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World Central Kitchen Says Seven Of Its Workers Killed In Gaza; Iran Vows Decisive Response To Consulate Attack In Syria; Protesters In Jerusalem Call For Benjamin Netanyahu's Resignation. Iran Vows Decisive Response To Consulate Attack In Syria; Hackers Broke Into Computer Network Tied To Russia's Prison System To Avenge Alexei Navalny's Death. U.S. & Israeli Officials Hold Virtual Meeting on Rafah; Sources Say That U.S. Close to Approving Sale of F-15 Jets to Israel; Trump Posts $175 Million Bond in New York Civil Fraud Case; Heavy Gunfire Echoes Through Streets of Port-au-prince; Outgoing Haiti PM Says Transitional Council is Nearly Finalized. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired April 02, 2024 - 02:00   ET




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

Just ahead, a strike kills aid workers in Gaza part of a team delivering critical food supplies to starving civilians.

Activists take on the Russian government to avenge the death of Alexei Navalny.

A new clues about the mysterious Havana syndrome that sickened the U.S. officials overseas. We will hear from one of the journalists who led the investigation.

ANNOUNCER: Live from Atlanta. This is CNN NEWSROOM with Rosemary Church.

CHURCH: Thanks for joining us, an organization that's been a vital source of food aid for Gaza's population is now dealing with its own tragedy. World Central Kitchen says it's devastated to confirm that at least seven members of its team have been killed in an Israeli military strike in Gaza.

The group says a convoy was hit leaving a warehouse where the team had unloaded more than 100 tons of humanitarian aid. World Central Kitchen CEO calls it unforgivable.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said an Australian aid worker was among those killed, he said Zomi Francom was doing extraordinarily valuable work and says his government is seeking accountability.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ANTHONY ALBANESE, AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER: Australia expects full accountability for the deaths of aid workers, which is completely unacceptable. Aid workers and those doing humanitarian work and indeed all innocent civilians need to be provided with protection


CHURCH: The White House is also reacting to the strike and is urging Israel to swiftly investigate what happened. The Israel Defense Forces says it is conducting a thorough review to understand the circumstances of this tragic incident.

And CNN's Scott McLean is following developments. He joins me live now from Istanbul. So, Scott, the killing of seven, at least seven members of the World Central Kitchen and an Israeli military strike on Gaza is prompting that organization to ask why humanitarian aid workers and indeed civilians are being targeted in this war. What is the latest on this tragedy?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, good morning, Rosemary. Yes, we've just got this new statement within the last hour from World Central Kitchen that says that seven of its employees were killed. It says that they were traveling in a convoy with two armored vehicles and a soft-skinned vehicle branded with World Central Kitchen logos.

As you mentioned, they've been leaving a warehouse where this aid that they had brought in by sea was being unloaded for distribution. And they said that they had coordinated their movements with the IDF. So, the IDF knew precisely where they were. They say now at this point they are pausing their operations in the region, they will make some decisions about the future of their work there very soon.

And the CEO of World Central Kitchen was pretty stern in the statement that she put out saying that this is not only an attack against World Central Kitchen, this is an attack on humanitarian organizations showing up in the most dire of situations where food is being used as a weapon of war. This is unforgivable.

Now, Jose Andres is the founder of World Central Kitchen. He also wrote about this on the X platform. He said that he had worked with some of these people in places like Ukraine, Turkey, Morocco, Bahamas, Indonesia. The list goes on. And we know he says that they are not nameless, they are not faceless. He calls them angels and we know the name of at least one of them or two of them. Saif Essam Abu Taha is a driver, a Palestinian driver that had been working with World Central Kitchen and the Australian Prime Minister as you said, Rosemary, has identified another one Zomi Francom who was actually on CNN last September talking about World Central Kitchen's work in Morocco after the earthquake there, listen.


ZOMI FRANCOM, WORLD CENTRAL KITCHEN AID WORKER KILLED IN GAZA: At the moment, World Central Kitchen that we have eyes in the sky, so we've been doing aerial assessments and feeding at the same time. And we have also teams who are going into the High Atlas Mountains on high clearance four wheel drives.


And so, at the moment, we're still assessing what that need is but we do know that it is great.


MCLEAN: So, Albany (ph) has said that Francomb had worked in the aftermath of the brush fires in Australia to provide people food. He said that the type of work that she is -- was doing said everything about her character.

Hamas has also commented on this, Rosemary, saying that this is more evidence of Israel deliberately targeting innocent civilians and aid workers to terrorize them in stopping their work in that area.

We also heard from one of CNN's analysts, Barak Ravid, citing sources inside the Israeli government who said that the picture that it's painting right now is one of confusion and embarrassment.

And it's also worth pointing out that this is not an isolated incident. This is not the first time that we have seen attacks on aid workers. In fact, UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which is focused -- which focuses its work on relief inside the Palestinian territories, says that 165 of its employees have been killed since this conflict began.

CHURCH: Indeed, it is such a tragedy given the work they do in the region. Scott McLean, many thanks for joining us, appreciate it.

We're now to growing fears of an escalating conflict in the Middle East, Iran blames Israel for a missile strike on its consulate in Damascus, Syria, technically Iranian soil. At least seven people were killed, including two high ranking members of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Israel won't comment directly on the strike, but a spokesperson says the building was not a consulate but a military facility. The New York Times cites four unnamed Israeli officials who acknowledged that Israel carried out the attack. CNN could not independently verify that reporting.

The attack sparked demonstrations in Tehran, protesters burned Israeli and American flag shouting revenge and death to Israel.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): The Embassy is considered part of the country's territory, there should definitely be a firm response to this action.

For us to sit quietly is not the right thing to do at all because Israel would dare to target more positions and may tell itself, why not Tehran next, and getting revenge must be taken.


CHURCH: Iran's foreign minister says U.S. support for Israel makes it answerable for the attack. More now from CNN's International Diplomatic Editor Nic Robertson.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice over): Smoke and tensions rising. Iran's consulate in Damascus reduced to smoldering rubble, its ambassador claiming Israeli jets fired six missiles at it. Saying, we told you before the Zionist entity knows very well that such crimes and any kind of crimes will not remain without response.

At least seven people killed, two of them senior Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, IRGC commanders, one of them according to Iranian state media, a very senior veteran of the elite military. Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Zahedi, a former commander of the IRGC land and air forces. Israel rebuffed the allegations.

REAR ADM. DANIEL HAGARI, ISRAEL DEFENSE FORCES SPOKESPERSON: I'm not going to comment to that strike. But I want to tell you that in the last six months, Iran is making this region escalate. According to our intelligence, this is no consulate. And this is no embassy. I repeat, this is no consulate, and this is no embassy. This is a military building of Quds Forces disguised as a civilian building in Damascus.

ROBERTSON (voice over): Nevertheless, it marks an escalation in already supercharged tensions. The first such alleged Israeli strike on an Iranian diplomatic building in Syria. And the highest ranking Iranian Revolutionary Guard member killed since U.S. forces killed Quds Force Commander Qasem Soleimani January 2020.

Back then, Iran responded by attacking U.S. forces in Iraq. Their options will be narrower now, prescribed by concern of significant escalation should they strike Israel where tensions will likely be highest is along Israel's northern border.

Iran's Lebanese proxy Hezbollah has been trading escalating rocket, drone, missile and artillery strikes since Hamas's brutal October 7th attack.


The United States has been pressuring Israel and Lebanon not to trigger a full war as Israel's government warns time for diplomacy is running out and hawks press for action, a supersize poster of Soleimani. Strong above the embassy gates and another in the rubble of the consulate, a reminder of the IRGC's lauded status. This attack, like Soleimani's won't be forgiven or forgotten.


ROBERTSON (on camera): And it's drawing in criticism from around the region as well now. The UAE criticizing Israel. Russia also criticizing Israel for this attack, and it puts pressure on Secretary of State Antony Blinken, when he has his meeting in Paris Tuesday with the French president Emmanuel Macron. He was looking to Macron to help deescalate the tensions with Hezbollah. The French do have some influence in Lebanon, but of course now, that's going to be much harder.

CHURCH: Pressure is mounting on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, thousands of protesters took to the streets in Jerusalem again, calling for his resignation and demanding new elections.

They blame Netanyahu and his government for failing to secure the release of the remaining Israeli hostages being held in Gaza in one of the largest protests since the start of the war. Dozens of demonstrators were also camped outside the Israeli Knesset. They are planning to stay there until Wednesday when the parliament's spring recess begins.

Meantime, dozens of ultra-orthodox Israelis protested against conscription to the military near Tel Aviv on Monday, after a policy exempting them from military service expired. The issue could have significant implications for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose coalition relies on ultra-orthodox parties opposed to the conscription plan. Here's what one protester says.


ISRAEL KAYA, PROTESTER: Israeli government want to draft faster the Israeli army. Therefore, for us, it's considered as being irreligious. (INAUDIBLE) would prefer to die, I'm not go to the Israeli army.


CHURCH: Alon Pinkas is former Israeli consul general in New York and was advisor to Ehud Barak and Shimon Peres. He joins me now live from Tel Aviv, Israel, appreciate you being with us.

ALON PINKAS, FORMER ISRAELI CONSUL GENERAL IN NEW YORK: Good morning, Rosemary, always good to be with you.

CHURCH: So, a lot to cover here. Let's start with Iran accusing Israel of killing Iranian military commanders and others in airstrikes on an Iranian Consulate building in Syria and now vowing to retaliate. Was this strike designed to expand the Gaza war? And if so, why?

PINKAS: Well, it definitely has the potential of expanding it whether the motivation was to expand it. There are two ways of looking at this, Rosemary. One is that Israel finally is exercising, I'm sorry, so called strategic proportionality. Meaning, hitting Iran directly rather than the proxies like Hezbollah, that Iran is employing against Israel.

And so, Israel said enough is enough. And expanded this into Damascus into an Iranian owned or Iranian operating building, which is an embassy or consulate or however you choose to call it, but it is -- it is Iranian territory.

And so, one way of looking at it is saying, OK, enough with the culvert shadow war, it's time to put this out in the open, and you need to pay and there's no immunity and no impunity for what you've been doing.

A second way of looking at it, a second perspective, is to say, this is escalatory in any which way and form. Meaning, that in the context of the Gaza war, as you suggested in your remark and your question, this can be isolated as part of that covert shadow war that I was referring to.

But this will almost inevitably lead to some form of escalation, because by hitting Iran directly, you leave Iran no recourse, no way out, but to respond.

Now, the question is, Rosemary, is obviously whether Iran will do this immediately, or whether it would be patient and just choose the timing and location for its reprisal in the upcoming weeks and months.

CHURCH: So, how should the U.S. respond to this given President Joe Biden has specifically asked Benjamin Netanyahu to avoid any attempt to expand this war?

PINKAS: Oh, he did. And you're exactly right. I think that the U.S.'s prime paramount interest since October 7th, was to prevent escalation.


And if you and our viewers recall on his -- in his speech on October 10th, Mr. Biden -- President Biden exclaimed, don't, referring to Iran and Hezbollah potential escalation.

But implicit in that don't, was also a warning to Israel, you too, should refrain from doing anything that would lead to an expansion or an escalation of the war. Now, six months -- almost six months later, the U.S. again finds itself in a very precarious situation in which -- in which it needs to deescalate this at the -- at a time or in an -- in an arena, Iran, which could potentially drag the U.S. into that too --


CHURCH: Right.

PINKAS: Because, you know, once escalation begins, it doesn't mean it stops with Israel, it could be enlarged to include the U.S.

CHURCH: And meantime at home, and Netanyahu is facing these calls for his resignation during massive weekend protests in Jerusalem.


PINKAS: Right.

CHURCH: That a plan to last until Wednesday, perhaps beyond. And we saw other demonstrations near Tel Aviv of ultra-orthodox Jews protesting attempts to force them into military service, a move that of course threatens to tear apart Netanyahu's coalition.

How vulnerable and threatened would the prime minister be feeling right now? And how far might he go to protect himself from any attempt to replace him.


PINKAS: Well, OK, on it's -- on a scale of one to 10, about regarding how threatened and vulnerable he is, I'd say he said about 11. Because these are seemingly two distinct things, you know, the ultra-orthodox, it's been a haphazard patchwork of legislation since 1948 that exempted them but push came to shove. And now it's becoming a major issue.

On the other hand, there is this apparent disregard from the government or lacks attitude toward the hostages, and his management of the war, and his refusal to be held accountable, and to assume responsibility for the worst.

So, supposedly, these are three distinct issues. But together they form an almost perfect political storm. Now, these demonstrations, Rosemary, come on the heels, everyone forgot that not Israelis, though, of nine months of demonstrations against the constitutional coup that he attempted to instigate between January and September, which has only stopped because of the eruption of the war. And in the aftermath of October 7th. So, what they are asking is for a new election.

If you look at polls -- I'm talking about 10-12 polls in the last two, three weeks, if election -- and election would -- I'm sorry, if any election would be held today, he would be trounced, meaning, that he needs to postpone the election, meaning that he has to go through to extra lengths to prevent that.

One of the conspiracy theories of sorts that is being circulated is on I'm now connecting the two issues that two topics that we've discussed this morning, is that he is expanding the war to maintain an atmosphere of war, meaning that you don't hold the election and you minimize the demonstrations because it's a time of war.

And so, I think he would go to extreme lengths to prevent any election. How that will play out? I don't know. Once the gut and you mentioned that. Once the Knesset the parliament goes into recess, you cannot file a motion of no confidence. So, anyway, you look at it, this is postponed until September. And I think it's going to be pretty hectic between now and September.

CHURCH: Alon Pinkas, many thanks for joining us. Appreciate it.

PINKAS: Thank you, Rosemary.

CHURCH: And coming up, a CNN exclusive. How hackers sought revenge on the Russian government after Alexei Navalny's death. We'll take a look.


CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. A group of anti-Kremlin activists say they successfully committed a major breach of Russian security by hacking into computer networks tied to Russia's prison system.

The activists told CNN that they were avenging Alexei Navalny, the Russian opposition leader who died in an Arctic penal colony in February. The hackers were able to steal a trove of data on hundreds of thousands of Russian inmates and their relatives.

They also say they broke into the state-owned online commissary system where family members buy food for inmates and temporarily slash the prices of goods.

Sean Lyngaas has more details.

SEAN LYNGAAS, CNN CYBERSECURITY REPORTER: CNN is reporting exclusively on a big breach of the Russian prisoner system in which hackers claimed to have stolen data on about 800,000 prisoners and their context to avenge the death of Russian opposition leader, Alexei Navalny.

Hours after Navalny's death in an Arctic penal colony in February, the hackers plastered Navalny's photo and anti-Kremlin slogans on the web site of a prison contractor.

According to data and screenshots reviewed by CNN, the hackers say they are hoping the data can lead to a better understanding of not only his death, which Western leaders have condemned and held the Russian government responsible for.

Russia's war on Ukraine has been accompanied by a surge in politically motivated hacking with both pro-Ukraine and pro-Russia hackers looking to make a statement.

I'm Sean Lyngaas in Washington.

CHURCH: The Kremlin is rejecting allegations that Russia is behind the Havana syndrome that's affected U.S. diplomats abroad. The denial follows a report from the Latvia based think tank, the insider in collaboration with "60 Minutes" and Germans Der Spiegel.

The report says the time and location of several Havana syndrome incident correlated with trips by Russian intelligence service officers of enter syndrome is a mysterious medical condition experienced by dozens of U.S. officials with symptoms including migraines, nausea, and memory lapses.

The Pentagon says a senior defense department official experienced similar symptoms at last year's NATO summit in Lithuania, where the U.S. and Ukrainian president were also present.

But the U.S. is standing by its assessment that a foreign adversary is unlikely to be behind the attacks.

Christo Grozev, a lead investigator with The Insider spoke with CNN's Erin Burnett about the study.


CHRISTO GROZEV, LEAD INVESTIGATOR, THE INSIDER: We have been investigating this unit for years ever since 2018, when they were behind the poisoning with Novichok of Sergei Skripal in U.K. I had an understanding of what they do. I knew that they were going after people to debilitate them, to assassinate them, to blow up things.

But there was just a hypothesis that maybe they are also behind this operation which had one big question, a gap in the knowledge who could have done it, who could have been at so many places around the world where American diplomats were falling prey to this syndrome.

And then, we discovered in the mailbox of one of these commanders from this unit, which was leaked by Russian hackers to us back in 2019. But only upon its review last year, I discovered this document which is essentially a receipt that it literally said, here is 100,000 rubles to you commander for having tested and develop a non-lethal acoustic weapon.

And this was the moment that I thought OK, well, this is the connection that makes it very, very obvious that this team wanted to do that, that they had the capability.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: You know, and looking at these over the years, there has always been speculation, even in Havana. And I remember visiting that embassy there, the U.S. embassy. So, real fortress-like place. Right? But then, there were officials who experienced these horrible attacks. That's -- but how it became known as the Havana syndrome.


And they were always suspicions that it was tied to Russia. And yet it was never proven. And now the U.S. government doubles down on its conclusion. They say that it is not likely an adversary behind the attacks, which is an odd just use of words because obviously something adversarial is accusing -- is occurring, right? But they're saying not an adversary and not a state actor.

What's your response to that?

GROZEV: Well, I can understand why the U.S. government may have a different threshold of being persuaded to been convinced that then as journalists and they may be a reason for them to withhold some information from the public for example, because they don't want to escalate relations with Russia. This may be a legitimate reason.

But if I have to confront the U.S. government on their statements, I have to pose the question this way. These are people, these are assassins, total number of about 50 that we've discovered, who happened to arrive to places where Havana incidents do happen. They arrived undercover. They arrived by making the utmost possible to hide their trick -- tracks. They were there to do something at these places. We're talking about seven or eight different incidents, not just the three that we reported.


GROZEV: Maybe the U.S. government has a better explanation that we have what they were doing there. But unless they do -- unless they do --


BURNETT: But, in seven or eight incidents you can tie directly to one of those 50 --

GROZEV: Unless they find and give us or give their colleagues a better explanation what these spies were doing there -- and again, these are not spies, they're assassin spies. What they were doing there, then I would stick to my hypothesis.


CHURCH: Our Erin Burnett there, talking with reporter, Christo Grozev. And we should note that CNN cannot independently verify these claims.

And we'll be right back.


CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone.

U.S. officials tell CNN the Biden administration has not seen any operational plans from Israel regarding a proposed military ground operation into the southern Gaza City of Rafah, where more than 1 million civilians are sheltering.

That news comes following a virtual meeting of senior U.S. and Israeli officials. CNN's M.J. Lee has more now from Washington.

M.J. LEE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Top U.S. and Israeli officials meeting virtually on Monday to discuss the situation in Rafah.


This, of course, is a meeting that was rescheduled after last week. An in-person meeting was set to take place but was abruptly canceled after the Israeli delegation decided not to make that trip to Washington.

The U.S., for its part, has tried to convince their Israeli counterparts to try something else that is different than a major ground incursion into Rafah, which of course the Israeli government has continued to warn it would move ahead with.

We are told that this meeting that took place, again virtually, it lasted some two-and-a-half hours -- U.S. officials saying that it was productive. But, what I'm also told by U.S. official is that the Biden Administration, even after this lengthy meeting, has yet to see operational plans that get into the details of how exactly such a military operation into Rafah would be executed. And importantly, whether there is a plan to evacuate and get out of harm's way, the more than one million civilians that are supposed to be currently in Rafah, sheltering there since the October 7 attacks.

Now, the lack of such a plan is so important to keep an eye on because President Biden himself has made very clear that without such a plan to protect the civilians in the area, it would be akin to a crossing of a so-called red line if Israel were to go ahead with such a ground incursion into Rafah without such a plan. Now, we are told from the U.S.' side that senior officials like Jake Sullivan, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Brett McGurk -- those were some of the officials that were involved and participated in this meeting. We are also told by U.S. officials that the plan is for these discussions and these conversations to continue in the coming days, including the rescheduling of an in-person meeting in the coming days.

MJ Lee, CNN at the White House.


ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR OF "CNN NEWSROOM": And we are also learning the Biden Administration is close to approving the sale of as many as 50 American-made F-15 fighter jets to Israel. Sources say that deal is expected to be worth more than $18 billion and would amount to the largest U.S. foreign military sale to Israel since the October 7 attacks. The jets would still need to be built and would likely not be delivered to Israel for four to five years.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump has posted a $100 million bond as he appeals his civil fraud judgment in New York. Trump and his sons, Don Jr. and Eric, were fined for fraudulently inflating the value of his assets to obtain better loan rates. The bond was originally $464 million, but a court lowered it last month. Posting bond means that New York's Attorney General could not try to seize Trump properties to cover the judgment, at least until the state appeals court hears the case in September.

The judge in Donald Trump's hush money trial has expanded the gag order against the former president. It will now prevent Trump from discussing the judges' family and the Manhattan District Attorney's family. Over the weekend, Trump attacked the judge's daughter in social media posts. Judge Juan Merchan says, Trump's rhetoric is a direct attack on the rule of law and it could make those involved in the case afraid for their safety and the safety of their loved ones.

People are living in fear in Haiti's capital as armed groups launched fresh attacks. I'll speak to an activist who was just there, about the dangerous situation on the ground. Back in just a moment.


[02:35:42] CHURCH: In the Haitian capital, there's growing panic over the deteriorating security situation there. On Monday, the sound of heavy shooting filled the streets, armed gangs are fighting for control of Port-au-Prince. Civilians could be seen ducking for cover and government officials have been largely absent after the prime minister resigned three weeks ago.

Monique Clesca is a Haitian pro-democracy activist, former U.N. official, and a member of the Montana Accord Monitoring Bureau, and she just returned from Haiti and joins me now from Miami. Appreciate you being with us.

MONIQUE CLESCA, HAITIAN PRO-DEMOCRACY ACTIVIST: Thank you so much for inviting me.

CHURCH: So given you just got back from Haiti, what did you see while you were there and how bad is the situation on the ground right now?

CLESCA: Well, the situation is really bad. And the gangs now have been attacking institutions of higher learning. And when you do that, you know, it is true (ph) terrorism. Attacking the national library, attacking to school of arts, attacking other schools and this is unacceptable. And the police have tried to do what they can, but it is limited. And we the population are really under extreme duress.

And the -- we don't know where to turn but there is some resistance and I think I want to highlight that because neighborhood watch groups are happening, neighborhood watch groups in the form of putting barricades in the street, watch groups in the form of transmitting messages to each other, so we know if the games are coming in an area or not. And so you can go to a safe haven, if there is one or you could protect yourself. So, I think these are the things that are extremely important

CHURCH: Indeed. And of course, we know that a curfew in Haiti is set to end this week, but the violence gripping the country shows no sign of abating with armed groups launching more attacks, with heavy gunfire near the national palace, and wild shooting filling the streets of Haiti's capital. What are these gangs trying to achieve now that the prime minister has agreed to step down as they previously requested?

CLESCA: Well, as I've mentioned, I believe it is terrorizing us -- terrorizing us into just freezing in space and not doing anything. But we are doing things. And by the way, the curfew, there has been a kind of unofficial curfew really for months, if not for years, because nobody was going out anyway, because we cannot go out. We could not step out of our homes, banks have been closed, schools have been closed now for the last three weeks.

So whether government -- the government kind of caretaker government is saying that they're going to stop the curfew, you know, still people will not be going out because it's not safe to actually do so. And I think one of the things I want to highlight also, in terms of the Montana Accord, is the fact that even with this -- a provisional government council that is being discussed, we are really watching it very carefully, so that it is not coming back with the same or even worse than Ariel Henry (ph).

So, we must watch that and that's why we have been saying that a political accord was the first thing that was needed for us to move forward with the provisional council before deciding who presides it or who the prime minister is, and we are close to a political accord. But that's still -- we still have to see, watch out, be careful.

CHURCH: And of course, outgoing Prime Minister Henry signaled that a broad transitional council is nearly finalized and seen as key to ending the current social and political crisis, paving the way for new elections. Do you share his optimism on that though?


CLESCA: No. I mean, Prime Minister Ariel (ph) was the past even while he was there. Now, whether or not I believe there is hope for Haiti? Yes, I do. Because Haitians are extremely resistant people, we have fought off worse than this. And I know we will come through this with the help of our partners because I think it's important to mention that. We cannot do it alone. We do not want an intervention, but we do want the support of partners, whether it be support logistic, financial.

And then remember, there is a huge a humanitarian crisis with more than 5,000 girls and women who were raped in 2023 alone, and close to about 4 million, which is about the one-third of the population, that is going hungry at night. And we are also talking about close to 4,000 people who were displaced by the gangs because as the gangs terrorized neighborhoods, people leave to go find safe haven other (ph) places. So, I think it is necessarily to actually say that. We may be resisting with all we have, it may not be enough, but I think it's important to signal the fact that Haitians always listing (ph) in different ways. And there is hope.

And I think one thing that I must mention, Rosemary, is that there are really now three Haitis. There is the Haiti that is in the Port-au- Prince metropolitan area with about four million people. And then there is a Haiti that's cut off near the south. And the Haiti that is cut off in the northern part. And I think these are -- these two other Haitis are functioning even though well economically it's very, very tough for them because they can't send their goods to Port-au-Prince, they can't exchange with Port-au-Prince, and it is a trauma for everyone in the country. But still, they also are resisting. And I think it's important to signal that.

CHURCH: Monique Clesca, thank you so much for joining us. Appreciate it.

CLESCA: Thank you so very much for having me.

CHURCH: And thank you for joining us. I'm Rosemary Church. "World Sport" is coming up next. Then, I will be back in about 15 minutes with more "CNN Newsroom." Do stick around.