Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Newsroom

Ethiopian Airlines Transport Weapons; U.S. and China List Their Do's and Don'ts; Earthquake Rocked Pakistan; WHO Announce Breakthrough Malaria Vaccine. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired October 07, 2021 - 03:00   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR (on camera): Hello, and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church.

Just ahead here in CNN Newsroom. New Information from a CNN exclusive investigation, how Ethiopian Airlines carried weapons of war.

Plus, new pressure on China to stop sending warplanes into Taiwan's air space.

And the decision that could save many lives in the fight against one of the world's oldest and deadliest diseases.

UNKNOWN: Live from CNN center, this is CNN Newsroom with Rosemary Church.

CHURCH: Ethiopia has for decades been the beneficiary of a U.S. government trade agreement granting hundreds of millions of dollars for favorable access to U.S. markets. Allowing Ethiopian Airlines in recent years to build a global fleet and become one of the world's leading airlines.

For both the U.S. and Ethiopia this relationship matters. But for almost a year now conflict has raged in Ethiopia's Tigray region. Numerous CNN investigations have uncovered evidence of Ethiopian government atrocities. CNN has now found evidence that Ethiopian Airlines cargo carriers have been shuttling weapons between Ethiopia and Eritrea in what experts believe may constitute a violation of international law and that trade agreements with the U.S.

Here's Nima Elbagir.


UNKNOWN: With direct flights from over 95 international destinations, fly Ethiopian Airlines, the new spirit of Africa, a Star Alliance member.

NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): State- owned Ethiopian Airlines is Africa's premier carrier of passenger and freight traffic, but among the regular cargo, evidence of sinister shipments. CNN can reveal based on documentary evidence and witnesses accounts Ethiopian Airlines has been transporting weapons Ethiopia and Eritrea since the beginning of the war in Ethiopia that has seen thousands killed.

According to aviation experts, this would constitute a violation of aviation law. Among the evidence are these stills that were taken on board Ethiopian airlines flight ET 3313, and verified by CNN. It's the middle of the night. This cargo plane is being loaded by hand, a slow and unorthodox method.

But look closer. This isn't usual cargo. Inside these boxes are mousers. They are being loaded onto the civilian aircraft and transported from Eritrea to Ethiopia. Here is the cargo manifest corroborating the day and time. November 8th, 2020. The date is significant. It's just four days into the conflict and months before Eritrea officially admit to being involved.

Ethiopia has been at war with the Tigray regional government, the Tigray People Liberation's Front for almost a year. Eritrea to the north has begun the Ethiopian government's ally against the region of Tigray, an unusual alliance as the countries were previously at war with each other.

Now, they have a common enemy, Tigray. And they are sharing weaponry.

CNN. CNN. We are CNN journalists.

UNKNOWN: That's impossible.

ELBAGIR: CNN has been reporting on atrocities in Ethiopia since the beginning of the year.

UNKNOWN: If you want to have detained a CNN team, then that's what happened now, because we're not going to the camp willingly.

We traveled to Tigray last April and saw for ourselves Eritrean troops manning checkpoints with impunity. While the Ethiopian government denied their presence on the ground, that relationship between Ethiopia and Eritrea began months earlier in November 2020, which coincided with an increase in the movement of weapons shuttled back and forth from the Ethiopian capital to Eritrea.

During the same month there was also a series of massacres in the region of Tigray. An Ethiopia Airlines employee turned whistleblower spoke to CNN about how he actually had to deal with an unusual request.

UNKNOWN (through translator): The plane was carrying perishable goods, I had to deal with my bosses to unload some of the goods and load the weapons.

ELBAGIR: In various statements, Ethiopian Airlines has always adamantly denied carrying arms on passenger or cargo planes.

[03:05:02] But, in addition to speaking with whistleblowers, verifying cargo manifests and authenticating stills, CNN has obtained airway bill receipts that show at least six occasions in November, where Ethiopian Airlines build the Ethiopian Ministry of Defense to ship military items, including guns and ammunition to Eritrea.

MICHAEL RAYNOR, FORMER U.S AMBASSADOR TO ETHIOPIA: In the end, the success of the Ethiopian Airlines is an important and impressive symbol of the limitless potential of the U.S.-Ethiopian partnership.

ELBAGIR: Ethiopian Airlines built its cargo dominance in the relationship with the U.S. government and American aviation giant Boeing. These new CNN findings together with previous investigations into atrocities committed by Ethiopian forces would constitute violations of international law, according to aviation experts, and run contrary to the terms of that relationship with the U.S. government, whether these forces the U.S. to act substantively against the Ethiopian government remains to be seen.

Nima Elbagir, CNN, London.


CHURCH (on camera): Responding to CNN's latest investigation, Ethiopian Airlines said it complies with all aviation regulations, and quote, "to the best of its knowledge and its records, it has not transported any war armament in any of its roots by any of its aircrafts."

A U.S. trade spokesperson told CNN they would review eligibility for the U.S.- African Growth and Opportunity Act next year, which will be based, quote, "upon compliance with standards that include adherence to internationally recognized workers' rights, rule of law, and human rights."

Well after the review, the U.S. trade representative could possibly recommend that the U.S. president or remove certain countries from AGOA beneficiary country status.

Aircraft manufacturer Boeing said they had no comment for the story and the Ethiopian and Eritrean governments did not respond to requests for comment.

Well, earlier, my colleague John Vause spoke with Mary Schiavo, CNN's transportation analyst about these allegations, specifically about whether passengers were on the flights.


JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: We found out that both cargo and passenger planes were used in this operation. But CNN has no evidence that commercial passengers were on any of the flights carrying weapons. How significant is this question about whether or not they were paying passengers on board the same flights as the weapons?

MARY SCHIAVO, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Well if there were paying passengers on board, or any passengers on board for that matter even if it was dead heading passengers, then that violates a number of laws. Because at that point it would be a civilian flight, a civilian carrier, and scheduled commercial passenger carrier, and they of course cannot carry munitions, war supplies, material in the, you know, presumably they were calling this that they were carrying more supplies and not just smuggling guns. But at that point that is clearly a violation.

VAUSE: Because the Ethiopian government as the owner of Ethiopian Airlines, it can decide whether or not the flight is a civilian flight, even if it's the same plane. Or if it's a commercial flight, right?

SCHIAVO: That's right. And in many countries have those kinds of laws, including the United States. In times of national emergency, the United States can declare that the civilian airlines become basically part of a fleet to serve the country and the government can order them to become part of this national emergency.

Now, every country has their own set of laws. Ethiopia laws may be very different. And it's also different because they own the airline. The government owns the airline. But many countries have laws in place that allow them in times of emergency to use commercial planes, commercial airlines to perform military, quasi-military functions.


CHURCH (on camera) Ethiopia has faced accusations of committing atrocities in the conflict in the Tigray region including weaponizing humanitarian aid by preventing it from reaching areas in the grip of famine. here's J. Peter Pham, the first U.S. special envoy to the Sahel region of Northern Africa.


J. PETER PHAM, FORMER U.S. SPECIAL ENVOY FOR THE SAHEL REGION: What's really unconscionable, as Nima reported, is the number, the sheer number of people who are being effective. In the Tigray region we know that 400,000 at least according to the World Food Programme, are in famine, another 1.8 million people are on the verge of famine.

And that spread to the neighboring regions of Afar and Amhara. They World Food Programme is able to get 637 trucks into Tigray since mid- July. That's then less 10 percent of the minimum necessary to avert famine.



CHURCH: And you can find more details of CNN's exclusive investigation at

Southern Pakistan has been rocked by at 5.9 magnitude earthquake. At least 20 people are confirmed dead including children. The epicenter was near the remote mountain village of Harnai, about 100 kilometers east of Quetta.

Rescuers had to work with flashlights because power was knocked out. The quake triggered a rockslide that blocked a road into the village, further hampering rescue efforts. Officials say at least nine people had to be airlifted by helicopter.

U.S. President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping plan to meet virtually before the end of the year. A senior U.S. official says details will be worked out in the coming days. The two leaders have spoken by phone only twice since Joe Biden took office.

Top diplomats reached the agreement during six hours of talks in Switzerland. The U.S. raised concerns about Taiwan, Hong Kong, and human rights. China urged the U.S. to stop interfering in its internal affairs.

All right. So, Ivan Watson joins us now live from Hong Kong. Ivan, let's talk about this upcoming, well, it will be at the end of the year, this meeting, between U.S. and Chinese leaders. But I also wanted to discuss this rising tension that we're seeing between Taiwan and China.

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, let's talk first about this meeting in Switzerland. You could make the case that President Biden's discussion by phone with Xi Jinping on September 9th. That is helping to bear some fruit. Because the last time that Biden's natural security advisor Jake Sullivan sat down with the senior Chinese official, Yang Jiechi, that was in Alaska in March alongside the secretary of state, Antony Blinken.

That kind of devolved, it led to both delegations openly criticizing each other in front of the press. Biden spoke with Xi about a month ago, and we see signs that lower level officials now can have more productive meetings. At least, that's the kind of terminology that's come out of both Washington and Beijing since these two officials had this six-hour closed-door meeting.

The both sides saying that this was frank, a lot of ground was covered, and the American side, not the Chinese side yet, saying that they have, in principle, an agreement to hold some kind of virtual summit before the end of the year.

The areas of disagreement are many, and they were listed by both Beijing and Washington. They are human rights, they are Xinjiang, and Hong Kong and Taiwan and the South China Sea. The Chinese official urged America to stop intervening in China's internal affairs and to respect China's territorial integrity and its international security interests.

Meanwhile, Jake Sullivan has been talking about responsible competition, basically acknowledging that our two governments are not going to agree on a lot of things. We are in competition, but we have to have channels of communication to avoid an accident or an escalation. And one of those areas where that could happen is Taiwan where China flew some 150 warplanes in four or five days into Taiwan's air defense identification zone. That is tapered off since Tuesday but it was a sign that China can

very easily ratchet up tensions around that self-governed islands that China views as a break region of its own territory, a region that the U.S. has committed to help defend in a future. And that is one of the main, big points of contention between these two governments.

So, we're just going to have to see if this kind of new spirit of at least communication can continue between the U.S. and China going forward. Rosemary.

CHURCH: All right. We'll continue to monitor all this of course. Ivan Watson bringing us the latest there from Hong Kong, many thanks.

Well, America's top diplomat says he's had very positive talks with France. But the French foreign minister wants action not just words to resolve the country's strained relations. France was outraged when Australia pulled out of a $66 billion contract to buy French submarines after joining a new trilateral defense agreement with the U.S. and the U.K. and ever since the U.S. secretary of state has been trying to mend fences.



ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: The conversations we've had just in the last 24 hours were very positive, very productive, and reflect a lot of work that's in progress. Work that I was tasked by President Biden and President Macron to, as I say, deepen consultations, deepen cooperation, deepen coordination across a range of issues that make a real difference for citizens of France and citizens of the United States.


CHURCH (on camera): More now from CNN's Cyril Vanier in Paris.

CYRIL VANIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, there is still a way to go to resolve the diplomatic crisis that erupted last month between friends in the U.S. The French president signaling on Wednesday that he was not yet ready to put it behind him. Asked by Politico whether he was confident that the U.S. now recognized France's importance as an ally, Emmanuel Macron was quoted as replying, "we'll see."

The row erupted last month when the U.S.'s surprised security alliance with Australia and the U.K. effectively torpedoed a multi-billion- dollar submarine deal between France and Australia. France then lashing out angrily, saying it had been stabbed in the back.

Well, America's top diplomat has been trying to mend fences this week. Secretary of State Antony Blinken acknowledging on French primetime news that the U.S. fell short in impeccable no less.


ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE (through translator): We should have done better in terms of communication. This is what President Biden and President Macron said to each other when they spoke a few weeks ago. But above all, we sometimes tend to take for granted a relationship as important and as deep as the one between France and the United States.


VANIER (on camera): But France has been adamant all along that they want to see concrete steps in order to rebuild trust. Blinken and his counterparts have been working on precisely that. According to a senior State Department official, both countries are now looking for possible avenues of collaboration, deliverables and diplomatic jargon that could be announced when Presidents Macron and Biden meet for the first time since the crisis later this month.

Cyril Vanier, CNN, Paris.

CHURCH: A legal win for abortion rights advocates in the United States. A federal judge has issued an order blocking the controversial Texas ban on abortion six weeks into a pregnancy. The judge granting a request from the Justice Department said, from the moment the law went into effect, women have been unlawfully prevented from exercising control over their lives in ways that are protected by the Constitution. Texas has already indicated it will appeal.

Health officials see hope in the fight against malaria. Next, the world's first malaria vaccine gets the green light for use in children.

Plus, Dubai's leader is rejecting a British court's judgment that he used Spyware to hack his ex-wife's phone.



CHURCH (on camera): The World Health Organization is hailing what it calls a breakthrough against a disease that's been stalking Africa. It's giving the go ahead to the first malaria vaccine which will be used in children. Malaria has been deadlier than COVID in Africa which is home to more than 90 percent of malaria cases.

The most vulnerable victims are children under five. They account for more than one quarter million deaths in Africa alone every year. The WHO says the vaccine which has been decades in the making, significantly reduces deadly severe malaria by 30 percent.

So, let's get more now from our David McKenzie, he joins us live from Johannesburg. Good to see you, David.

Of course, half of all deaths from malaria involve African children. So, what can you tell us about the significance? So, what this malaria vaccine will mean for the continent?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Rosemary, it's hugely significant. Because in conjunction with other measures like bed nets and prophylactic treatment, young children who get this vaccine can get to up to 70 percent protection against severe malaria. And for anyone who's travel to these malaria zones or themselves had malaria know what a severe parasitic disease it is and the impact it has on young children for hundreds of years.

You know, malaria is an ancient parasitic disease, even the ancient Greeks had to deal with waves of malaria, and large parts of the world used to be affected. But now, what we are dealing with is parts of Africa and some parts of Asia and elsewhere has endemic malaria and this anopheles female mosquitoes have proven a generationally difficult public health issue to deal with.

Scientists have been working on the specific vaccine since at least the 80s that's gone through many different trials. And in the past few years they've had these large trials, or I should say tryouts, pilot programs in Kenya, Kenya, Ghana and Malawi that are proven to be relatively easy to slot this in to the regular immunization of children.

A three-dose at the very youngest and 18-month pause and then another dose and it really does have an impact. The next step will be to get funding for this to roll out wildly. But just to get it to this point will be seen as a major, major milestone. Here's the head of the WHO.


TEDROS ADHANOM GHEBREYESUS, DIRECTOR-GENERAL, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: Community demand for the vaccine is strong. It has broad reach to children including the most vulnerable who may not use a bed net, thereby expanding access to preventive measures to children at risk. It is safe. It's significantly reduces life-threatening severe malaria. And we estimate it to be highly cost-effective.


MCKENZIE (on camera): Well, this is not just the first for malaria, it's the first for parasitic diseases. And many scientists I have spoken to and public health experts over the years have had many frustrating rounds and turns and false hopes and it does seem now that it is realistic in terms of actually impacting children on this continent. Rosemary?

CHURCH: Yes. It is incredible. David McKenzie, many thanks.

Ashley Birkett is the head of malaria vaccine development at PATH, a group working to eradicate malaria. And he joins me now from Seattle, Washington. Good to have you with us.


CHURCH: So, the first malaria vaccine has been endorsed by the WHO for a disease that kills 500,000 people every year, half of them children. But there is of course a very long way to go before distribution to kids in Africa. But how significant is this and how long might that process take? BIRKETT: Well, this is a very significant moment in our fight against

malaria. This is the first time we are seeing a vaccine against the parasitic disease recommended for widespread use by the World Health Organization. They've been very successful developing vaccines against viruses and bacteria and distributing them worldwide. But parasites are very different and very difficult. And so, it really is a stark moment.

CHURCH: And it is of course worth noting that this malaria vaccine does have a relatively low efficacy, and it requires four shots over a specific timeframe.


So how problematic could the low efficacy and the four-dose regimen prove to be in developing countries, do you think?

BIRKETT: When we look at the efficacy, we have to also think about the impact even a modestly efficacious vaccine can have against 250,000 deaths a year in young African children. So, this vaccine was designed specifically to try to reduce the disease and death burden amongst those young African children.

And you're right, it requires four immunizations. It's not perfect. None of the tools that we have against malaria are perfect, and they are all imperfect tools and we like to think that we deploy them imperfectly. But we've had significant gains.

So, this is really exciting to have another tool that we can add to the arsenal and the fight against malaria, and particularly one that is targeted to young African children where this really is significant and disease and death are still taking place.

So, you mentioned the changes of implementing four-dose vaccines and there's no question, that is a challenge. And we continue to evaluate that. We benefit significantly by very strong immunization programs across Africa. Even some of the purest neighborhoods in the world in Africa are receiving vaccines that are getting to about 80 percent of the children.

So, we're able to leverage very strong infrastructure to get vaccines out where they are needed to ensure the effective deployment of these vaccines. So, we have great confidence that we will be able to achieve the high coverages and levels needed for the full four-dose regimen.

CHURCH: Right. And worth mentioning that your company has played a considerable role in getting this vaccine to where it is today and worth noting to that research is continuing with other malaria vaccines. How far away might they be and what more are you learning about their possible efficacy and dosage?

BIRKETT: Yes. Well, these efforts is really been sort of display the power of partnership and perseverance. This has been a 30-year journey to get to this point. As you said, PATH has played a significant role working with GSK, the manufacturer, but also with our partners in sub Saharan Africa to test and evaluate this vaccine over many decades and more recently with the World Health Organization and the government of three African countries who have actually piloted the vaccine in their country.

So, it's an imperfect vaccine. We hope down the road there will be better vaccines and better tools generally to fight against malaria. But there is nothing on the horizon that is significantly better than this, so this is the tool we have. It's the first new tool against malaria the WHO has recommended in over a decade. So, it's really going to be important that we maximize its use, and try to achieve maximum impact with it over the coming years.

CHURCH: And this doesn't necessarily mean that malaria will be eradicated, but do you think eradication is an achievable goal eventually? Or do we have to accept that malaria is here to stay and vaccines like this will simply keep it at bay?

BIRKETT: Yes. I don't think we can accept that malaria is going to continue forever. It's been with us an awfully long time and it's going to be very difficult to eradicate. But we'll get there eventually. But it's going to take time. And it's going to take more tools. We don't have the tools today to eliminate malaria in some of the most difficult areas.

In some countries, yes, we have the tools and we can do that. We can eliminate it. But we still have 70 odd countries that are endemic for malaria, and there is a handful of those that are going to be really difficult to eliminate the parasite from. And we are going to need new tools.

But along the way, we really got to drive down the disease and death and try to get those deaths down to zero first and foremost and then turn our attention to global eradication.

CHURCH: That is an incredible goal. Ashley Birkett from PATH, thank you so much for joining us.

BIRKETT: Thank you for your time.

CHURCH: And still to come, COVID-related absences are up in schools across England. Why health experts are worried about these disruptions in education. We'll take a look at that.

Plus, a British judge says the Dubai leader, ruler went to extreme lengths to monitor his ex-wife. How Spyware was involved. That's next.



ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: A popular Jewish singer fears antisemitism is on the rise again in Germany. He says he fell victim to a clear case of discrimination as he was trying to check in at a hotel in Leipzig. He told CNN's Frederik Pleitgen what happened next.


over): Jewish German musician, Gil Ofarim, close to tears in his video he posted on Instagram right after he said, staff at this hotel in Eastern Germany told him they wouldn't allow him to check in unless he concealed a necklace bearing the Star of David.

GIL OFARIM, JEWISH GERMAN MUSICIAN: He told me to put away my Magen David, my David Star. And I was really shocked and looked over to the other person and he just repeated the same sentence.

PLEITGEN: Gil Ofarim is a big star in Germany with thousands of fans but he tells me the moment he was singled out and denied service for being Jewish, he never felt more alone.

Did anyone come to your aid? I mean, you would think when something that happens that someone would jump in and support you right?

OFARIM: No, no, support. No one like speaking up, no one.

PLEITGEN: Gil Ofarim's video has gone viral in Germany, hundreds protested outside the hotel to support him. And in a statement the Westin Hotel, part of the Marriott Group, says it has launched an investigation, quote, "Our goal is to integrate support and respect all our guests and employees no matter which religion they believe in. The employees concerns have been suspended and we will clarify the issue without compromises."

But Gil Ofarim says, so far the hotel has not apologized to him.

OFARIM: No. There was no apology, there was no statement, there is nothing.

PLEITGEN: On the same day as the incident in a German hotel, The Auschwitz Memorial announced that barracks at the former Nazi extermination camp where more than a million, mostly Jewish people, were killed had been desecrated with anti-Semitic graffiti.

Jewish groups have long been warning of a massive rise of antisemitism in Europe. The coronavirus pandemic has only made things worse with conspiracy theories like QAnon moving antisemitism more into the mainstream. The head of the American Jewish Committee in Berlin tells me.

REMKO LEEMHUIS, AMERICAN JEWISH COMMITTEE BERLIN: During these protest, we have registered hundreds of anti-Semitic incidents, not necessarily crimes but anti-Semitic incidents, and this is definitely fuel the rise of antisemitism in Germany over the last year.

PLEITGEN: And Gil Ofarim continues to say that he's absolutely shocked by this incident. He also says that he's not sure whether or not he's going to press charges against the hotel and possibly some of the staff. But he says what he really wants is for there to be fundamental action against antisemitism here in Germany.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Berlin.


CHURCH: And German Foreign Minister, Heiko Maas, issued a strong condemnation of the incident on Wednesday. He said that he is stunned by the anti-Semitic insults that artist Gil Ofarim received and that, quote, "Many Jews in our country are exposed to this kind of antisemitism every day." He added, "Leipzig is not a case on its own and antisemitism has no place in our country."


Pope Francis is now speaking out about a report exposing a decade's long sexual abused scandal within the French Catholic Church. The report found more than 200,000 minors were abused by Catholic Church clergy in France since 1950.

CNN's Delia Gallagher has more now from Rome.


DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN VATICAN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Pope Francis called the report detailing sexual abused in the French Catholic Church a, quote, "moment of shame." The pope was speaking at his weekly audience at the Vatican on Wednesday. Here is some more of what he had to say.

POPE FRANCIS, HEAD OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (through translator): I wish to express my sorrow and my pain to the victims of the trauma that they had suffered. And also my shame, our shame, my shame for the too long incapacity of the church to put them at the center of its attention. I assure them of my prayers.

GALLAGHER: The pope said the report was hard but healthy. By healthy the Pope means that a reckoning of this kind is necessary if there is to be progress for justice and healing. The pope called on church leaders to ensure that, quote, "similar tragedies never happen again." He said the Catholic Church should be a safe home for everyone.

Delia Gallagher, CNN, Rome.


CHURCH: And still to come, British experts are stressing the importance of in-person education as England reports a sharp rise in COVID-related absences in schools. That story and more and after the short break. Do stay with us.


CHURCH: Indonesia is among the country's worst hit by the coronavirus in Asia. Thankfully, daily case numbers are much lower now than they were three months ago when a second wave of the virus hit its peak. But that surge also took a heavy toll on the country's health care workers.

CNN's Paula Hancocks has our report.


PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): At the front lines of Indonesia's battle with COVID-19, 35-year-old Dr. Riken Mediana Ukaputri (ph), pregnant with her second child became a victim of the very disease she was fighting.

ADITYO WIBOWO, LOST WIFE TO COVID-19 (through translator): She contracted the virus on the fourth of July and passed away on the 29th of the same month. Our eight-year-old and I were also positive. We recovered but not my wife, who was 34 weeks pregnant.

HANCOCKS: She was one of 208 Indonesian doctors who died in July alone, the highest monthly toll since the start of the pandemic. And one of nearly 800 doctors who have succumb to coronavirus in the country so far, according to the Indonesian medical association.

DAENG FAQIH, CHAIRMAN, INDONESIAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION (through translator): In July, doctors were exhausted. The COVID cases were increasing sharply, so was the workload.


HANCOCKS: Overwhelmed hospitals facing a severe shortage of beds and oxygen were forced to turn patients away as the highly contagious Delta variant swept through the country. The problem further exacerbated by a massive surge in deaths among health care workers.

WIBOWO: When many health care workers were testing positive for COVID, my wife risked her life replacing several colleagues who had fallen ill.

HANCOCKS: Dr. Riken (ph) was not vaccinated. The government's approval in late June to start inoculating pregnant women came too late for her. But even those fully vaccinated with the most wildly available vaccine in Indonesia, China's SinoVac, were not always safe.

Dr. Sylvi Febriza Darori is a pediatrician who lost her brother to COVID. Despite being fully immunized, her brother, who is also a general practitioner, caught the virus in late July and unknowingly spread it to his love ones.

SYLVI FEBRIZA DARORI, LOST BROTHER TO COVID (through translator): Thirteen members of my family were infected including my father, my mother, my brother's family, his wife and his two-year-old child.

HANCOCKS: Though numbers have now started to improve, fatalities among doctors at the peak of the second wave left a serious dent in the health care system of the world's fourth most populous country which already had one of the lowest doctor-to-patient ratios in Southeast Asia with just four doctors for 10,000 people.

EDHIE RAHMAT, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, PROJECT HOPE INDONESIA: The new medical doctor actually is a little bit hesitant to join the recruitment at the moment because of the situation.

HANCOCKS: The government took steps to try to fix the problem offering booster shots of Moderna's vaccine to frontline workers. Vaccination rates among the general public, which were abysmally low, have also risen steadily since July.

The country is one of just 8th in the world to have administered more than 100 million doses of vaccines, but the distribution is uneven. In the capital Jakarta, about 70 percent are fully vaccinated. Elsewhere in the country, that number is just 16 percent, putting doctors at risk.

Paula Hancocks, CNN, Seoul.


CHURCH: In England, coronavirus cases appear to be rising among children. It's been about a month since school started and new data reveals that COVID-related absences jumped by two-thirds during the last two weeks of September. The Prime Minister Boris Johnson, has vowed to keep schools open this academic year after the pandemic disrupted education for months.

Infectious disease and global health expert, Dr. Peter Drobac, joins me now from Oxford England. Thank you, Doctor, for talking with us and for all that you do.

PETER DROBAC, GLOBAL HEALTH EXPERT, OXFORD UNIVERSITY (on camera): Great to be with you, Rosemary.

CHURCH: So, while many countries are seeing COVID infection fall, government figures in England showed the number of kids out of school due to COVID-19 rose by two-thirds in the last couple of weeks. What do you think is behind this rise?

DROBAC: Well, this is a really predictable rise, you know, as kids return to school a few weeks ago, just about all mitigations to protect kids were lifted. And you know, the government is banking on the fact that levels of vaccinations among adults are very high. And the belief that because of many kids COVID infections is mild that it can really be tolerated.

And this is really in a way almost the herd immunity argument that you remember from 2020 coming back. So, what we're really seeing is that any medications, increase ventilation, considerations of mask wearing for children have been de-prioritized. And what we're going to see overtime at the expectation is that all kids in schools will eventually get COVID infection rather than waiting for them to have access to vaccination.

CHURCH: Yes. So, no mask, no vaccine, and even if a student test positive, the school doesn't have to tell any of the kids. So, talk to us about the best advice for COVID-19 guidance in schools to ensure these children and their teachers as safe, because there's very little confidence in the current guidelines in England according to recent poll.

DROBAC: That's right. Now, everyone agrees that it's extremely important to get kids back in school, that face-to-face education is critical. So, no one is arguing that kids should be kept home. However, a lot more could be done to keep kids safe.

I think there is good evidence that mask wearing for children 12 and older as is done in many countries is safe and effective and doesn't harm education at that level. A lot of investment could have been made in improving ventilation in schools for what we know is an airborne virus.

Carbon dioxide monitors can help give indication of where ventilation is in adequate, and regular testing, and contact tracing, and all the usual public health measures that we know work could be employed more regularly here. Those would be some steps to strike a balance.


The other thing would be a more aggressive rollout of vaccination and a full course of vaccinations for kids 12 and older where we're seeing the highest rates of transmission.

CHURCH: Yeah, let's look at that because children aged five to 11 in the United States are expected to get access to the COVID vaccine in just a matter of weeks from now.

When might that happen in the U.K. given children 12 to 15 there are only just now being offered a single dose? And why do you think it is taking so long to get kids vaccinated in the U.K.?

DROBAC: This has been a curious one. The JCVI, the advisory group on vaccinations, has really been slow to push for this. And we saw only a couple of weeks ago, then finally open up the option for vaccination of kids 12 to 16, but only a single dose which is not being done anywhere.

And what they say is that a single dose gives about 55 percent protection. There's clearly now a balance of evidence that suggest that the benefits of vaccination, a full course of vaccination, in kids 12 and up outweighs any of the risk, which are really fairly minimal as more data come in.

So, I don't know exactly what's thriving this, if it's a supply issue. But I think at this time there is strong evidence that all kids 12 and up should be given a full course of vaccination. I wish we would have done so before the schoolyear started. And I am concerned that we're going to be slow to follow suit once the data come in for kids under 12.

CHURCH: Yeah. It has been incredible comparing how different countries have approached this particularly when it comes to the protection of our children.

Dr. Peter Drobac, thank you so much for talking with us. I appreciate it.

And you are watching "CNN Newsroom," we'll be back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CHURCH: England's high court says the ruler of Dubai has gone to

extreme lengths to monitor his ex-wife during a bitter custody battle. A judge says he ordered spyware be used to hack Princess Haya's phone.

CNN's Nina Dos Santos joins me now live from London. So, Nina, what more are you learning about this?

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Well, the details of this case, Rosemary, have only come to light about a year after they were sealed. Court reporting was searched and subpoena applied to this terribly acrimonious custody battle between Princess Haya, who is the half-sister of the king of Jordan, and she's the sixth wife of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai.

She fled to the U.K. about two years ago in the start of the pandemic in a company of her two young children, a boy and a girl, saying that she is becoming increasingly concern about the welfare of other members of the royal court in Dubai, notably two daughters of Sheikh Mohammed by a previous marriages, Princess Shamsa and also Princess Latifa, who appeared to have been recaptured, sent back to Dubai and claimed that they are being held against their will there in the emirates.

So, she came here, set up home here and petition for custody. And there's been a very expensive an acrimonious battle since which appears to have culminated and her legal team has security detail and even a member of the House of Lords, Baroness Shackleton, who's acting as Princess Haya's barrister in this custody battle being targeted with not just any spyware, the notorious Pegasus Fireware, made by the Israeli software company NSO.


This is a type of -- very sophisticated, very expensive, highly secretive spyware, Rosemary, it's been used by autocrats in some parts of the world to target human rights activists and journalists as well.

So the use of this in a case here on British soil, a court case potentially interfering with the court case raises some really grave questions for somebody, Sheikh Mohammed, who is very prominent here on the U.K. social scene. He's has big racing stables here, he's often seen with the queen. And he's a vital ally in the Middle East for the United Kingdom. The UAE, by the way, Rosemary, just cemented a multibillion dollar investment deal with the U.K. just recently.

Now, Sheikh Mohammed does contest these claims. These are claims that Sir Andrew McFarlane, the U.K.'s most senior family court judge, said where a total abused of trust and indeed, an abused of power on behalf of Sheikh Mohammed.

But he says that that paints an incomplete picture and is part of a statement that he released on Wednesday, he said, "I have always denied the allegations made against me and I continue to do so," Rosemary.

CHURCH: All right. Nina Dos Santos, thanks for keeping a track on what's been going on there. I appreciate it.

Well, climate change is creating longer and more devastating fire seasons. In Israel, authorities are taking advantage of the region's biodiversity in using land management to protect sensitive locations all without firefighters.

Hadas Gold explains.


HADAS GOLD, CNN POLITICS, MEDIA AND BUSINESS REPORTER (voice over): A black gash in the mountainside near Jerusalem. August fires leaving ever bigger scars like those enforce around the world, a reminder of a change ravaging the planet. Thousands of acres here in the hills near Jerusalem turned into a blacken wasteland. Even now weeks later, a burnt smell still lingers in the air.

As the climate crisis makes fire seasons longer and more dangerous, Jerusalem region four supervisor, Chanoch Zoref, manipulates the areas of vegetation to try and keep the fires at bay, especially near sensitive areas like this psychiatric hospital.

CHANOCH ZOREF, FOREST FIRE EXPERT: The fire season in Israel today is almost two months longer than it used to be in the 80s.

GOLD: And that was because of climate change.

ZOREF: Yes, only climate change the climate. So what we are trying to do is to change as much as possible the composition all over the area of the trees, of all the vegetation.

GOLD: Non-native trees like these pines planted decades ago burn quickly. The perfect fuel for a fast-moving fire. Now, pines are cut where necessary, swapped for native plants that burn slowly like all of trees and Jerusalem oak. A strategically placed olive grove along with these firebreaks helps keep the August fires away from the hospital, patients, and staff without the help of any fire fighters.

ZOREF: We have 180 people, it's a more of a miracle.

GOLD: Just a few kilometers away from the hospital another stark example of how simple land management can be the difference between life and death. These vineyards save from devastation despite being just steps away from 20-meter high flames.

ZOREF: The thing is you could see an island inside the -- inside the fireproof -- a green island, the island is this irrigated area, vineyard for winery that is irrigated all the time, cultivated all the time so it doesn't catch the fire.

GOLD: Constantly irrigated vines, full of water, plus carefully managed and clean forest floors, help keep these valuable vineyards from burning. Despite the fact that again, no firefighters reached this area.

What is it about these vineyards they can teach us about how to manage fires?

ZOREF: To take an area that you think it's good to stop a fire and to make very intense cultivation of agriculture, whatever it is, either a vineyard, an orchard, an olive orchard, whatever. And those areas are very efficient and they give you other purposes, other services.

GOLD: As Zoref said, the climate reality is changing, that's a fact. As fires rage for longer, faster, and stronger, people like him are doing what they can with what they have.

Hadas Gold, CNN, Jerusalem.


CHURCH: Turkey's parliament has finally ratified the Paris Climate Agreement five years after signing it. The nation had previously argued it shouldn't be considered a developed country in the agreement which comes with additional responsibilities. The Turkish president says nations that have produced the most carbon emissions should take on bigger roles.


RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, TURKISH PRESIDENT (through translator): Unlike the past, this time no one can afford the luxury to say I am too powerful so I will not pay the bill because climate change treats mankind quite equally. It treats everyone exactly the same regardless of the differences between the European, or the Asian, American, or the African, the rich or the poor.



CHURCH: All right. Now, for the fun part of the show, commuters in Istanbul have a new best friend, a street dog name Boji has been using public transport for the past few months. He rides Istanbul's ferries, trams, and subways for up to 30 kilometers a day, and has become a local celebrity with more than 50,000 followers on social media. Boji's name comes from the Turkish word for subway car. Officials say they are tracking his daily commute with a microchip.


AYLIN EROL, HEAD OF CUSTOMER RELATIONS AT METRO ISTANBUL: Two months ago we had noticed a dog using train, to use our trams, our metros, all our trains. And he knows where to go, he knows where to get out. So it was quite interesting and we had started to follow him. And it was really an interesting pattern. It's something like that he knows where to go and he has a purpose.


CHURCH: Boji visits at least 29 metro stations a day. He is said to be respectful of fellow passengers. He's having a blast there. And finally introducing Alaska's reigning heavyweight champ. In a far

corner of the wilderness weighing over 1,000 pounds, the undisputed most beloved fat bear named 480 Otus. The pudgy brown bear was crowned winner of Fat Bear Week 2021. Yes, that apparently is a thing.

Online voters pick their favorite big bears as they bulk up for hibernation and lumbered around Katmai National Park in Southwest Alaska. Twelve big bears competed in this year's bracket. Otis ate his way to the title for the fourth time. The park service said even after votes were counted, the true champ was still chowing down. Good on him, so we should.

Thanks so much for your company, I'm Rosemary Church. Have a wonderful day. "CNN Newsroom" continues with Isa Soares in London.