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The Global Brief with Bianca Nobilo

Migrant Crisis Spirals; Iraq's Climate Crisis Battle; Britney Spears Speaks Out. Aired 5-5:30p ET

Aired November 17, 2021 - 17:00   ET



BIANCA NOBILO, CNN HOST: Hello, and welcome. This is THE GLOBAL BRIEF. I'm Bianca Nobilo in London.

Tonight, hundreds of Iraqi migrants ask for repatriation flights as humanitarian situation on the border with Poland continues to deteriorate.

Then, we take a look at how migration is impacted by the climate crisis, zoning in on a region which is fast becoming uninhabitable.

And Britney Spears speaks out and thanks her loyal fan base. What she's planning to do next now that she's free from her conservatorship.

Now, from Brussels to Baghdad, the crisis on border between Belarus and Poland is spiraling into one of global proportions. Here are the latest

developments for you. The E.U. is allocating nearly $800,000 in humanitarian aid for migrants in Belarus. The money will be used by Red

Cross and Red Crescent workers to deliver food, blankets and hygiene kit and first aid boxes.

On the diplomatic front, the focus is turning to Russia which is seen as steadily increasing its power and influence over Belarus.

NATO member Estonia now says it will build new temporary fences along part of its border with Russia, in a snap military exercise.

We spoke to the Estonian prime minister this time yesterday who said Moscow wants to see Europe divided.

While elsewhere, Iraq's foreign ministry said hundreds are asking to return to the country according to state media. 325 people reportedly requested an

evacuation flight that is set to travel from Minsk to Erbil and then to Bagdad on Thursday.

After days of camping out in freezing and desperate conditions, around a thousand migrants have now been moved to a processing center.

Matthew Chance has been on the front line of this story and joins now from Minsk.

Matthew, great to have you on the program. We're now hearing that some migrants want to return to their countries of origin.

Are they starting to give up on getting into the E.U.?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think that is certainly true, Bianca, for some of them. We've spoken to numerous

people out there in the freezing conditions on border that have simply had enough of the cold weather and think it is just going to be too hard to get

into the European Union through that route. Tonight a group of about a thousand migrants have taken the decision to be moved to a processing camp,

a big giant warehouse just a short distance from the border area. The Belarusian authorities are saying it is a humanitarian gesture because at

least the people are getting out of cold for the night and for the foreseeable future.

Meanwhile, on the actual border itself there are still hundreds of migrants camped up against the razor wire still hopeful of getting into the E.U.


CHANCE (voice-over): These are the few hundred migrants refusing to give up. Still at Europe's border now begging to be allowed through. Behind the

razor wire, Polish border guards showing little sign of backing down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They say help. Help, Poland.

CHANCE: That is what they're shouting?


CHANCE: And the Polish are not helping.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, not helping.

CHANCE: Before the pleas, there was anger. This was the violence that engulfed the border between Belarus and Poland just a day before. At times

surging out of control, young migrants desperate to enter Europe tore at the barricades.

They are throwing stones and I could see the Poles are responding with water -- with water cannon covering us in water. Sometimes that water is

quite acrid. It has some sort of pepper component and so it is stinging your eyes a little bit.

But now, Belarus accused of orchestrating the crisis appears to be ratcheting the pressure down, filling this makeshift migrant processing

center away from the volatile border. Families are given food and blankets here. And warm clothes to stave off the cold. It is still basic, but lives

are less at risk.

Lives of migrants like Shohan (ph) from Iraqi Kurdistan and her son. Aji.


Hello, Aji. How are you?

We first met them a few days before at the freezing camp desperate to leave for Germany.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We came here because of my son. Because he need an operation.

CHANCE: He needs an operation?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah. A big operation. In the back.

CHANCE: I would say he's got this splint on his leg.


CHANCE: I see.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And he can't walk.

It is better because it is too much warm.

CHANCE: Much warmer?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Warmer than the forest and we have food, we have beds, for sleeping.

CHANCE: They've given you blankets? Are you still hopeful that you will get -- you and Aji will get to Germany? Do you think it will still happen

or will they send you back to Iraq?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have big hope to go to Germany because I think Germany have humanity.

CHANCE: But back at border camp, there are growing doubts of passage to Europe is really in store. After having hopes built up in Belarus, these

desperate migrants may now see them dashed.


CHANCE: Well that first vaccination flight which you mentioned earlier to Iraq is expected to leave for the country tomorrow. That is Thursday. There

is going to be perhaps dozens if not hundreds of people actually on board. But what Belarus officials are waiting for the E.U., specifically Germany

to finally decide whether they will take any of these migrants in -- Bianca.

NOBILO: Matthew Chance in Minsk, thank you.

Russia is also wielding his influence in another region close to its home. This time stepping into broke a cease-fire between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Border clashes euprted Tuesday, killing seven Azerbaijani troops were killed and one Armenian soldier. It is the worst fighting since last year's

war over the disrupted Nagorno-Karabakh region. Moscow negotiated a truce to that conflict a year ago, and deployed nearly 2,000 peace keepers to

enforce it.

Russia has a military base in Armenia. It's required by defense pact to protect the country if it comes under attack.

Now it could be one of the most important developments to come out of the U.S./Chinese summit if Joe Biden and Xi Jinping follow through on it. They

agreed to consider negotiations on arms control. Now talking about the possibility of talks might not sound like a lot but it is progress when an

issue that concerns all of Asia and beyond.

CNN's Will Ripley reports.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping meeting virtually this week, as the world

faces what analysts call a growing threat -- an intensifying arms race across the Indo Pacific, potential flashpoints across the region, raising

the risk of a nuclear conflict, threatening the U.S., its allies and the world.

PETER LAYTON, VISITING FELLOW, GRIFFITH ASIA INSTITUTE: If you have a serious conflict, you could end up with the nuclear weapons being used. And

we're not talking atomic bombs. We're talking hydrogen bombs and this is a different level warfare entirely.

RIPLEY: The world's most assertive nuclear power China. New satellite images suggests Beijing is building nuclear capable missile silos, testing

more ballistic missiles than the rest of the world combined the Pentagon says, including what the U.S. calls a potentially game changing hypersonic

weapon, a claim China denies.

The Chinese navy now the largest in the world, with a catch most of their warships are small, but they are getting bigger. A new aircraft carrier in

Shanghai could launch early next year. With technology rivaling the larger more advanced U.S. carrier fleet.

How long does it going to take for China's Navy to pose this credible threat to America's Navy?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think they still need to a lot of time.

RIPLEY: Are we talking years are we talking?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Years, 20 to 30.

RIPLEY: Twenty to 30 years?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Twenty to 30 years.

RIPLEY: Full size mock ups of U.S. warships dot the desert in Xinjiang, possibly for target practice analysts say. China also flexing its flight

muscles flying warplanes near Taiwan in record numbers.

The islands leaders warn cross strait tensions are at 40 year highs, Taiwan racing to modernize its military, new ships, more missiles, billions of

dollars in American made weapons all to guard against an invasion Taiwan's defense minister says could be possible by 2025.

A war that could involve the U.S. and other Democratic allies Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen told CNN last month in this exclusive interview.

Is Taiwan strategy to try to be able to defend for a period of time before other countries could assist?

TSAIN ING-WEN, TAIWAN PRESIDENT: We definitely want to defend ourselves as long as we can.


But let me reiterate, it's important that we have the support -- the support of our friends.

RIPLEY: Taiwan's closest friend, at least geographically, Japan, signaling support for Taipei, a thinly veiled warning for Beijing.

NOBUO KISHI, JAPANESE MINISTER OF DEFENSE (through translator): What could happen in Taiwan would likely be an issue for Japan, in which case Japan

would need to respond accordingly.

RIPLEY: Japan is staging its largest military drills in decades, moving missiles radar and troops to its southern islands about 100 miles from the

Taiwanese Coast, sending ships to the East China Sea, the site of territorial disputes with China.

Japan also facing a threat from North Korean missiles. Pyongyang believed to be ramping up production of uranium for its growing nuclear arsenal.

South Korea speeding up its own weapons development, including submarine launched ballistic missiles.

Australia will get nuclear-powered submarines part of a deal with the U.S. and the UK to counter China's rapid expansion, militarizing manmade islands

in the South China Sea.

Another military buildup in the Himalayas, the site of deadly border clashes last year between China and India, another nation with nuclear


PETER LAYTON, VISITING FELLOW, GRIFFITH ASIA INSTITUTE: Our military forces are definitely being built up. Getting into those sorts of those arms races

like that is certainly a difficult path.

RIPLEY: A path charted primarily by Presidents Biden and Xi today and whoever leads tomorrow.

Will Ripley, CNN, Taipei.


NOBILO: We want to highlight a deep dive into far right extremism in Austria featured on

CNN's Tim Lister has an extensive report after Austrian police raided a house and discovered an arsenal of 50 weapons and 1,200 kilograms of

ammunition, well as Nazi paraphernalia and a large amount of gunpowder.

According to the police statement, the raid occurred last month with the house belonging to a 53-year-old man who is suspected of national socialist

Nazi activities.

Austria's interior minister said the action against right wing extremism is not only part of the historic responsibility but also a clear advocacy of

our democratic coexistence in Austria.

Support for Nazism is criminal offense in the country and this wasn't the first action against the legionnaire Nazis in Austria this year. In July,

police seized automatic weapons and hand grenades in coordinated raids against a biker gang whose leader wants to establish what he called a

militia of the respectable.

As Tim Lister explores in his report, neo-Nazi activity is associated with biker gangs, organized crime and football fans. For more on that story,

please head over to or you could find it on the CNN app.

Schools and colleges in and around Delhi are now closed and India's government is keeping it that way indefinitely because the air quality

there is so poor. The Indian capital is one of the most polluted cities in the world and there is usually an uptick in tiny airborne particles in

November as farmers burn the waste from their crops.

Pediatricians are sounding the alarm. More and more children are now having trouble breathing which could have devastating consequences in the long



DR. ARVIND BOUNTRA, PEDIATRICS DEPT., MAX SUPER SPECIALTY HOSPITAL: If the child is going to fall ill or repeatedly ill, it is going to effect his

growth. The nutrition aspect, they don't feed well, they don't eat well when they are sick. So they growth and heights are also effected.

There is some studies that show that the cognitive functions of the brain are also effected by these very small particles.


NOBILO: The government has temporarily shut down five power stations, all fueled by coal. There is also now a ban on nonessential vehicles.

Chinese state media has released an email allegedly from tennis star Peng Shuai claiming that she's fine. She hasn't been seen since making that

sexual assault allegation against a former senior Chinese communist party official. And that was on the 2nd of November, over two weeks ago. The

email which has not been verified by CNN, was not accompanied by any other evidence of her whereabouts. It also appears to push back on the sexual

assault allegations.

Earlier, a Chinese government spokesperson avoiding questions from the media over her well being. Instead trying to point reporters in a different

direction, back to a department journalists have already failed to get a response from.

Straight after THE GLOBAL BRIEF, CNN will have much more on the story on World Sport.

First, let's take a look at coronavirus stories making impact today.

The Czech Republic has hit a record daily high for COVID-19 cases, reporting more than 22,000 cases Wednesday.


Slovakia also has reported an all-time high of daily infections with more than 8,300 cases. Both countries plan to decide on changes to coronavirus

measures on Thursday.

Beijing is minimizing in bound flights from Chinese cities considered medium and high risk for COVID-19. It comes in response to nationwide

outbreaks of the delta variant. China continues to pursue a zero COVID approach aimed at stamping out the virus completely within its borders. New

Zealand is going to ease some of the restrictions that protesters have been speaking out against. The prime minister now said people will be able to

leave the city after months in lockdown starting on December the 15th. New Zealand has abandoned its zero COVID strategy in recent weeks.

Now unless you're me or a select few others, most people don't watch many UK parliament debates but if they do see something, it's often the rowdy

prime minister questions known as PMQ's.

So knowing how poor public perceptions of MPs are right now, the speaker of the House of Commons stepped in today during a fiery PMQ session. He

rebuked the prime minister and the leader of the opposition, Keir Starmer, and the most senior figures of both parties for their poor parliamentary

behavior, saying he expected better politics from both sides.


LINDSAY HOYLE, SPEAKER, UK HOUSE OF COMMONS: This is not good. We lost a dear friend. I want to assure that these socialists learn from it. I don't

want each -- I don't want it to be shouted down. I want questions and I expect the public to actually be hear the questions and the answers because

I'm struggling in this chair. I need no more.

Prime Minister, I'm not going to be challenged. You may be the prime minster, but in this house, I'm in charge.


NOBILO: The Speaker Lindsey Hoyle told me a few weeks ago that he was on a mission to clean up parliament's reputation, aware that toxic politics is

driving trolling and abuse and violence against MPs.

Still to come on THE GLOBAL BRIEF, the climate crisis is not a future problem and we'll show you how the Middle East is dealing with some of its

worst impacts now. We head to Iraq, next.


NOBILO: The geopolitical crisis of mass migration is at the front of the news agenda right now. This is a wide array of reasons why people choose to

leave their home countries.

Tonight, I want to focus on the climate crisis, one of the many factors behind migration that is becoming impossible to ignore. In some parts of

the Middle East and south Asia, temperatures are beginning to rise so high that barely fit for human life. We saw that this summer with temperatures

soaring to 51 degrees Celsius in some cities.


It's also causing a water crisis. Decreased rainfall and overpumping of ground water causes drought as water becomes more scarce, all of this could

spin into more conflict and political unrest, and more migration.

Iraq's leaders are acutely aware of the threat of a rapidly warming planet. It's president warning recently at COP26 that climate change has made the

country already scarred by war and conflict one of the most vulnerable nations on earth.

Iraq is almost entirely dependent on oil revenue for survival. The country plans to shift towards clean energy which could create a better path for

the future. But that doesn't solve Iraq's environmental crisis right now.

CNN's Jomana Karadsheh shows us how fossil fuels are already choking the life out of one oil-rich province.


JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For decades they lived in the shadows of this thick black toxic cloud that he said is sufficient

kiting -- is suffocating his Iraqi town. When the wind comes that way, the whole river dies, he says. In my house, my trees and my garden are dead.

The flames burning in this oil field are known as gas flaring, burning off the natural gas produced during oil extraction.

It's a common practice in the oil industry but it is one of the biggest polluters of the planet and Iraq is the world's second worst offender and

it contributes to around 10 percent of the global greenhouse emissions.

Oil is a major driver for the climate crisis but residents here say it is also the cause of a local environmental disaster. It is killing the village

of Nahran Omar, its mayor says. Mayor (INAUDIBLE) said there has been a rise in cancer cases and illnesses in his village over the past decade. In

one neighborhood alone, he says, there are about 40 cancer cases in 130 households, many of them children.

While experts say there is no evidence of a direct link and it is still needs more research, everyone here blames it on the poisonous air they've

been breathing their entire lives. And it is not just this village that is suffering. It is the entire province. Basra sits on some of the largest oil

reserves but its black gold may also be its curse. Officials with the ministry of environment say everything from the remnants of war to

industrial waste contributes to Basra's pollution. But the top polluter they say is the oil industry.

FAIZA AL-RUBAIAE, IRAQI ENVIRONMENT MINISTRY (through translator): Health facilities, landfill sites, sewage filtering stations, leather factories,

power stations, but it is the oil industry activities that are the mother of all pollution in Basra and other provinces. Imagine you keep breathing

this every minute, every day, every month, and every year. That is why we have seen the rates of cancer, especially those related to air pollution

increase on an annual basis.

KARADSHEH: The Iraqi oil ministry is shifting towards clean and green energy. Iraq's also committed to eliminating all routine gas flaring by


But for the few Iraqi environmental activity visits like Falah Hassan, change can't come soon enough.

FALAH HASSAN, IRAQI ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVIST (through translator): The people of Basra, in the midst of an inferno, they are dying of slow death.

Basra is in hell. But people don't feel the slow death because of the gradual environmental impact on their lives.

KARADSHEH: Years of war and sanctions have decimated the country's infrastructure. And with everything Iraqis have been through, he says

raising awareness is a battle.

HASSAN: People don't feel environmental issues are priority. They feel it is luxury. But we are trying to make it a priority for them. This is our


KARADSHEH: Iraq is running out of time. According to a U.N. report, it is the fifth most vulnerable country to the effects of climate change. And

many here say they are feeling the impact.

We used to have a lot of fish and now it's gone, fisherman Hadid Kasas (ph) says. Nothing good comes from this river any more. Everything is gone.

Jomana Karadsheh, CNN, Istanbul.


NOBILO: Now if you're in Croatia, you might spot something rather unique happening overhead. Drones are being used to scatter seeds in hard to reach

remote areas to try to replant forests damaged by fire. The seeds are the size of golf balls and the company managing the venture said more than 40

percent manage to take root in the tests.


One of the projects leaders said the team hopes to take the technology international.


DUSAN JELIC, PROJECT LEADER, MAGIC FOREST (through translator): The project has spread quickly beyond the border because topic is interesting.

Most countries have the same problem within the European Union, but also globally for example in the U.S., we have potential development in

California. For now, we are concentrating on covering Croatia as well as possible, we assume in 2022, we'll do the first planting outside of the



NOBILO: You're watching THE GLOBAL BRIEF. We'll be right back after this.


NOBILO: A free Britney wants to help free others. Just days after the end of her 13-year conservatorship, Britney Spears has given a powerful

statement on social media.


BRITNEY SPEARS, SINGER: I'm just grateful for each day and being able to have the keys to my car and being able to be independent and feel like a

woman, and owning an ATM card, seeing cash for the first time, being able to buy candles. This is the little things for us women but it makes a huge

difference and I'm grateful for that.


NOBILO: Spears says she wants to help and inspire vulnerable people under similar conservatorships. And she ended by thanking her fans who support

she believes may have saved her life.

Thanks for joining us. Good night.