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Dutch priest killed in Syria

April 8th, 2014
03:42 PM ET

For decades, Father Frans offered sanctuary to many in Syria. He was killed this week in Syria.

CNN's Arwa Damon reports.

Filed under:  Latest Episode • Syria

Ancient tragedy gives hope to Syrians

April 3rd, 2014
08:44 AM ET

At the Za'atari Refugee Camp in Jordan, an ancient tragedy is giving hope to Syria's tragic generation today.

Christiane Amanpour reports – and draws on her own experience, watching a production of “Hair” in war-torn Bosnia, in 1993.

Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Imagine a World • Latest Episode • Syria

Angelina Jolie puts spotlight on Syrian refugees as U.N. Refugees chief warns Lebanon could collapse under burden

March 27th, 2014
03:02 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

Lebanon could collapse under the weight of the massive influx of Syrian refugees, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres warned in an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that aired Thursday.

Without economic and financial support, and an increased effort to share the burden of Syrian refugees, “Lebanon [does] not [have] the possibility to go on with the present situation,” Guterres said.

Angelina Jolie, a special envoy for the UNHCR, is highlighting the plight of Syrian refugees.

She recently visited with a family living in a Lebanese refugee camp, speaking with a young child, Hala, and her five siblings.

Hala saw her mother killed under their collapsed home, and their father is missing and presumed dead.

Watch Jolie speak with Hala and her siblings.

“Twenty-five percent of the Lebanese population today is Syrian,” Guterres said. “We have more Syrian students in Lebanese public schools than Lebanese students.”


U.N. Refugee chief on looming crisis

CNN's Christiane Amanpour speaks with United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres.

“Lebanon has serious problems with electricity and water, and largely because of this huge increase in population; the health system is totally overburdened, and the security implications of the Syrian crisis to Lebanon are absolutely dramatic.”

“Nobody can afford the collapse of Lebanon in the present moment.”


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode • Syria

Web extra: Coping with the burden of Syrian refugees

March 27th, 2014
03:01 PM ET

In this web extra, CNN's Christiane Amanpour speaks with United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres about the burden of Syrian refugees on surrounding countries.

"Countries must show effective financial and economic solidarity with the host countries, but they also need to open their [own] borders," Guterres said.

Click above to watch.

Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Syria

Millions of children affected by Syria war a ‘strategic issue,’ says UNICEF director and former U.S. national security adviser

March 12th, 2014
05:37 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

The plight of the 5.5 million children now affected by the war in Syria – more than twice the number than just a year ago – is a national security issue, not just a humanitarian one, UNICEF Executive Director and former U.S. National Security Adviser Anthony Lake.

“These are not statistics. These are human beings, and these are children. And this is, the governments should remember, a strategic issue,” Lake told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour from the devastated Syrian city of Homs.

“So many of them have been traumatized by seeing things no child should ever see,” he said. “I fear that they’re going to grow up with more vengeance than reconciliation.”


Why Syria is 'strategic issue'

UNICEF Executive Director and former U.S. National Security Adviser Anthony Lake says Syria is a "strategic issue."

Without adequate education and counselling, he said, “in the next generation we’re going to see a replication of the same violence and the same problems that will affect both the region and the world.”

“So this is a question not an issue of humanitarian obligations, but also of strategic self-interest for all of these governments, and they need to step back and understand that.”


Fears of vengeance for Syria's children

UNICEF Director Tony Lake tells Amanpour he fears Syrian children will grow up with vengeance, not reconciliation.

This week marks three years since the beginning of the Syrian war, and humanitarian organizations are redoubling their efforts to get the world to respond to, and put an end to, the bloodshed.

The UK organization Save the Children said in a new report that some surgical patients are “opting to be knocked out with metal bars for lack of anaesthesia.”


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode • Syria

Malala tells CNN: World risks losing generation of Syrian children

February 18th, 2014
03:04 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

The world risks losing a generation of Syrian children if it ignores their plight, Malala Yousafzai – the Pakistani girl who made a miraculous recovery after being shot in the head by the Taliban – told CNN on Tuesday.

“It’s a risk to all of us if we ignore them,” Malala, as she is known to her legions of followers, said.

“People should focus on their bright future, because their bright future means our bright future, and the future of the whole world.”

Malala visited on Tuesday travelled to the Zaatari Refugee Camp in Jordan to meet with the young victims of Syria’s grinding war. She spoke from there with CNN’s Hala Gorani, filling in for Christiane Amanpour.

“So many children, they can’t go to school, they cannot get education,” Malala said, overlooking the refugee camp.


Filed under:  Latest Episode • Malala Yousafzai • Syria

Hague: Assad "not intending to budge"

February 15th, 2014
04:52 AM ET

CNN's Christiane Amanpour talks to UK Foreign Secretary William Hague about the conflict in Syria and recent protests in Bosnia.

Filed under:  Bosnia • Latest Episode • Syria

UK Foreign Secretary William Hague sits down for wide-ranging interview with Christiane Amanpour

February 14th, 2014
07:13 PM ET

By Dominique van Heerden, CNN

As heads of state met in London for a major anti-poaching conference, UK Foreign Secretary William Hague spoke to CNN’s Christiane Amanpour about everything from poaching, to conflict in the Central African Republic and Syria, and the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi.

Wildlife poaching

The British government has just hosted the Illegal Wildlife Trading Conference in the hopes they, along with affected countries, can find a solution to protect the world’s most iconic species from extinction, because “we are in the eleventh hour”.

“Rhino populations have been devastated with one killed every ten or eleven hours at the moment. The illegal trade in ivory has doubled in the last six years,” Hague tells Amanpour.

Incidents of poaching are on the rise fueled by a growing demand for ivory and rhino horn in Asia.

There are also concerns that poaching is helping to fund violent groups in the region.

When asked what he expected to be different after this conference, Hague says this is a “turning point,” citing an important combination of measures that African countries are going to take, including destroying stockpiles of ivory.

And it’s not just African countries who have pledged to take action; he says the countries through whom these products are transported have committed to do more to intercept illegal ivory and “treat the trade as serious organized crime”.

“This is a moral issue that these great animals have as much right to inhabit this world as we do…”

Crisis in the Central African Republic

Another major problem stalking the African continent is the ongoing crisis in the Central African Republic, where the United Nations is warning of “ethnic cleansing” as fighting between Muslims and Christians spirals out of control.

Although there are already French troops in the country, and thousands of African forces are being deployed, Hague says they need more help, and “more help is coming from Europe”.

Britain will not be sending troops to the Central African Republic though, instead they will help with humanitarian aid and logistical support, “but other European countries are going to do more,” Hague tells Amanpour, and he says it is “absolutely crucial” to have the involvement and support of other African states.

Assad “not intending to budge”

Christiane Amanpour also spoke to the UK’s Foreign Secretary about Syria, and the lack of progress in trying to find a solution to the country’s civil war. As the latest round of Geneva talks failed to bring about any notable progress, William Hague says President Bashar al-Assad is “clearly not intending to budge”.

“This has gone backwards and forwards over three years now. And so I think it would be a mistake for this regime to think it’s now so strong it doesn’t need to do anything.”

Britain is still providing help to the opposition, “practical support that isn’t lethal,” Hague says.

“We’ve never taken the position in any of these conflicts that we send lethal supplies. And it’s very hard for us to guarantee what happens to those lethal supplies. And that, of course, is a major difficulty for us.”

He adds that he is “not holding out any prospect” of changing position on lethal supplies in the near future, but says that Britain does want to be able to send “more practical support of other kinds that saves lives”.

The conflict in Syria is creeping closer to home for Britain where there are reports of British nationals traveling to Syria to fight in the war. Hague calls these reports “credible”.

“Hundreds of people from Britain and many other Western countries involved in going to fight in Syria and that is a huge concern for us,” he says.

Asked how he plans to tackle the problem, Hague tells Amanpour there are some actions they can take, like depriving people of their passports and canceling visas for those who are resident in the UK, who they “believe are a threat”.

But ultimately, he says, “the solution lies in resolving the conflict in Syria… That is the only long-term answer to this”.

A final thought on Sochi

There was a lot of uproar in the weeks leading up to the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi over concerns about security and human rights in Russia.

But despite the “differences” between Britain and Russia, William Hague says he wants it all to go well.

“We want any Olympics anywhere in the world to be successful and to be safe,” he says, “and yes we have some differences with Russia over some issues such as LGBT rights, but we want them to succeed in hosting a successful Olympics”.

Click on videos above to watch Amanpour's extensive interview with William Hague.

Filed under:  Central African Republic • Latest Episode • Poaching • Russia • Syria • United Kingdom

Syrians forced to eat grass; aid worker says deprivation worst he’s ever seen

February 11th, 2014
03:25 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

A World Food Programme aid director on the ground in Syria described to CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday the desperate situation of civilians in war-ravaged Homs – something he said he had “never seen” before in his career.

“Nobody is able to actually feed themselves, feed their children, feed their families, with anything but the weed, the grass that they can pick on the side of the curb and what little that they can eke out from what they’ve saved over time,” Matthew Hollingworth, Syria director for the World Food Programme, said on the phone from Homs.

“They’re living in tunnels, they’re living in basements of apartment buildings which are otherwise destroyed, basements of shopping centers.”

“They are barely, and they have been barely, existing,” he said. “I’ve never seen levels of deprivation such as this.”


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode • Syria

Ex-Syrian government insider Jihad Makdissi speaks out about the country’s future

February 5th, 2014
03:22 PM ET

Today marks yet another key deadline that Syria has missed to get rid of its chemical stockpiles.

The chemical weapons deal, brokered by the United States and Russia in September last year seemingly has little to show for itself. Even after recent peace talks in Geneva the Syrian regime continues to rain its military might on cities and civilians across the country.

CNN’s Christiane Amanpour spoke to Syria’s former government spokesman in his first television interview since announcing his resignation in February 2013.

Jihad Makdissi served as spokesman through the first year of the civil war, but is no longer a supporter of the Assad government or the opposition. He left his position defending the government after realising Syria was not “heading towards a political solution” even though he had hopes that President Bashar al-Assad would take “reformist actions”.

When asked if President Assad thinks he can win on the ground, Makdissi told Amanpour his view is the Syrian government “still believes in a security solution" for the conflict, and that “any political concession is not in their dictionary yet”.

But he says the international community needs to acknowledge this conflict is “no longer about Assad”. “What most Syrians want the international community to concentrate on”, he says, is, “on Syria achieving change”.

Click above to watch the full interview.

Filed under:  Latest Episode • Syria
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