel held area in homs. we went to a school. and in the school they were having to study down in the basements because of the snipers that might shoot them if they went upstairs. what does that tell them about what adults are like. what does it tell them about what the rest of their lives will be like. the adolescents, the 12-year-olds, 13-year-olds 14-year-olds, just at the age when kids are saying and you hear it, and it's both
7:43 am
heartening and heart-breaking - to hear them say that now that they are thinking seriously about their future, they want to be doctors, they want to be teachers, and yet they are not getting the education, all the education they need to do it. you are heartened that they have hope, but it's heart-breaking because you know few of them, unless we stop this war now, are going to have those hopes very very diminished. >> we have been talking with anthony lake about syria. coming up we'll talk about africa and other hot spots around the world.
7:44 am
7:45 am
i'm antonio mora, this is "talk to al jazeera". today i'm speaking to anthony lake, executive director of u.n.i.c.e.f. >> u.n.i.c.e.f. needs almost 280 million dollars for what it's trying do in syria. and you have only a fraction
7:46 am
of that. really, a fraction of that. >> yes. >> the same thing is happening in iraq and other affected regions. >> yes. central african republic, south sudan, all of these crisis. last year was a... >> why? >>..was a terrible year for the children as the emergencies broke out. is the situation worse than any time since world war ii? >> i think so, yes. if you look at the map of the world and imagine for a moment the countries that are in crisis popping up, and tell me which one looks like it will get better. why don't we look at some of those countries. central african republic. >> it was horribly neglected during the colonial period. low education rates, et cetera, and it has completely fallen apart now between muslims and christians. and children are suffering terribly there.
7:47 am
lack of education - again, healthcare etc. not that far away in south sudan you have a civil war raging. >> and in the last week peace efforts have fallen apart. meanwhile hundreds of thousands of kids in need of nutrition. 25,000 children have been taken in to - as child soldiers, into the various armed groups. it's appalling. >> moving west. >> no end in sight. >> you have what is going on in nigeria, spilling over. chad and niger. >> yes. >> cameroon, and you have boko haram who is specifically against education. >> specifically against western education. >> yes. >> what can you - what can u.n.i.c.e.f. do? >> there's a very short answer our best. of course that requires resources - human and financial.
7:48 am
we have expanded considerably over the last couple of years. all of our resources we have to raise every year, even though we are a u.n. agency. we are raising more and more resource, but not nearly enough to do all the things that we need to do. >> why are you so badly underfunded? you'd thing the one thing everyone agrees on is you want to take care of suffering children. >> sure, we are hard wired to care for our children as human beings. i think the problem is in a way, just a fatigue people have gotten used to seeing images of children suffering, and people are used to seeing more suffer, and the crisis. we mustn't let it happen, it's stupid strategically, because these children are the children that will decide what the future of our world will be.
7:49 am
so we keep trying. on a personal note i wake up in the morning read the headlines i see no progress. you know there'll, with climate change, be more natural disasters also. and i say to myself - we are going to go through another day of not able to do everything we can for the children. i start to get discouraged. then i remember, and what we tell each other in u.n.i.c.e.f. and to others - even if we can't do 100% of what we need to do, and that means children unnecessarily dying and futures being blighted. there's a huge difference between doing 90% of what we need to do and 80% of what we need to do, because the 10% difference is millions of kids' lives. so let's get as close to 100% as we can. and if it's 90%, if we know we did our best, then... that's our best.
7:50 am
your campaign - instead of focussing on the children who have died or are dying, you try to send a hopeful message. >> well, you see children everywhere who have not given up hope. if they have not given up hope, what excuse can we have for giving up hope? of course, translating that hope into hard work, and translating that hard work into results for the children. >> some may argue that our priorities are messed up. >> i would argue that. >> all right. >> where to begin. >> you know, why don't we begin with the military. we spend enormous amounts on the military, not just the united states, but countries around the world, and not enough on protecting the kids. on the other hand, is that money, at this point, essential, because somehow the
7:51 am
military has to be involved in somehow trying to end these conflicts. >> no, of course and it would be useless and impractical to argue don't spend so much on the military. nations act in what they perceive to be their own self-interest. it's important to understand that if we don't take care of this generation of children, if this generation grows up to think it is normal, and they are not only outside of nations they are within. then we'll have the same military expenditure, no rational person wants to spend money on military rather than on the future of their people. so work on raising a generation
7:52 am
of children less likely to repeat the same mistakes as this generation and my generation and that way you can reduce military spending over time. >> conflict again has been a problem within ukraine. you have hundreds of thousands of children suffering. you found that the problem is not just in underdeveloped countries, but you have seen that the richest countries in the world, that well over 2 million kids have fallen into poverty in the last few years since the recession, and in the united states itself, in 34 out of the 50 states children are in worse shape than they were before. >> absolutely. and that's not good for any society. and, of course, while you were saying that, i was thinking to myself you don't change human nature by higher economic development.
7:53 am
people are people. it's natural in any country there'll be problems. no society is healthy if the inequalities in that society are growing. politically it is not sustainable if some groups are getting more than others. it's a recipe for political difficulties. >> you highlight that this is not just a rural problem, which some people might think. no, no, it's people in disadvantaged areas, this is a serious problem in urban areas. >> very much so. with urbanization in africa, rapid urbanization, more moving into the cities, if you don't plan for it, you get these slums that are growing up with no planning at all. and once they've moved in there, it's harder to provide it than if you have some sort of planned urbanization so that you are providing the sewage systems et cetera, in those areas, which in turn prevents disease
7:54 am
and when you have more disease you have to spend more money on the medical side and it's just bad planning. urban planning - and urban planning that addresses climate change is extremely important for the future of the next generation. >> 19,000 children die every day of preventible causes. coming up we'll talk to anthony lake about whether the world has failed these kids.
7:55 am
7:56 am
7:57 am
7:58 am
7:59 am
>> no nonsense new york city police commissioner william bratton >> they just respected this department >> restoring trust... >> it's going to be difficult... >> modernizing the force... >> this is going to be a revolutionary year >> protecting lives... >> the technologies we have available to us are phenomenal
8:00 am
>> every sunday night. >> i lived that character. >> go one on one with america's movers and shakers. >> we will be able to see change. >> gripping. inspiring. entertaining. talk to al jazeera. only on al jazeera america. >> we are in the farthest north reaches of wisconsin, in america's midwest, 200 miles from the nearest major city. it's home to the chippewa people, native american tribes who've lived here for generations alongside farmers and miners. but today, tourism is among the primary industries. >> right now we are on the coast of lake superior, which is