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Taliban Unveil Government as Humanitarian Crisis Intensifies; Taliban Detain Protesters, Fire Over Their Heads; Mixed Emotions as Student Return to School in England; Britney Spears' Father Petitions to End Conservatorship. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired September 08, 2021 - 01:00   ET




JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, this is CNN Newsroom. I'm John Vause. Coming up this hour, the Taliban reveal that all mail al-Qaeda friendly hardline, Old Guard caretaking government of a country facing a humanitarian crisis. Surely powerful earthquake broke the resort, city of Acapulco in Mexico, tremors for hundreds of kilometers away in the capital.

And could Britney soon be free. The father was set to legally and his court ordered control over every aspect of his daughter's life.

Just days before the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks in the United States, and the Taliban once again in control of Afghanistan unveiling a caretaker government, which seems little changed in terms of hardline Islamic fundamentalism support for terror groups, especially al Qaeda are also winding the clock back 20 years on women's rights.

The cabinet includes the former inmates from Guantanamo Bay, part of a prisoner trade by the U.S. in 2014, the Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl. The leader of the U.S. designated terror group, the Haqqani Network, is now the Minister for police and security. He also happens to be on the FBI's most wanted list has a multimillion-dollar bounty on his head.

No women have been named to any leadership or advisory posts, but a growing number of women are protesting against Taliban rule. And the response has been gunfire, beatings, and arrests. That was a peaceful protest. More now from CNN's Nic Robertson.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice-over): In the biggest challenge to Taliban rule so far, women and men talk to Kabul streets, demanding an end to the Taliban's military offensives.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are here for this protesting for our human rights, we want to stop killing. ROBERTSON: Anger too at Pakistan, who many Afghans blame for the Taliban's rapid rise to power. The Taliban responding with gunfire, this time at least over protesters heads. Also detaining some of the women, beating and arresting several journalists before releasing them several hours later, according to social media recounts. The Taliban commander at the protests blaming America.

What is there to protest against he said, we're in an emergency situation. The United States is giving the money. There is no other problem.

The hours later, the Taliban announcing their new caretaker government top jobs to hardliners with a track record of imposing a strict interpretation of Islamic law. The powerful Interior Ministry going to Sirajuddin Haqqani, the FBI says he has close ties to al Qaeda as a $5 million bounty on his head and is under U.N. sanctions for connections to terrorism. I was earlier in Qatar Secretary of State and Antony Blinken indicating the United States is in communication with the Taliban leadership.

ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We've been assured again, that all American citizens and Afghan citizens with valid travel documents will be allowed to leave. And again, we intend to hold the Taliban to that.

ROBERTSON: On Monday, the Taliban overrunning the lost pockets of anti-Taliban resistance in the Panjshir Valley, consolidating their power across the whole country, deepening U.S. dependence on Taliban commitments to stop al Qaeda attacking America.

LLOYD AUSTIN, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: There's no question that it will be more difficult to identify and engage threats that emanate from the region.

ROBERTSON: At the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, the Taliban banner painted on the wall subtext, we know you won't be back for a while. Despite the ongoing turmoil, some aid flights landing in the Capitol, the UN's top eight official met with Taliban leaders too but what's arrived so far, woefully short of what the country needs.

JENS LAERKE, U.N. OFFICE FOR THE COORDINATION OF HUMANITARIAN AFFAIRS: Basic services in Afghanistan are collapsing and food and other life- saving aid is about to run out.

ROBERTSON: Pressures on the Taliban new caretaker government already mounting. Nick Robertson, CNN, Islamabad, Pakistan.



VAUSE: CNN's Anna Coren has covered Afghanistan extensively. She was recently in Kabul. She joins me now live from Hong Kong.

The images that we saw were for protests in Kabul of women and some men protesting against the Taliban. But these protests have been widespread and has been said it takes incredible courage for people to protest, for women to protest. So, a lot of people just simply too afraid, even though they may have shared feelings?

ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, extraordinary courage, John, and I guess as a woman, you know, it is so heartening to see you having spent time with these educated women. You have to remember, there is this generation of women particularly in in Kabul, this metropolis of 5, 6 million people that have only grown up under democracy. Now they're being faced with this new Taliban government that wants to send them back to the Dark Ages, yet these women are University educated, these women, you know, some of them have traveled that they've -- they have access to the internet, they know how the outside world, you know, functions. They also know what democracy tastes like. So, to think that they are going to just fall in line under this oppressive government that wants to not see them, really, I mean, that is what it comes down to.

There is no representation of women within this government, that the Ministry of women's Affairs has totally been scrapped, even though the Taliban will say that this is just an acting government. They don't address that properly. But there is no minister for women's affairs amongst these 33 (inaudible), of which 32 of them are (inaudible). So, the idea that he is going to be this inclusive government that it has changed over the past 20 years, that is going to represent all of society is just plain false.

And we are learning, John, that women are going to continue to protest, and protests are being organized for the coming days. And I guess for those people who are staying at home who don't want to leave, you know, leave their homes and fear of the Taliban, this will embolden them. This will give them confidence that they too can join this national uprising. And as you say, it's not just happening in Kabul, it's happening in Herat, where two people were killed in a number were injured in their protest yesterday. It's happening in Mazar-i-Sharif up in the north of the country. So, people right around Afghanistan, John, I guess voicing their disgust about what is taking place under this new Taliban leadership.

VAUSE: Yeah, Anna, thank you. Anna Coren. I can tell you from my point of view, it's heartening to see them as well protesting.

COREN: Of course, of course.

VAUSE: Thanks Anna, appreciate it. Anna Coren, live in Hong Kong.

Joining us now from Kabul is Nur Hayati Ahmad, head of Afghanistan Operations for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

Yachty, thank you for taking the time to be with us.


VAUSE: If possible, I'd like some specific details if you have them right now, from your assessment in terms of days or weeks, how long before food and medical supplies are exhausted? How many people will be directly impacted, and in what way?

AHMAD: Well, I wouldn't be able to say it in a matter of months or weeks. But we are looking at the background of a country that has been facing drought for the past year or so since the beginning of this year. So that the food situation is actually getting very urgent. And the people of Afghanistan really need food supply. Wheat is their main food because they eat bread. So therefore, this is the most critical need that is we are seeing right now.

VAUSE: And I understand that malnutrition is just on the rise across the country. With that in mind, is there one thing, is there one urgent need, which needs to be filled right now that if you had to -- if you had your choice here, what would it be? What would be a one demand?

AHMAD: Well, for the banking system to function as normal again, so that the people will be able to access their money and buy the food even though food is now at an inflated rate. And, of course, with the -- if with the borders opening as well, that will help people to gain access to their basic needs like food as well as the household items that they will require.

VAUSE: Because the banks are still operating to a limited extent but the amount of money that people can withdraw, those who do have some savings is being severely limited. And that's the major, that's one of the major problems right now. And it's much worse beyond Kabul as I understand.

AHMAD: It is true. Right now, people have a maximum of either 20,000 Afghani or $200 to withdraw every week. This is based on the latest updates that we have received. And only individuals can withdraw their money at this point in time.


VAUSE: There's also the problem, you know, when you look around many shops remain close, there's problems with supply lines getting through to actually enter the country actually say this country have been facing drought as well. This is a crisis, which is long in the making, before the current political turmoil, that certainly has not helped. But it does seem to be going from bad to worse. And if nothing is done, where does this end up?

AHMAD: Well, we are looking at a severe drought condition. And in in the next two months, we will see winter as well. So, we are going to see a humanitarian crisis that is going to be extremely complex. And we need to ensure that the needs of the population are addressed as quickly as possible, so that when winter comes at least they have some kind of help in place, so that they can go through the winter without much problems at the moment.

VAUSE: Winter is -- sorry to interrupt. Winter, if I remember correctly, is extremely brutal in parts of Afghanistan, it can be very, very cold. And it's also going to be very, very cold and brutal with a pandemic happening and raging across the country as well. These crises which is just sort of mounting up one on top of the other, and I also decided that a lot of doctors and medics haven't been paid. So, this is yet another issue which has to be dealt with, right?

AHMAD: Yes, now, the health system is crumbling, which is one of the things that we are very, very concerned about. Afghan Red Crescent has 140 health facilities that are currently functioning and is still functioning throughout the crisis. We are expecting that we will see a larger amount of people coming through our health facilities as some health facilities have closed down due to either people have gone out of country, organizations have gone out of country or because of funding challenges that is currently happening.

VAUSE: Well, number of a groups have withdrawn from the country because of obvious reasons. But the Red Cross Red Crescent, you're still there. We're still doing good work. We wish you all the very best. Thank you for being with us. Nur Hayati Ahmad, thank you so much.

AHMAD: Thank you.

VAUSE: Here's your break. When we come back, Cuba has begun vaccinating most children against COVID-19 while the U.S. is struggling with the growing number of infections in minors, also ahead.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This pandemic did not need to be this bad.


VAUSE: The opportunity missed the World Health Organization says we did have a chance to eliminate COVID-19. So, what do we do now? More on that in a moment.



VAUSE: Britney Spears' attorney declaring a massive legal win in the popstars fight to regain control of her multimillion-dollar estate. This comes after her father Jamie Spears filed a petition to end a 13- year court or a conservatorship that has seen him overseeing her personal affairs, health issues and finances, pretty much everything.

The petition said the thing is circumstances have changed enough that grounds for conservatorship may no longer exist. Pressure has been mounting on Jamie Spears for months after his daughter accused him of years of abusive treatment.

In Cuba, they're vaccinating all children two years and older against COVID or part of the government's efforts to fully vaccinate 90% of the population by December. Children will receive two doses of Cuba's vaccine after the state-owned manufacturer said it was found to be safe in trials. Cuba also ramping up adult vaccinations in an effort to reopen the country to tourists. The aim is to have that ready by November. Meantime, in the U.S. children now account for more than a quarter of all new weekly COVID cases. The American Academy of Pediatrics says new child infections are up 250% since like July, more than 5 million U.S. children have tested positive for the virus since the pandemic began. And millions of students in England heading back to school this week. But emotions have mixed as the COVID infection rate is even higher than it was last year. We get more now from CNN's Nina dos Santos.


NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At Birchwood High School just north of London pupils are happy to be back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think by the inflation program on.

DOS SANTOS: IT lessons like these no longer have to be taught online. And waiting in line for the sports hall isn't as tedious as it once seemed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm happy to be back. It's nice to be around everyone again.

AIDAN LUCAS, 10 YEAR STUDENT: It's been really good especially to be back after having the homeschooling.

CHRIS INGATE, PRINCIPAL, BIRCHWOOD HIGH SCHOOL: Along here, you can see slightly narrower corridor. So, we've had to use the one-way systems otherwise there would be a lot of congestion. We've got hand sanitization pretty much everywhere.

DOS SANTOS: With nearly 9 million children are returning to school across England this week, head teachers are doing all they can to contain COVID against a country wide infection rate much higher than a year ago.

INGATE: We've retained many of the COVID measures that we had last year like the one-way systems, the recreation on social bubbles because the students actually liked them, they prefer them so offsetting against the relaxations of face masks, so they remain optional.

DOS SANTOS: The success of the U.K.'s vaccination program for adults has given educators confidence these gates can stay open. But uncertainty over whether 12 to 15-year-olds should be immunized is worrying some parents. And there's concern that measures to ensure proper ventilation of classrooms haven't been adequately funded.

Schools have been promised 300,000 air quality monitors, this school alone with its 14,150 pupils will need 150 of the devices it has yet to receive one.

(On camera): Is the government, at the moment, doing enough to keep everybody safe in the classroom?

KATY RODERICK, LANGUAGES TEACHER: I'm not sure the government is, I think our school is, I think we've continued with a lot of the measures that we'd had before. The one-way systems, the doors open and the cleaning routines that we've had.

DOS SANTOS: Students and teachers are excited to be back. But keeping COVID under control for a school of this size is a balancing act. To ensure everyone's safety, the government is recommending that all staff and pupils at English high schools get tested for COVID twice a week. Here that's already revealed nine positive cases.

(Voice-over): The end of a policy of isolating anyone in contact with a suspected COVID case, rather than just close contacts of confirmed infections will make a huge difference to Oscar. He doesn't yet know if his exams will be in-person this year, but he's still studying for them in the hopes of attending university.

OSCAR FOLWELL, FINAL YEAR STUDENT: I myself had to self-isolate probably five or six times. When I'm at school, I'm learning very well. And when I'm at home, I've got so many distractions and you just lose the world to actually learn.

DOS SANTOS: The lesson those in this school say they've learned is that kids are better off in class.

INGATE: I do think you just need to get on with it. I think all of us have had enough but we're still cautious.


DOS SANTOS: Across England children are now back in school. But without more clarity and advanced notice on government policy, it's been difficult for schools to get back to normal. Nina dos Santos, CNN in Hertfordshire, England.


VAUSE: Now comes word from the World Health Organization that the worst of the pandemic could have been avoided. But the world has a chance to eliminate the virus.


MARIA VAN KERKHOVE, WHO COVID-19 TECHNICAL LEAD: We had a chance in the beginning of this pandemic. I like not to think of the what ifs too much, because it's a very difficult thing for me to think through. This pandemic did not need to be this bad.


VAUSE: Dr. Yvonne Maldonado is an infectious disease specialist with Stanford Medicine and a senior fellow at the Stanford Center for Innovation in Global Health. Doctor, thank you being with us.


VAUSE: OK. Well, we did have this shot. It was very early on, the WHO now says that this virus is essentially here to stay. I want you to listen to Mike Ryan, he's Director of the WHO's Health Emergencies Program, here he is.


DR. MIKE RYAN, EXEC. DIR. WHO HEALTH EMERGENCIES PROGRAMME: I fully expect that this virus will continue to transmit for a very long time. The question is whether it's still causing a public health emergency. And that is determined by how many people it's making severely ill, how many people that virus is killing? And to what extent we've controlled transmission. But will this virus disappear? No. That's the reality. I think this virus is here to stay with us.


VAUSE: So, what does that now mean for the future? What does the future look like? And what does this mean for countries like New Zealand and China and Australia which have had this zero COVID strategy?

MALDONADO: Well, from the very beginning of the pandemic, I was thinking that there could be two scenarios and one was, the more likely. The first was that something miraculous would happen like with SARS, which just disappeared from, you know, very rapidly, and we don't really know why, it may have mutated away. That was the whole and the other was that it would do something more like what the 1918 flu did and would take a few years and we build up immunity and eventually it would get less and less virulent or malignant among people.

And that's where we hope this will go, we think that this virus may begin to develop enough mutations that we hope enough people will develop immunity with vaccination, and other natural immunity, and then the virus itself will start to get less and less severe. And so, it may become a regular cold virus like its cousins have.

VAUSE: But there is this variant which continue to emerge. And now we're looking at the Mu variant, I think which was first discovered in Colombia. It's not very prevalent worldwide, but it is very prevalent in Colombia really 39% of cases there. It's also present in the United States. It's a variant of interest, not a variant of concern at this point. But it does have the characteristics of maybe be able to evade the vaccines and any kind of immune response. So that does seem to be at least from the World Health Organization. So, we look at how do you see it?

MALDONADO: Well, it is a variant of interest for sure, or and think about how -- what it looks like, it looks like the Beta variant. And remember, the Beta variant started off a while back really hasn't taken off around the world because it's not just about (inaudible) the immune response, it's also about how transmissible it is. Delta beats them all hands down. So, I think Delta is really going to be the dominant virus for some time to come.

Now, hopefully, it'll beat out the Mu virus until maybe another variant comes along that's more transmissible even than that, and hopefully not as severe. So again, we don't know what will happen next. But right now, Delta is here to stay for some time. And transmissibility appears to be more important for a virus to survive than whether or not it can defeat your immune system.

VAUSE: And we have the Delta variant, which is just so highly contagious. And parts of a new daily infection records are higher than they've been since the start of the pandemic. And we're now sending kids back into a closed room surrounded by other kids, and often poorly vented schools. You're given the airborne spread of the Delta variant, the fact it's so contagious, I mean, should we be reassessing this right now? Should we, you know, just essentially return to virtual learning, just out of an abundance of caution?

MALDONADO: Well, first of all, I've been working -- many of us in healthcare have been working in hospitals, side by side for four months now. And the infection rates among healthcare workers or walking around all the time around sick people are not coming from hospital setting. So, you know, it's possible to be close to people as long as you're wearing masks, and especially if you're vaccinated. So, school settings that are properly set up that have been monitored quite well, the Los Angeles school district for example, here in the United States, it's the second largest school district in the country, over 700,000 children, learners had almost no infections to speak of, because they're masking and they're testing the kids and all the people around them are being vaccinated.

So, it is possible, but you have to do it right. As you heard in the piece that you ran, they need to make sure that there's enough masking and that people are taking precautions. And it is much worse right now for children to stay at home and not get the benefit of learning in- person, at least, as long as there are good precautions being taken at school.

VAUSE: That's a good point to end on. I would like, if people talk about vaccinations and wearing masks as opposed to vaccinations, and all masks but we'll see how we go. Dr. Maldonado, thank you so much for being with us.

MALDONADO: Thank you so much.

VAUSE: I'm taking a break. When we come back protests have been growing fears with Brazil's democracy after the country's president attacks the election system and the judiciary. Also, an historic day in Mexico as the country's top court rules. Abortion is not a crime. What that means to Mexican women. That's it.


VAUSE: Welcome back, everyone. I'm John Vause. You're watching CNN Newsroom. And we are following developments out of Southwest Mexico. Very powerful earthquake struck several hours ago. The epicenter of the magnitude seven quake was not far from the coastal resort city of Acapulco. A tsunami warning has been canceled for the region.

Power lines and trees were brought down, some buildings and cars sustained amount of damage. Mexico's President says no casualties have been reported.

The tremors were felt always 400 kilometers away in Mexico City with reports the ground was shaking for almost a minute. The mayor of Mexico City says work is underway now to repair some power outages.

CNN Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri is with us now for more. And this was a fairly shallow quake. The epicenter was only about seven miles underground, which often but not always, you know they're shallow, they could be very destructive, but not this time.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Not this time, you know, it was near a base of a mountain, John, but it's close to a population density being very high here in close distance to the population of almost 700,000 people in Acapulco really what made this earthquake that much more dangerous, and we know at least 50 million people across Mexico felt this quake, most of them on the lighter end of the scale as far as the shaking is concerned, but just 20 kilometers northeast of Acapulco and you'll notice comes in just before 10 p.m. local time, almost 2 a.m. UTC. 7.0 is certainly a serious quake and you take a look, population again exceeding 50 million as far as the USGS estimates put as far as how many people felt this, but the highest population count, the highest strongest


shaking, I should say was right there near Acapulco, we're just about everyone felt very strong shaking in relation to the quake.

So when you look at these quakes and the magnitude of seven to eight comes in as a major potential of an earthquake as far as damage is concerned. So, we're going to see exactly how things play out. And we know the USGS gave an orange pager which on a scale of one to three, that is the mid-scale threats.

And you'll notice, in our planets every single year, about 15 quakes reach this threshold, an average of about once per month, do we see a 7.0. And the concern is when you look at the amount of damage left behind, again, based on historical data of quakes in this particular region, there have been plenty of them. Estimates put it that between 100 million to maybe even a billion dollars in losses from infrastructural damage to this region could have been observed.

So we'll follow the latest and see what plays out here. And we know fatalities also the USGS gives the highest probability to fall in line to at least 100 fatalities. So a serious enough quake here to certainly get a lot of people's attention. And we know several aftershocks have already been observed. 4.2, 4.9 statistically speaking as 7.0, John, does bring in at least one 6.0 plus aftershock that has yet to happen, and at least 10 5.0 is that is also yet to happen. So these are things we'll be following here on CNN.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: And the good news is that early warning system in Mexico -- in Mexico City worked effectively. So, like I said, prepared this time. Pedram, thank you.

Well, the president of Brazil called them to take to the streets and they did and they tens of thousands. His loyal supporters enthusiastically cheering as they also know threatened to plunge the country into a constitutional crisis.

In Sao Paulo, they clashed with police not far from the Supreme Court. Bolsonaro used Independence Day celebrations to attack the country's highest court and undermine the election system calling it a farce. Meantime, opposition protests also took place in major cities Tuesday. CNN's Shasta Darlington has more now reporting in from San Paolo.


SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He asked his supporters to rally on Brazil's Independence Day, they heeded his call. In the streets of Brazil's largest cities, Tuesday, thousands gathered in support of President Jair Bolsonaro.

At one of the rallies, the far-right leader assured them of his staying power.

Only God can get me out of here, Bolsonaro told crowd in Sao Paulo, Tuesday. I will leave my post only ever rested, killed or defeated, he said.

In the capital, some of his most ardent backers met with tear gas and police barriers as they tried to march towards the Supreme Court. It's a show of force against the judiciary clashing with Bolsonaro over changes to the voting system and investigations into the President's allies.

Amid judicial inquiries declining poll numbers, a raging pandemic and a teetering economy. Bolsonaro try to embolden his followers on Independence Day, in what some critics fear may soon be a claim to power.

Patriots he said, Tuesday, this is priceless. It is the awakening of a nation the certainty that we will be great in the future.

Along with protests supporting the president, sizable crowds turned out to voice their opposition.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): And all that may spread out everywhere in the world that are vaccinations and here we've got over 500,000 deaths. We don't have to wait until 2022 for the elections. We need to kick Bolsonaro out now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (through translator): The country is going backwards. They are destroying education, destroying health systems. Everything bad is happening to our Brazil.

DARLINGTON: In Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, Bolsonaro detractors pointed to his handling of the pandemic is one of their biggest concerns. They say he's sowing doubts in Brazil's institutions as a ploy to challenge the results of next year's election.

Opinion polls show he would lose but defeat may be the last option for Bolsonaro as Latin America's largest democracy braces for what's to come. Shasta Darlington, CNN, Sao Paulo.


VAUSE: Protests in El Salvador's capital Tuesday of the Central American country became the first in the world to adopt Bitcoin as legal tender, most are concerned over its market volatility. Case in point, Bitcoins value briefly plunged 10 percent Tuesday.

A landmark ruling in Mexico the country's Supreme Court now says it's unconstitutional to punish abortion as a crime. CNN's Rafael Romo explains it represents an historic shift from the majority Catholic nation.


RAFAEL ROMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): There's long been a disconnect between the relatively liberal capital and the generally more conservative states here in Mexico, especially in the north, in this mainly Catholic country, but the fact that the Mexican Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that penalizing abortion is unconstitutional sets a precedent that will be applied in the country's 32 states.


And here it is very important to point out that this was a unanimous vote. The main issue the court was to consider was whether it is constitutional to punish a woman who has an abortion with a prison sentence. The ruling stems from a law enacted in the northern state of Coahuila, which said that women who get an abortion may be punished with up to three years in prison and a fine. Justice Ana Margarita Rios Farjat, one of three women on the court said the ruling has to do with the rights of the individual. Although she's aware, she pointed out, that this is a topic that's cause for division in democratic societies.

ANA MARGARITA RIOS FARJAT, MEXICAN SUPREME COURT JUSTICE (through translator): I'm against stigmatizing those who make this decision that I believe is difficult to begin with due to moral and social burdens, and it shouldn't be burdened as well by the law. Nobody gets voluntarily pregnant thinking about getting an abortion later.

ROMO: Supreme Court Chief Justice Arturo Zaldivar, said that Tuesday was a historic day for the rights of all Mexican women. Another justice, Luis Maria Aguilar, also referred to the ruling in historic terms.

LIUS MARIA AGUILAR, MEXICAN SUPREME COURT JUSTICE (through translator): A historic step that has a direct impact on their lives. Never again will a woman or a person with the capacity to carry a child be criminally prosecuted. Today the threat of imprisonment and stigma that weigh on people who freely decide to terminate their pregnancy is you're banished.

ROMO: Elsewhere in Latin America, Argentina Senate approved the bill to legalize abortion last December. The Senate voted 38 to 29 to give millions of women access to legal abortions under the law supported by President Alberto Fernandez. Rafael Romo, CNN, Mexico City.


VAUSE: Coming up on CNN Newsroom, a traumatic journey to England for six Afghan children and a cousin's bravery, which made it possible.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was a scene where if they don't go, even one of them, if they don't go, I'm back. I'm not doing as well.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You meant that?




VAUSE: Britain is making good on a promise to take in 20,000 Afghan refugees and among the first to arrive, and six children. They left their parents behind but a harrowing journey from Afghanistan, all made possible by the bravery of their cousin who is barely older than they are. CNN's Phil Black has the story.


PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's difficult to comprehend what these children are feeling. Fear, loneliness, trauma. These six boys and girls aged five to 17 from three different families have transported from the desperate streets of Kabul to a small English town.


They've left behind everything they know and love including their parents. They are at least safe because of their cousin, Mursal's extraordinary courage.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Their kindness or I don't know what to do.

BLACK (on camera): They cry every day.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They cry every day. Especially with the parents there, they're like what's going to happen.

BLACK (voice-over) Mursal is 20 years old, a British citizen who was visiting family in Kabul, as the Taliban took the capital.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In 24 hours it's like the world flipped.

BLACK: Mursal knew her whole family was suddenly in great danger, because they are Hazaras, an ethnic group long persecuted in Afghanistan, and often massacred by the Taliban.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The first enemy for the Taliban are Hazaras. BLACK: So she eventually headed for the airport, with her cousins determined to save them. This video shows part of their journey Mursal's uncle is driving. He repeatedly tells the children don't be scared, nothing will happen. Just hours later, he would be dead.

Video captured by other people on the same day shows the chaos they were heading into around Kabul airport. Mursal says they push through the crowds. Her uncle was trying to clear a path when he was shot.

(on camera): He just fell.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He just fell. He got shot right in the heart.

BLACK: Mursal didn't know where the bullet came from or what to do. She took this picture as he lay dying. He said go, that's the last thing he said. He said go when I went.

BLACK: Did you look back?


BLACK (voice-over): She kept the children moving, eventually approaching some American soldiers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I said I'm a British citizen. They said who are they? Because they didn't have possible documents. Nothing. They said, I said that, these are my kids. I've adopted them.

BLACK (on camera): But you didn't know which way it was going to go?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. It was a scene where if they don't go, even one of them, if they don't go, I'm back. I'm not going as well.

BLACK: You meant that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. And I explained it to them and then the soldier looks at me right on the face. Go.

BLACK: For Mursal, that enormous relief of saving six young lives has now been overwhelmed by great responsibility. The youngest, just five years old, is deeply anxious about his parent's safety.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's like, we are Hazara. They're going to kill us first. I don't have enough time. This is what he's telling me.

BLACK: Children grew up in Afghanistan knowing that Taliban means death with Hazara.


BLACK: This young woman's life is now on hold indefinitely as she cares for these children, suits their nightmares, tries to convince them they will see their parents again. Phil Black, CNN, Hemel Hempstead, England.

(END VIDEO TAPE) VAUSE: If you want more information on how you can help Afghan refugees, has a list of vetted organizations accepting donations. You'll find the link to the International Refugee Assistance Project. Thank you for watching CNN Newsroom. I'll be back in about 15 minutes with more African Voices Changemakers, up next.