Return to Transcripts main page

The Global Brief with Bianca Nobilo

U.N.: "Travel Apartheid"; Germany's Farewell to Merkel; Conversion Therapy in Canada. Aired 5-5:30p ET

Aired December 02, 2021 - 17:00   ET



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

Tonight, travel apartheid. The U.N. continues to urge countries to drop blanket travel bans on Southern African countries. Why those who have not

are standing by their restrictions.

Then, wiedersehen. Germany gives Merkel a grand farewell, while neighboring Austria's chancellor resigns.

And Canada outlaws conversion therapy. We speak to the minister who introduced that bill.

More than half of all coronavirus cases in Europe could come from the Omicron variant in just a few months. That's according to the European CDC.

They say that preliminary data suggests this new variant has a, quote, substantial advantage over delta. They caveat it though. But there's a lot

that still needs to be learned about Omicron -- transmissibility, severity, and an ability to evade vaccines.

But we're already seeing how fast it's spreading in Africa. The continent has seen a 20 percent increase in overall coronavirus cases in the past

four weeks, driven by the uptick of Omicron in South Africa.

Dozens of countries are sticking by their decisions to ban travel from several Southern African countries despite protests from the WHO and U.N.

Those organizations say it makes no sense to target Africa when Omicron has also been found in Europe and elsewhere. United Nations' chief saying it

amounts to, quote, travel apartheid.

India is one of the countries that's imposed strict travel bans, even delaying the re-opening of its international borders. Omicron cases have

been detected there, one in a person with no travel history.

As Vedika Sud reports, India's response now is shaped by their experience of a devastating wave of the delta variant earlier this year.


VEDIKA SUD, CNN REPORTER: Bianca, with cases of the new Omicron coronavirus that are emerging in several countries, including India, the

South Asian nation has tightened its travel rules. India has reported less than 10,000 confirmed daily cases of COVID-19 for six consecutive days, a

massive drop in case numbers from earlier this year when India had reported over 400,000 daily cases of COVID-19 in the month of May.

Given the population of the country which stand at 1.38 billion, the second highest in the world and the pressure the public health-care system came

under during the second wave, India cannot afford to let down its guard.

On Thursday, India's health care minute city said 84 percent of the population received its first vaccine, which means millions are yet to be

vaccinated. With the Omicron variant now detected in the India, pressures building to completely vaccinate its adult population, a target they want

the achieve by the end of the year, but looks to be a tough task.

For now, India has suspended international flights, which is scheduled to resume mid December, but with the rise in Omicron variant cases worldwide,

a decision on flight bans is expected soon -- Bianca.


NOBILO: Vedika Sud, thank you.

Germany on Thursday announced a nationwide lockdown for the unvaccinated. They'll be allowed only in essential businesses like supermarkets and

pharmacies -- entertainment, restaurants and bars, off limits.

Yesterday, the country reported 446 deaths, its highest number in nine months. Hospitals are struggling to cope with intensive care patients and

warning that they will be overwhelmed.

Outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel and her successor are also considering another mandate.


ANGELA MERKEL, GERMAN CHANCELLOR (through translator): Mandatory vaccinations will be discussed and voted on in the general Bundestag and

the government and states will ask the ethics counsel to work out a recommendation by year's end. Mandatory vaccinations could then if approved

in parliament become effective around February 2022.


NOBILO: After leading Germany for 16 years, Ms. Merkel is bowing out gracefully.

Hours ago, the German military honored her with their highest ceremony for a civilian, playing some music that she chose herself. She's due to be

succeeded by social Democrat Olaf Scholz next week after her party, the Christian Democratic Union, had its worst showing ever in September's

federal election.

Ms. Merkel had already chosen not to run again.


MERKEL: It is now up to the next government to find answers to the channels that lie ahead of us and to shape our future. For that, Dear Olaf

Scholz, I wish and the German government led by you all the best, good fortune, and best of success.


NOBILO: Austria's chancellor will also be leaving his post. Alexander Schallenberg revealed he's stepping down less than two month after he took

the job. Schallenberg was put into the role after his predecessor, Sebastian Kurz, resigned abruptly amid a corruption scandal.

In a statement to CNN, Schallenberg said he firmly believes that both positions, chancellor and head of the party, should be held by the same

person. But it didn't stop there. Mr. Kurz also made a surprising announcement say he's leaving politics all together.

This is creating a power vacuum when there's a dire need for leadership during the pandemic, with Austria extending its lockdown this week.

Now, after what's been described as a diplomatic clash behind closed doors, the U.S. secretary of state and Russian foreign minister discussed their

concerns over Ukraine in public today. We heard a will the of same warnings at the meeting in Sweden that have made headlines over the past few weeks

but a new point of agreement did emerge -- the need for presidents Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin to talk directly. The U.S. and NATO are growing

increasingly alarmed at Russia's buildup near Ukraine's border, demanding a pullback.


ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: It's now on Russia to de-escalate the current tensions by reversing the recent troop buildup, returning

forces to normal peacetime positions and refraining from further intimidation and attempts to destabilize Ukraine.


NOBILO: Lavrov denied Moscow intends to attack Ukraine. He accused NATO of escalating the situation and demanded a halt to its eastward expansion.

Before today's meeting, the Kremlin said the probability of a new conflict in eastern Ukraine remained high.

Chinese state media has strong word for the women's tennis association over its suspension of all tournaments in the country. The WTA's action comes

amid the controversy over Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai who publicly accused a former top Chinese official of sexual assault. China suggests the

WTA is making the move for its political and commercial benefit, but the organization's chairman says that they believe Peng is now being coerced

into sending emails opposing the boycott and retracting her allegations.


STEVE SIMON, CHAIRMAN & CEO, WOMEN'S TENNIS ASSOCIATION: They were significant, and they were detailed, and now to be receiving the emails and

the correspondence from her that certainly are very -- they're just 100 percent orchestrated, and I do not think that they reflect what the

allegations did and the true position. I could only imagine the range of emotion, feelings she's going through.


NOBILO: The International Olympic Committee says it thinks Peng is doing fine. An IOC team held a second video chat with Peng Wednesday, but it's

not providing pictures or video. The Winter Olympics are just two months away.

Let's take a look at the over key stories making international impact today. Spanish mariners rescued almost 300 people from five small

inflatable boats Wednesday off Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands. But one didn't make it, a baby who was found dead on one of the boats. African

migrants frequently try to reach the islands as a way to set foot on Spanish soil.

The U.S., along with some of its allies are imposing new economic sanctions on Belarus. They're meant to increase pressure on President Alexander

Lukashenko and his government in response to the crisis on the board with Poland and ongoing human rights violations.

Israel is calling on world powers to immediately suspend their new round of nuclear talks with Iran. It come after a nuclear watchdog said Iran is now

producing enriched European with more advantage centrifuges, and it says it's happening at a facility that under the 2015 deal isn't suppose to be

processing uranium at all.

Last month we brought you a distressing story about child marriage in Afghanistan. Many of you were particularly disturbed by the case of a 9-

year-old Parwana who was sold into marriage to a 55-year-old man for around $2,000. Her father said this was the only option to feed his family.

CNN was granted rare permission to document the disturbing sale and handover. After an international outcry following the story, a U.S.-based

nonprofit Too Young to Wed got involved and rescued Parwana.

CNN was there to document it and Anna Coren brings us this exclusive report.


ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): An Iranian love song plays from a cassette as a driver navigates his way through the snow dusted

Laghman Valley in northwestern Afghanistan. Crammed in the back of his station wagon is a mother and her six children, who've just left behind a

life of constant struggle and hardship, all they've ever known.

Among them, 9-year-old Parwana.

Our cameraman Saddiqui asks her how she's feeling.

I'm so happy, she says, with a beaming smile.

CNN met Parwana, dressed in the pink, in an internally displaced campaign in Badghis province back in October. Her father claims he was selling her

to feed the rest of the family, as a humanitarian crisis grips the country. He'd already sold his 12-year-old into marriage and told CNN that unless

his situation improved, he would have to sell his four remaining daughters as well, including the youngest, just 2.

If I didn't have these daughters to sell, he asks, what should I do?

Parwana's buyer who lived in a nearby village confirmed he was taking the 9-year-old as his second wife.

QORBAN, BUYER OF PARWANA (through translator): I'm 55 years old. I have a wife with four daughters and a son. I bought her for myself. I will wait

until she becomes older.

COREN: CNN was granted rare access to film the final payment and handover. The buyer asks for it to take place at a house in hits village and not the

camp for security reasons. He paid a total of 200,000 Afghanis, just over 2,000 U.S. dollars for Parwana in land, sheep, and cash.

This is your bride, please take care of her, says Parwana's father.

Of course, I will take care of her, replies the man.

As he drags her away, she whimpers.

Moments, later -- she digs her heels into the dirt, refusing to go. But it's hopeless.

CNN's story caused an outcry.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Our world lead now, and a distressing story out of Afghanistan, showing --

COREN: The network was inundated with offers from the public, aid organizations, and NGOs, wanting to assist her and other girls featured in

our story. The U.S. based charity, Too Young to Wed, took the lead. Its founding executive director, Stephanie Sinclair, has been working to end

childhood marriage and help vulnerable girls around the world for almost 20 years.

She says the perfect storm is brewing in Afghanistan, and it's the girls that are suffering.

STEPHANIE SINCLAIR, FOUNDER, TOO YOUNG TO WED: I know these stories are difficult to watch and difficult to do and, they bring around a lot of

concern, but at the same time, we need to keep people understanding that this is happening. We need to keep ringing the alarm bell. Understand these

are real girls and real lives, and they can be changed.

COREN: Within Badghis Province, there was widespread backlash towards Parwana's father and the buyer after our story went to air, with claims

they brought shame on the community. Even the Taliban told CNN the practice is forbidden.

MAWLAWI BAZ MOHAMMAD SARWARY, BADGHIS INFORMATION & CULTURE DIRECTORATE: I request everyone not to sell their children. Child marriage is not a good

thing, and we condemn it.

COREN: Human rights activist and U.S. citizen Mahbouba Seraj who chose the stay in Kabul after the Taliban swept to power in August to run her woman

shelter says Parwana's case is just the tip of the iceberg.

MAHBOUBA SERAJ, AFGHAN WOMEN'S RIGHTS ACTIVIST: There's a lot of misery. There is a lot of mistreatment. There is a lot of abuse involve in these

things, and it will keep on happening. With the hunger, with the winter, with poverty.

COREN: As a result of the controversy caused by the story, an intervention from the charity, Parwana was allowed to return home after almost two weeks

with the buyer's family.

Since Parwana has been rescued, I'm very happy for that, says Parwana's father. He admitted to CNN that under duress from the community and some

local media outlets, he changed his story out of embarrassment for what he done and apologized. The buyer is unreachable for comment, but the debt is

still outstanding.

Too Young to Wed then organized to have Parwana, her mother, and siblings removed from the camp with the father's permission. Their four-hour journey

to a neighboring Heart province was broken up with some childhood fun, before arriving at the motel.

For children who have only ever live in the a tent, the novelty of being warm, fed, and safe wasn't wearing off.

They rescued me. They've given me a new life, says Parwana. I thank the charity for helping me.

A few days later, they moved into the safe house. Parwana's mother, a 27- year-old Reza Gol (ph), has never lived in a house. She was sold into marriage at 13 and has since had seven children, six of whom were girls.

Most days in the camp, she would beg for food and often here family would go to sleep hungry. Now all she wants is to give her children a better


I have a dream, a wish they go to school and start an education, she says. I have a lot of wishes for them.

Too young to wed has already begun distributing aid to Parwana's impoverished camp, among others. While the small charity is prepared to

bridge the gap, they're calling on the large aid organizations to step up.

SINCLAIR: These are communities that have relied on international aid for the last 20 years, and so with a lot of that aid stopping, these people

didn't stop needing support. We can't let them pay the price, because ultimately, girls always pay the biggest price.

COREN: I speak to Parwana on zoom through my colleague Bashir (ph).

Hello, Parwana, I'm Anna.

TRANSLATOR: How are you? How are you feeling?

COREN: I'm very good. Thank you. How are you?

TRANSLATOR: I'm fine. I'm so happy. I'm safe. I rescued.

COREN: Then she asks, when are you sending me to school?

She wants to study and become a doctor or a teacher, but fairy tale endings are few and far between for girls in Afghanistan, even more so now than


Anna Coren, CNN.


NOBILO: If you would like to help girls like Parwana, please visit You can learn more about their work in Afghanistan and

how you can be part of the solution.

Next, in a world where some celebrate pride, others hold on to prejudice. But lawmakers in Canada have now voted to ban something deeply traumatic

for LGBTQ people. We'll explain, next.


NOBILO: No one else is going to go through what they went through -- the words of a minister in Canada why lawmakers have voted unanimously to ban

conversion therapy. Campaigners have been fighting for years to get a bill passed. It now needs to be approved by the upper house. Conversion therapy,

which has been likened to torture, attempts to change a person's sexual orientation or gender identity. It's widely considered infective and banned

outright in Brazil, Ecuador, Malta, Germany, and Albania.

Other countries have had partial bans or have had discussions to outlaw it entirely. Canada's minister says today is an important -- to understand

yourself the way you are. The bill was introduced to Canada's parliament by Marci Ien, a minister for women, gender, equality and youth.

And Marci joins us from Toronto. It is wonderful to have you on the program. Thank you so much for joining us.

MARCI IEN, CANADIAN MINISTER FOR WOMEN, GENDER EQUALITY & YOUTH: It's great to be with you, Bianca. Thanks for having me.

NOBILO: Please, can talk us through the significance of this bill. The first I believe you've introduced as a minister, and what legal changes it

would actually implement?

IEN: Bianca, you're right. I became the minister of women and gender equality and youth just several weeks ago, and so this is the first bill,

and I'm thrilled that it's the first bill. To get unanimous consent for every parliamentarian to say in the House, we want this to go straight to

the Senate, is extraordinary. This is the third time, our government's third attempt to get this done, and we do believe it will be done this

time, but we'll await the Senate's decision and, of course, we're (INAUDIBLE).

NOBILO: And what can you tell us about what the bill would actually implement? What changes would we see? And what effect will have for the

LGBTQ community in Canada?

IEN: So, this time around, Bianca, the bill had more teeth. And I say this because it includes adults as well. So if this bill becomes law, if you're

an adult in Canada, you can't get conversion therapy. It goes wider.

And the reason we did that -- you mentioned the Justice Minister David Lametti. At justice committee we heard from lots of witnesses, more than 30

witnesses who came forward, survivors of conversion therapy with their stories. And they told stories, frankly, of torture. They told stories

where they say they were broken. They told stories where they said they continue to have PTSD, how this has changed them as people, how they had

suicidal thoughts, all of these things.

And after hearing this, it was decided that we would expand this bill to include adults. So, it is different this time around because it is wider.

NOBILO: And as you mention there, this practice has been likened to torture. We know it's well-documented the impact this has on people for the

rest of their lives. But obviously, we have an international audience here, so could you explain what this actually entails for people? Because I think

the name, conversion therapy, in and of itself is as bit of a misnomer.

IEN: You're right, Bianca. And this is why we say conversion therapy practices. Because there's nothing therapeutic about it. This bill does not

criminalize exploratory conversations with a person's parents or a religious leader like a pastor or priest or rabbi.

This is targeting people that actually have business or practices to try to change someone's sexual orientation or gender identity. That's what's

happening here. And at places like this, we heard from people who went to conversion therapy camps where they were partly clothed in some cases,

where they were meant to chant or try to almost pray away who they were. We heard of even shock therapy in some instances.

So you're right, when we say the word conversion therapy, it sounds like something gentle, maybe kind, but it is anything but. It is torture, and

this is what MPs, this is what parliamentarians in Canada decided to unanimously consent to and send this straight to the senate.

NOBILO: Are you hoping this unanimous support for your bill will help create momentum internationally? Because especially when you put it as you

just did, this is not gentle. This is barbaric and traumatic for people. Why do you think there are so many countries that haven't made a move to

make this illegal?

IEN: I think there is momentum right now. When you look at the U.N. independent expert on sexual orientation, he has said, listen, this

practice should be outlawed completely.

So there is momentum right now, but I want to take your point and I want to speak directly, Bianca, to activists, global activists out there, activists

in other countries to say, do not give up. Keep fighting. Keep doing what you're doing. Keep the momentum alive, because for sure change starts at

the grassroots level.

This is why we expanded our bill, because we listened. Change starts there. So it means -- and I'm hoping when people see what we're done in Canada,

they will be inspired by that to continue, because it starts with activists here in Canada. We see activists, we see community groups. We see people on

the ground doing what they have to do speaking out about this. We were inspired by them to be better, and that's why y-4 is better than it was.

NOBILO: Have you faced any opposition politically, domestically to this bill? And if you have, or more widely, what do you think of the core

beliefs or ideologies that provide that resistance?

IEN: Well, we don't have to look too far back for the last session of parliament, Bianca, to know that 62 conservative MPs in the Canadian House

of Commons have stood up, and they were against this bill and the passing of the former bill, and so that's not too long ago in our country. But what

it says is -- and we are in a minority government here in Canada. And what it says is that there is a way to work together.

What has happened and needs to continue to happen is people reaching across party lines.


And I will tell you that's what happened this time, because I know I did, the justice minister did and I know others to talk to people in other

parties to talk with them and share stories with them as I did with you of people who have suffered greatly and what this that means and what it means

that they stand up and vote against this bill. And what it means to be on the right side of history.

NOBILO: Well, congratulations to you for this bill's passage so far, and best of luck for the next step in the upper house. Thank you so much, Marci


IEN: Bianca, thank you so much. Stay well.

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


NOBILO: Sanitation and social media might not seem like an obvious combination. But an influencer in Jordan is proving they can be a good mix

when it comes to encouraging people to keep their city clean. Twenty-three- year-old Ahmad Al Nserat has become a start on TikTok after posting fun videos of himself at work, sweeping the streets and collecting garbage in

the Jordanian capital, Amman.


AHMAD AL NSERAT, SANITATION WORKER & INFLUENCER: I feel that both of them, being a sanitation worker and social media influencer are linked to each

other. First an all, as part of my job as a sanitation worker, I keep the streets clean. At the same time, I send awareness messages through social

media and my job as a sanitation worker. I'm proud of my job.


NOBILO: Ahmad says that his ultimate dream is to become an actor. His popularity on TikTok certainly won't hurt him there.

Thank you for watching. We'll see you again tomorrow.