tv Amanpour on PBS PBS December 30, 2017 12:00am-12:30am PST
>> welcome to "amanpour on pbs." tonight, a special program on slavery. that dark chapter in human history is still playing out in northern africa. in libya, our team of journalists discovered something unimaginable -- slave auctions. we'll have their special report and a conversation with the former british foreign secretary, the president of the international rescue committee, david miliband. ♪ ♪ >> "amanpour on pbs" was made possible by the generous support of rosalind p. walter. >> good evening, everyone, and
welcome to this special program. i'm christiane amanpour in london with the world view. it was the exposé that shifted the global agenda. our team, led by reporter nima elbagir, 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 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 protests 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 u.k. to france and africa itself have condemned it, and they're demanding action from the u.n. and repatriation efforts have already begun. as i said, it all began
with this game-changing report in november from our team, led by correspondent nima elbagir. >> [ speaking native language ] >> a man addressing an unseen crowd. "big strong boys for farm work," he says. "400. 700." "700?" "800." the numbers roll in. these men are sold for 1,200 libyan pounds, $400 apiece. you are watching an auction of human beings. another man claiming to be a buyer. off-camera someone asks, "what happened to the ones from niger?" "sold off," he's told. cnn was sent this footage by a contact. 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. we're 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 these 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 driving to isn't 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 cameras... and wait. finally, it's time to move. we're ushered into one of two auctions happening on this same night. crouched at the back of the yard, a floodlight obscuring much of the scene. one by one, men are brought out as the bidding begins. "400." "500." "550." "600." "650." "700." very quickly, it's 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's over with." and we're asked to leave. that was over very quickly. 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," the merchandise. all and all, they admitted to us that there were 12 nigerians that were sold in front of us. and i honestly don't know what to say. that was probably one of the most unbelievable things i've ever seen. >> they want to take us to italy. let us -- take us to our
various countries. >> these men are migrants with dreams of being smuggled to europe by sea. >> excuse me. can i speak now? >> we are going to try. >> they come in their thousands from niger, mali, nigeria, ghana. 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. >> no food. water. >> no food, no water -- nothing. >> victory was a slave. we know that some people are being sold. >> yes. >> some people are being sold. >> yes. >> is this something you've heard about? can you tell us about it? >> yes. sure. >> tell us. >> i was sold.
>> what happened? >> on my way coming, i was sold. if you look at muscles, if you check our bodies, you see the mark -- they're beaten with an electric... [ speaking indistinctly ] most of them lost their lives there. and i was there. the person who came to buy me give them my money. they took me home. so the money was not even much. >> other migrants now start to come forward with their stories. >> they took people to work by force. everywhere we are, this is... where we are -- where we are -- >> you're working the work. they will be beating you while you are working the work. i'm doing your work. now, they will be kicking us. hi-yah! hi-yah! hi-yah! >> hi-yah! hi-yah! >> but i promise you -- i will take care of your husband and the others. >> anes alazabi is the supervisor here. with no international support,
it's his job to look after the captured migrants until they can be deported. he says every day brings fresh heartbreak. >> it's okay. i'm suffering for them. i am suffering for them. what they have seen here -- daily, believe me -- make me really feel pain for them. they come, and every story's a special case. a few -- they was abusing them. they stole their money. >> have you heard about people being auctioned off, about migrants being sold? >> honestly, we hear the rumors, but there's nothing this obvious in front of us. we don't have evidence. >> 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 the past. nima elbagir, cnn libya. >> now, the head of the u.n.'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. well, i take it in -- i do have a very personal reflection on 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 already 2,816 as of today, which is a higher percentage relative to arrivals than last year. and that doesn't -- that -- 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. >> what right policies should be in place to avoid this situation? >> 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 re-settlement options, re-unification of families. there are many ways to deal with this issue, and given the demography that we know about, the median age of people in niger is 14 -- in western europe, it's 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?"
>> now, the issue of migrants and refugees has become especially toxic in america 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 populist surge, 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 its 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 ban won't make us safer or solve the migrant issue. we talked about that and his new book, "rescue: refugees and the political crisis of our time." we met here in the studio. david miliband, welcome. >> thank you. >> 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, you know, countries in deep humanitarian crisis, the kind of places that, you know, spew forth refugees. what do you think of that? >> no, we've got our teams in all those places -- syria, libya, chad. 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 that, for many 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 program from 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 its back on a whole section of the global population. >> you know, you can see this kind of populist, anti-immigrant politics sweeping the west right now. it's not just america -- it's europe, as well. how do you bring an electorate along? you know, people who may believe in all the values of human rights know that their 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 van who plows into a sidewalk and kills people? >> 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 reasons and people who are fleeing for their lives. the baker from damascus whose house is bombed, the girl who's chased out of her school by boko haram. these are 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 there needs to be work at both ends of the refugee crisis, both in the countries that are sheltering most refugees -- after all, the top-10 refugee-hosting countries are not britain, america, france. they are kenya, ethiopia, lebanon, jordan, turkey. these are relatively poor and lower-middle-income countries. and we need an effective humanitarian aid system, as well. 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 are the solutions? well, the biggest argument i make here is that the refugee crisis is not insoluble. it's not unmanageable. give refugee-hosting states big macroeconomic support -- the jordans, the lebanons, the kenyas, the ethiopias. give them the proper support that recognizes that 10 years of a displacement of refugees is a responsibility that they're discharging, but let the refugees work, so that they're
contributing to the society. secondly, half of all refugees are kids, yet less than 2% of the global humanitarian budget goes on education. that is a global scandal that needs to be addressed, because you've got a whole generation being lost. third,hat do refugees need more than anything else? not tents or food -- they need cash, because 60% of refugees are living in urban areas. and then, the fourth element of the rescue package is that the western countries, richer countries, because gulf countries, too, have got to take in the most vulnerable refugees. it is a symbolic statement, but, also, a substantive statement to stand with those countries that are hosting the most refugees. >> i mean, you are, in short, proposing a total revolution in how one deals with refugees. no longer the big, sprawling camps, people settled in tents, or even in metal containers. you're talking about -- >> and i say that the refugees' camps end up being funeral homes for dreams, and that's the tragedy. my own view now is that we've got to recognize that it'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 aid, rather than address the substantive issues, and, sometimes, it's convenient for the refugee-hosting countries. the central fact i'd like your viewers to remember is that the average refugee is displaced from their own home not for 10 weeks 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. >> and make something of the societies that they go into. >> and contribute. >> 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, i think, since world war ii, but it's gonna get bigger. africa shows no sign of slowing down. >> well, that is a great point. and, remember, it's 65 million refugees and internally displaced. there are 25 million refugees, 40 million people, like in northeast nigeria, internally displaced as a result of conflict. but your point is an absolutely great one.
if this was just a blip, if this was a 1- or 2-year phenomenon, we'd return to some sort of normal, where there were very few refugees -- you could say, "okay, 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 weak and divided international political system, real tumult within the muslim-majority world about engagement with different forms of islam and whether or not it's pluralism or purification that's the future of the islamic world. those are long-term trends, not short-term trends. >> so, that brings us to something that cnn broke and has really affected the global agenda, and that's our nima elbagir with the video evidence and the reporting -- eyewitness evidence -- of slave auctions in libya. and that's caused a huge international discussion. how can this be in 2017? >> well, you don't often hear this, but credit to cnn. i mean, they really do deserve -- the bravery of your journalists right on the front line really is something to
behold. you saw some of the pictures. it's a feature of globalization. i don't know if you notice -- it's an arsenal shirt that someone was wearing on the previous clip. >> and shot by a cellphone. >> and shot by a cellphone. 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 semblance 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. >> so, a lot who really, really do drill down on refugees, immigrants, migration -- 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, let's say africa, since that's the focus right now -- to, you know, stop the push factor. is that possible? >> 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 of aid. but remember what the marshall plan was -- it wasn't just an aid plan. the marshall plan was a political plan, a public-private partnership, and it was also a cultural -- a plan of cultural exchange. so, unless you get all three elements in place, you're not gonna have the benefit of the marshall plan. and the other thing about the marshall plan -- it was long-term. it was thinking for the whole of the postwar period. i'm running a large ngo. we're dependent on 6 to 12 months' grants. and we're trying to solve long-term problems -- education, employment, abuse of women and kids -- with short-term grants. that's the big change that we need, too, if we're able to match the needs of the people with an effective response. >> and talking about long and short term, how do you change people's views over the long term, given the current
sort of heaping of abuse and demonization of foreigners, of immigrants, of refugees? all over the west, that's happened. you've seen it in our populist politics. you've seen it in the elections. the proof is right there. >> well, grievance politics is on the march, but it's also the case -- i see this in the u.s. for every person who's afraid of the refugee who might move in next door, there's another american who 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 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 at stake. if you go back to the end of the second world war, 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 a just 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 interests, and we trash our values, and that's very dangerous. >> david miliband, thank you ve much inde. >> tnk you very much. >> 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. ♪ >> blessing blows on a leaf and places it on bottle. >> [ speaking native language ] >> 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? >> yes. >> are they going with you? >> no. >> so, you must miss them. you'll miss them so much? >> i'll miss them, yes. >> [ speaking native language ] >> the ritual will culminate an 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, says the priest, that when he finishes, if blessing breaks her promise, the spirit will appear in her dreams and cut her. do you know how much you're gonna have to pay back? >> i don't really know. i don't know. >> 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 remittances from abroad, and women are regularly approached with false promises. you trusted him? sandra is taking about her deputy pastor, who told her he had a vision from god that she traveled overseas. then he said his sister in russia could get her a job in a hair salon. sandra went willingly, but for added insurance, he took items from her. when she arrived in russia, the sum was more than she could have ever imagined.
>> $45,000? >> 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. she thought about killing herself, if only to spare herself being killed. 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.
it took sandra three years to pay off the debt. when she got back to benin city, she reported the man and his sister who trafficked her. and they are now on trial. >> in the name of jesus! >> amen! >> this is the church where sandra was approached. the church's head pastor says the man was a member, but not a deputy pastor. >> you are free. >> and there are numerous disturbing reports of other churches manipulating and abusing faith. >> i don't call them pastors. i call them... or native doctor in suits. who would do such? >> the betrayal that stretched across two continents is now even closer to sandra. still, she believes that her
father will see her strength. 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, nigeria. >> and that's it for our program tonight. thank you for joining me for this edition of "amanpour on pbs." goodbye from london, and see you next time. ♪ >> "amanpour" on pbs was made possible by the generous support of rosalind p. walter. ♪ >> you're watching pbs. [jazz music]