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Connect the World

Poland Grants Humanitarian Visa to Belarusian Athlete; Watching on Israel High Court Ruling of Sheik Jarrah Appeal; UK & Romania Summon Iranian Ambassadors After Ship Attack; Lebanon's Prime Minister Designate Rules out Forming a Government Before August 4th; One-Year Anniversary of Beirut Port Blast on Wednesday; Migrants trying to go to U.S. Stuck in Colombia. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired August 02, 2021 - 11:00   ET




BECKY ANDERSON, CNNI HOST: This hour a Belarusian Olympian refused to fly home and now she is seeking asylum and Poland stepping in with support.

I am Becky Anderson. This is "Connect the World". On a Belarusian star athletes will soon be heading to Poland from Tokyo after getting a

humanitarian visa. Runner Kristina Timanovskaya says team official signed her up for a track event without her consent when she criticized the


She says she was forced to pack her things and head to the airport. Timanovskaya refused to board a flight back to Belarus Sunday instead

asking airport Police for help. She said she is afraid; she'll be put in jail if she returns home.

Well, after a night under Police protection, she was whisked away to the Polish embassy and will head to Poland from Tokyo in the coming days.

Connecting you to all angles on what is an extremely important story, Nick Paton Walsh standing by for you in London. First let's get you to Selina

Wang, who joins us from Tokyo. Selina, let's start with what happened and what happens next.

SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Becky we now know that she has received a humanitarian visa from Poland to the foreign minister. They're

saying that they're going to do whatever they can to ensure she can continue her sporting career in Poland. She is said to be leaving for

Warsaw in the coming days.

Now she was supposed to be competing in the 200 meter heats on Monday in the Olympics. But what happened was on Sunday at around 3 p.m. local time,

Representatives from the Belarus national team went to the Olympic Village told her to pack up her bags ordered her to go back to Belarus.

And when she got to the airport she immediately approached a Japanese Police officer she said she wanted to seek political asylum. She did not

want to leave she was fearful for her own safety.

Now we don't know exactly why she was asked to leave but we know that her fear came after she had spoken out against national sporting authorities.

She had written on Instagram that she had been put into this four by 400 meter relay that she had not prepared for that she did not consent to.

This is what she had said to Belarusian sports news site. She had said, "I'm afraid that I might be jailed in Belarus. I'm not afraid of being

fired or kicked out of the national team. I'm concerned about my safety. And I think that at the moment it is not safe for me in Belarus.

I didn't do anything but they deprived me of the right to participate in the 200 meter race and wanted to send me home."

Now Becky, Belarusian athletes who have criticized the government following those mass protests have faced reprisal they have been detained some of

them and some of them have been excluded from the national team.

So her fear is real after those mass protests. We have seen this brutal crackdown from Alexander Lukashenko, including jailing and of some athletes

that also participated in these protests.

And also importantly, Becky is that Alexander Lukashenko himself had been in charge of the Belarusian National Olympic Committee for decades, until

his son Victor took over. The IOC does not recognize his son, Victor and both Lukashenko and his son are banned from attending the Tokyo 2020 games,


ANDERSON: Nick, you've been covering Belarusian politics for years. Just walk us through this incident and what it means in the wider context, if

you will?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: I think it's fair to say it's another example of the outsize outlier behavior of the

authoritarian government of Alexander Lukashenko in Belarus that sort of acts as though nobody's watching as though it can function without


We saw a bit of that with the downing of a Ryanair jet off which an opposition blogger was taken. They use the Military aircraft and the bomb

threat to get out of the sky. European officials allege and now we see it with this where according to the athlete, Ms. Timanovskaya clearly she

feels forced to the airport forced home.

Her crime, it seems, is speaking out against her own Olympic team for what I think is fair to say is the fairly explicit mismanagement of having

enough people in your racing team to do the four by 400 relay a race that she'd not run or competed in before. And that statement on social media was

enough to spark anger to get her brought home. Now if I was talking to you about North Korea, this probably would not be of so great a shock.

But we're talking about a country that borders a number of European Union nations that have itself expressed ambitions to be closer towards the

European Union. But right now of course, because of its dictatorial behavior is dragged firmly in the orbit of the Kremlin.


WALSH: And so I think gives you a shot of the mindset of what's really going on inside of Belarus quite often overlooked. But we are seeing

extraordinary right Police violence against often very young, very peaceful protesters who simply say that the August reelection of Alexander

Lukashenko was fraudulent, pretty much everyone who looks at it agrees as well.

And so we have a mince government that increasingly feels it can act with impunity it did with Ryanair, it probably feels that way here. It feels

possibly that whatever is happening inside the country is not influenced by outside events.

And increasingly countries around are damaged by this. Poland very clearly stepping forwards and saying we will take Kristina Timanovskaya and she can

continue her sporting activity there as well. It looks like her husband has left the country as well too.

So a real crisis at the heart of Europe here and Becky, there's one very important thing to remember. The fate of Alexander Lukashenko very much

influences that of his sort of big brother, if you like to the east Russian President Vladimir Putin similar tactics, Mr. Lukashenko significantly

clumsier and more brutal to some degree.

But I think the Kremlin deeply fears that if Belarus falls into the European orbit, similar things may happen inside their country, so their

fate hinges on Alexander Lukashenko. But I do wonder if they keep waking up to the strange headlines of his behavior globally and wish he'd stop.

ANDERSON: Selina, it's important to note that this athlete does not have a reputation as an activist in any way, shape or form, does her?

WANG: I think this is an important distinction, Becky, she said she was outraged by the negligence of the sporting authorities. Our coaches, they

put her in a race that she was not prepared to run. They did it without her consent.

They did it behind her back; she was not making a political statement. Now, Becky, there have been situations in the past. In fact, during the Cold

War, numerous athletes had defected from the Soviet Union.

Now, since the fall of the Soviet Union, this has become less common, but during global sporting events, athletes do continue to defect. But this

situation of Kristina Timanovskaya is different.

She appears to have been forced into this behavior, this action because after she had spoken out about a situation that she said she did not

consent to negligence again on the part of national sporting authorities, according to her. So Becky, I think that is a very important distinction to


ANDERSON: To both of you, thank you very much indeed. Well, your decision that could have a huge impact on Palestinian Israeli relations going

forward will not happen today. Israel Supreme Court adjourned for the day, without ruling on whether to hear an appeal by Palestinian families to

lower court rulings permitting forced evictions from their homes.

And remember that the case contributed to the unrest in East Jerusalem earlier this year that eventually boiled over into violent clashes between

Police and protesters, that in turn leading to the conflict between Israel and Hamas that killed some 250 Palestinians in Gaza and 13 people in


This is not an isolated event, Hadas Gold following developments for us from Jerusalem. So what do we understand to have happened today? And what

are the next steps at this point?

HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Becky, this is so much more than a case about an eviction, it's really become a rallying cry for Palestinians.

And it's being so closely watched not only here in Jerusalem, but also around the world international attention people around the world really

focusing on this.

But we've had no resolution today, essentially, the hearing today and without any sort of decision and a lawyer for the families telling our

producer who was in court, there will likely be another session that has not been scheduled yet.

Today, a judge did try to offer a sort of compromise between the two sides essentially offering the Palestinian families protected tenancy status. But

under this sort of compromise, this Jewish letters organization that has claimed the rights to the land would be somewhat recognized as the owners

and that was not accepted.

So this is still going to continue to drag on, but I want to walk everyone through what this case is about. Now lower courts have upheld that Jews

owned this land prior to 1948. But after 1948, Jordan took control of East Jerusalem and settled Palestinian refugees who had lost their homes onto

this land.

In 1967 though when Israel took control of East Jerusalem, they soon after passed a law that said that Israeli Jews could try to reclaim land that

they say they lost after 1948.

That is the law that this settlers organization is trying to use to evict this family. Now, the Palestinians say that they this visa restitution laws

are just inherently unfair because they don't have the same sort of legal recourse to try to claim back land that they say they lost in what is now

the State of Israel.


GOLD: Now, this case has been going on for many years. But it has really become an important rallying cry for Palestinians, especially last year's,

especially in the last few months.

And as you noted, the tensions in this neighborhood, the tensions around this case, they helped lead to that sort of this - the situation that led

to that conflict erupted between the Hamas led militants in Gaza, Hamas really trying to position themselves as the protectors of Jerusalem are

taking up this cause.

But this will not end anytime soon. Because even if the Supreme Court denies hearing of this appeal, essentially allowing the evictions to go

forward, Israeli media is reporting that because of the politics, the government is unlikely to carry the evictions through citing a 1991

decision that essentially says the Police can decline to carry out evictions, if they think it could be a dangerous situation.

And of course, with so much sensitivity is the politics all around this, you could imagine that might be a case that the government will take. But

regardless, we have no resolution and this will continue to drag on, Becky.

ANDERSON: I just wonder what the feeling is locally about the significance where the government to take that position after all, since that may

conflict. And this was a highly contentious case that was the spark certainly a spark, if not the spark that lit the fire of that 11 day deadly

war between Hamas and Gaza.

We have a new Israeli coalition government. So just how significant would a decision like that be?

GOLD: Well it'll be significant, especially if you keep in mind who is the prime minister right now? Naftali Bennett part of a Right Wing Party at one

point he was even Representative of a Settlement Settlers Organization.

So how interesting would it be if this government would not take an action like that in order to try to keep the situation calm. But that is the sense

the feeling amongst many political analysts' theories that would be the goal to try to keep the situation calm.

Because also keep in mind, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is expected to try and make a visit to the United States within the next few weeks. His

first visit, as Prime Minister and the Americans has expressed a great concern over the status of these families in Sheikh Jarrah in East


And so you can imagine the politics around potentially having these evictions take place or a decision on these evictions that they should go

through before such a politically sensitive visit, like the Prime Minister Bennett to the United States to visit Joe Biden would not go over well.

And so this government would likely try to either delay or potentially, like I said, cite that decision in 1991 essentially saying that they do not

need to carry through those infections.

But we pretty much have no resolution to this because like I said, even if they decide OK, they will not carry through these evictions because it

might be dangerous. That threat of eviction could still hang over these families.

ANDERSON: Yes, absolutely. Hadas, thank you. Well, the relations between Iran and the West, not getting any better, this time a drone attack on a

ship in the Arabian Sea that has inflamed tensions. Details on that are coming up.

Plus Lebanon's long nightmare being made worse now by new sectarian clashes all this of course, coming ahead of a very tough anniversary for this

country in crisis. We will get you to Beirut, just a little later.

And even as the U.S. winds down its long war in Afghanistan, it is ramping up airstrikes against Taliban targets in the country. A live report from

the Pentagon is ahead for you.



ANDERSON: The UK and Romania have summoned the Iranian ambassadors in their respective countries in the wake of last week's deadly attack on a

commercial tanker. And just get you the details here.

Britain and the U.S. blame Iran for the drone attack in the Arabian Sea that left two crew members of this vessel dead. One of them was from

Britain, the other was from Romania. Iran denies involvement.

International diplomatic editor Nic Robertson joining us now from London with more on what is this tense situation and those details that I've just

explained are the very basics here. What do we know to have happened?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, what the British Foreign Office describes it as a deliberate and targeted attack. And

photographs of the aftermath show what appears to be a large hole blown in the metal structure, the decking of that tanker and shrapnel holes on the


We know that the initial sort of contact with a drone came on Thursday, late Thursday. There were believed to be as many as four security members

of a team on board the ship, they'd seen that or heard it, they'd alerted authorities, there was a period then of radio silence.

And then in the early hours of Friday morning, it appears that's when the explosive laden drone targeted this ship. And it appears to have been a

very precise targeting right around the wheelhouse area. It appears from the photographs to be.

So you know, this, I think gets to what we're hearing for the British Foreign Office that this is something that was very clearly intentional and

we're looking at the holes are not insignificant hole blown in the ship.

ANDERSON: We have had reaction from some key stakeholders on this story. What do we know?

ROBERTSON: Yes. And you mentioned before that both the Romanian authorities and the British authorities have called in the respective Iranian


The British Minister for the Middle East, James Cleverly has told his Iranian counterpart that anything that risks the International Peace must

be avoided immediate cessation of that without directly saying you're responsible, but the British have already said it's highly likely that it -

was behind this and - the Iranian ambassador.

So I think, you know, diplomatic language is being used here, but it's being Iran is being told very clearly that it cannot proceed this way. The

U.S. State Department has said that there will be a reaction forthcoming. And I think the indications are so far that these reactions are diplomatic.

We've also heard from the Prime Minister of Israel, Naftali Bennett saying very clearly that Israel knows how to get back at Iran. This is how he

framed it.


NAFTALI BENNETT, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: In any case, we know how to send a message to Iran in our own way.


ROBERTSON: So own way, we can take that as that is really, I think, an indication that Military actions may not be over. We know that the Iranians

for example have complained through their foreign ministry spokesman that attacks on Iranian vessels they say in the Red Sea have gone largely

unreported by Western media, Becky.

ANDERSON: Nic, very briefly, this all happening just a few days before the Iranian President, Raisi due to be sworn in. And he'll face many challenges

not least getting the Vienna talks back in place.

Over the weekend, the Supreme Leader released a highly produced clip titled "The experience of trusting the U.S." and it offers a fascinating insight

into the messaging as Raisi is about to take over. I just want our viewers to see this.


ALI KHAMENEI, SUPREME LEADER OF IRAN: In appearances, they give promises and are smooth talking. But in practice, they plot, destroy and prevent

progress. This is America and is an experience. This experience tells us this is a deadly poison for us. The experience is about not trusting the

West. In this administration, it became clear that trusting the West doesn't work.



ANDERSON: The message Nic couldn't be clearer here, what are we heading for briefly?

ROBERTSON: A further tension and difficulty on those talks, I thought what was very interesting to come out of Tehran over the weekend. A similar

sound bite if you will, saying that we will not negotiate for the, you know, strictly for the process of just negotiating, we're not going to

negotiate just to negotiate.

Interestingly, that's exactly as a state department has framed, the way that the talks are going with the Iranians at the moment, not going to

negotiate for the point of just negotiating.

So you know, I think, you know, there are clear rhetoric domestic audiences, the doors not shot, but I think it's closing, but let's see.

ANDERSON: Nic Robertson in the house. Thank you, Nick. I want to talk more about all of this with Israel's Minister of Intelligence Elazar Stern,

joining us now from Jerusalem. Let's talk about this drone attack in the first instance, Israel has blamed Iran for that, as has the U.S., the UK

and others, what sort of evidence did you find to support that claim, Sir?

ELAZAR STERN, ISRAELI INTELLIGENCE MINISTER: I think that now, I cannot give you, you know, the exact polls. But there is no doubt and the

Americans and the British already know, we give them they have themself the evidence, no doubt that it was Iranian actions.

Unfortunately, we will not surprise you know, it's like a wake-up call for the Western world, you know, that a Iran is not only the enemy of us of



STERN: You cannot imagine, you know, a big ship in international sea. They cannot have to be surprised by dawn attacked. And you know, it wasn't

Israeli sheep, it was Japanese, operated by British company, the flag was of Liberia.

And they call, you know, unfortunately, the - member who died. They were from Great Britain, and from Rumania. You know, it's not really issue and I

hope to respond of the world.

ANDERSON: OK, well, and I and I hear what you're saying. And you're not prepared to divulge any evidence, it seems, which is disappointing, because

that would help our viewers at this point to further understand what's going on.

But this incident comes amid heightened tensions between Iran and Israel. And your prime minister said we know how to send a message to Iran in our

own way. What does he mean by that?

STERN: Becky, I prefer to leave it to the Iranian. But I really think you know, we know how to defend ourselves and how to deliver a message to the

Iranian, but I really want to emphasize with your permission, that we really want it.

The world will look at it as a wake-up call, you know, that it's not only should be a respond, but by us, it should be you know, I am not going to

tell the British or the Americans the Romanian words the way that they have to respond.

I, you know, their independence country, we are part of the world, the International world, the International democracies in the world, you know.

But there is no doubt that they should respond, you know, with all that said, I cannot, you know, they lost, you know, one, two civilians on

British, you know, one British one Romanian, you know, as I told you, you know, we have to wait.

And I think, you know, maybe they have to put more sections. I don't want to say the words the way.

ANDERSON: I understand I understand that you're not, you know, telling either the UK or Romania who, sadly, as you rightly point out have lost

citizens who were aboard their ship.

But - let me just put this for you. If Israel chooses to take more robust action against Iran, do you think you'll have the support of international

players particularly for example, those in the region, such as Gulf countries?

I'm just trying to get to the bottom of your prime minister's words here and Israel's current position on Iran with respect.

STERN: Yes, first of all, we really hope to enjoy the support of the rest of the world. But as you know, you cannot allow our self to wait to the

support, even if we prefer the support of the world.


STERN: So we will have to keep the balance between waiting to the support of the world of till the world will take actions and to defend ourselves.

Because, as you can imagine, unfortunately, we are in the front line of the Iranian, what they called enemy.

I don't know why they prefer to define that as an enemy. We don't have any common bow there may be only because we are the first western country,

which is the closer to Iran, given that we are much far away.

ANDERSON: All right. Let me let me put this to you. We do hear a lot from Iranians about how Israel has penetrated the echelons of Iranian

infrastructure. We are talking power and water supply.

What can you tell us about Israeli action in Iran? And certainly, the Iranians are determined that action exists. And how far is Israel willing

to go, sir, at this point?

STERN: Yes, you know, we don't can allow our self-principle, that the Iranian will - nuclear weapons, because they already declared who is going

to be the first time we get for them.

And we really don't want to allow the Iranian to use Hezbollah, which are also well recognized their organization closer to our border to use them in

order to kill an Israeli citizen. So we will do everything that we have to do not that we prefer to do that we have to do.

ANDERSON: What does that mean, can I just - let me just push you on that. You would expect me to push you on that?


ANDERSON: Everything that we can do that we must do. What does that mean, sir?

STERN: Is that means that we prefer no one to be killed? No Iranian citizen, no Israeli citizen. But if the end of the day, if they intend, you

know, to kill an Israeli, we will do all of our best in order to prevent him from beginning you know.

And you can imagine everything that we don't want to deter, we are this situation. But we don't have to wait till the situation will be, you know,

so bad that we cannot even react only after too many funerals in Israel. And this you know, when we are in the Middle East.

ANDERSON: Negotiations between the U.S. and Iran over the nuclear deal have stalled. The supreme leader has repeatedly expressed his lack of trust in

the U.S. I mean, they're not even in direct negotiations as of yet.

But you will have seen the same statements made by the Supreme Leader; you may even have seen the same highly sort of polished content that was put

out over the weekend between the supreme leader and the incoming president.

And the Iranians simply do not believe that the Americans keep their promises. I just want to get your perspective from the intelligence sphere.


ANDERSON: About the prospects of these talks and the eventual deal. Do you see an eventual, a deal anytime soon?

STERN: First of all, we hope that it will be a good deal for all for the whole world. But, you know, the Iranian cannot blame now is not what they

think only Trump Administration. Now is Biden Administration, which is maybe I'm not sure when I don't want to say it.

It's maybe more comfortable or convenience for the Iranian to deal with in. So in America, they try to do all what they can do in order to make to

achieve an agreement. But in Iran, there is what they call the - you know, they call them the hangman from the Iran or the --.

Because on his hand, there is not the blood of 1000 divinely on his hands, there is the blood of 1000s of 1000s of innocent civilian form Tehran form

Iran. So you know, we can wait, but I think that the situation, unfortunately, it's not going to be better from day to day.

ANDERSON: With that, we will leave it there, sir.


ANDERSON: We thank you very much indeed, for joining us just ahead on "Connect the World". As the first anniversary of the Beirut port blast

looms, the U.N. Special coordinator for Lebanon, talks to me live about the obstacles that stand in the way of getting this country back on its feet.



ANDERSON: Just days from a tragic anniversary in Lebanon, the country's new Prime Minister Designate is ruling out the possibility of forming a new

government in the coming days. This Wednesday will mark the first anniversary of the deadly Beirut Port blast that left the Lebanese Capital

looking like a war zone and it devastated entire neighborhoods. You're looking at pictures of the aftermath now.

Well, Amnesty International today is slamming Lebanon's authorities accusing them of obstructing justice for victims of the August 4th blast.

Amnesty goes on to say a new report that authorities are actually shielding officials from an ongoing probe. Last month the interior minister rejected

a plan to question the head of general security.

My next guest tweeted, "So many human tragedies behind the Beirut blast. Families are still in pain and still trying to pull their lives back

together. They deserve justice, dignity and support". Joanna Wronecka is the U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon. She joins me now live from

Beirut, near the Defense Ministry.

We thank you for joining us. You've repeatedly called for an impartial, thorough and transparent investigation into that blast. But that has not

been forthcoming. And we are two days away from a year into this. Amnesty's report today outlining what they describe as shameless obstruction of

justice and calling on the U.N. to do more and I want to quote what they say specifically.

The U.N. Human Rights Council must heed their call and urgently set up an investigative mechanism to identify whether conduct by the state caused or

contributed to the unlawful deaths and what steps need to be taken to ensure an effective remedy to victims. I have to ask a year on why has no

internal - international investigation being established.

JOANNA WRONECKA, U.N. SPECIAL COORDINATOR FOR LEBANON: First of all, good afternoon from Beirut. Good morning. I'm very pleased to take part in this

discussion. Thank you for the invitation.

Yes, we stand in solidarity with the Lebanese people. It's a very painful experience and in all my meetings I urge the Lebanese authority of course

to pay attention to this impartial as you mentioned, and to independent investigation because the people of Lebanon deserve it.


WRONECKA: Recently, I have also meetings with the Minister of Justice and today with the High Judicial Council when in clear way, I urge the

authorities of course to react--

ANDERSON: That's not enough. I just have to jump in here. Yes. I mean, the U.N. is being accused her of simply not doing enough. Do you accept that


WRONECKA: You know U.N. has concrete conditions when the international investigation can be initiated, it could be done when a member state in

question is asking for that - when the U.N. is mandated by abundant like the General Assembly's Security Council or Human Rights Council, or where

the risk also from the security and peace point of view.

But we have to emphasize that in all the cases I mentioned, the consent and the collaboration of the member state is absolutely necessary. So -

discussion I had gave me a little bit of optimism that the authorities know that this is a serious issue.

And I had the confirmation from the President of the High Judicial Council that - is taking this very seriously. So let's hope that this time, the

victims, the family of the victims, will have at least this moral satisfaction or--

ANDERSON: Those victims were promised investigation. Those victims were promised the result of this investigation within days, we are looking down

the barrel of the year anniversary, which is on Wednesday, and this show will dedicate most of this hour on Wednesday to looking at exactly what is

going on, on the ground.

The President of Lebanon has expressed his absolute readiness to testify as part of the investigation saying no one is above the law. As a very ironic

statement don't you agree, coming from Michele Aoun who too many Lebanese epitomizes the corruption and the demise of their country?

WRONECKA: Yes. So it's - I will repeat again, it's a very painful situation and whatever we you and but also other countries we can do to urge the

authorities, we will do what is in our hands. And let's hope that this time, our pressure with bring good results and satisfaction--

ANDERSON: And Businessman Najib Mikati was appointed by law - let's talk about the new Prime Minister Designate because clearly, you know, you are

hoping that he will be able to put together a government that will actually begin to work out how to recover Lebanon from what many are now calling it

status as a failed state.

And but this marks his third time holding this position. I do have to ask you what you make of that appointment. And are you confident in his ability

to get Lebanon out of this mess?

WRONECKA: Again, in all my messages, you know, I put what I call a three or four - public good political responsibility, people's needs and people's

aspiration and performance as a main principle, you know, for any government to achieve something.

So, again, we are hoping that this time the formation of the government will be rapid. And again, I will repeat that we are hoping that they can

agree all partners, all political parties with the new Designated Prime Minister. We are still awaiting Mr. Mikati has the experience from the

past, being already the Prime Minister.

But this time it's not only about the formation of the government, I think and here we should emphasize the need for urgent structural and substantial

reform for Lebanon. It's about fiscal sector.


WRONECKA: It's about macro economy, but it's about social safety as well and we can speak about good governance. What is important, I think it's the

delivery, delivery and delivery because the people deserve to have a concrete result as we know the economic situation. It's really tragically.

And when we look, for example, to the private sector, but also the public sector, the people are expecting concrete reactions from basic services,

like food, of course, but medicine, the shortage of medic medicine represents a risk really for the Lebanese people. So it's becoming a very

humanitarian assistance.

But allow me to say very quickly, that even last year, immediately after the explosion in the Port of Beirut, United Nations mobilized humanitarian

assistance in an exceptional way within 10 days, you know, and it was a special emergency program till the end of last year.

This time, again, we are mobilizing the international community and here I should emphasize the role of a good, very good coordination between donors.

We are doing what we can--


WRONECKA: --recently in June, we organized a U.N. supported conference, it was the French initiative. But on the fourth of August, again, the U.N. in

close cooperation with France, it was the French initiative will organize another conference, a planting one to help the people of Lebanon--


WRONECKA: --and to focus on this human humanitarian.

ANDERSON: And we'll report on that.

WRONECKA: --I think it's very active yes.

ANDERSON: OK. Well, it's - yes, but meantime, on the ground, nothing changes. Mikati today ruled out the possibility of forming a new government

before the anniversary of the blast, stressing that the deadline for the formation of a new government is not open ended.

And as you rightly point out, Lebanon's economy continues to be in free fall. The World Bank dubbing Lebanon's economic free fall as one of the

world's worst financial crises since the mid-1800s you are well aware of that as we are on this show.

The efforts for the people of Lebanon continue, but we will continue to ensure that we hold those who are responsible to account and it's good to

have you on. Thank you. I know you're relatively new into the job; I look forward to speaking to you in the days, weeks and months to come because as

you rightly pointed out, the humanitarian situation on the ground now is really, really desperate. Thank you.

Well, on Wednesday "Connect the World" will bring you stories of dignity, courage and hope as the people of Lebanon mark one year since that tragic

explosion in the Port of Beirut. Please do join us for our special report here on "Connect the world" that is Wednesday 6 pm, Beirut time that is 4

pm in London, and at the times locally that you will be able to work out off the back of that. We're going to take a very short break back after




ANDERSON: This is "Connect the World". I'm Becky Anderson for you quarter to 5 in London. Turning to America's longest war, the U.S. ramping up

airstrikes yes, you heard me say that ramping up airstrikes in Afghanistan to turn back Taliban advances.

A Senior Afghan Security Official says over the past 72 hours he strikes targeted militant positions in a number of cities. This as the Taliban is

poised to seize the first provincial capital in the country.

Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr joining us now live with the very latest. What do we know about these strikes and how concerned should we be

about what appears to be this escalation in what is a larger conflict, Barbara?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Becky, the U.S. government not saying much other than sort of privately acknowledging that these

airstrikes are happening that they are trying to push back indeed, against Taliban advances, most was of the words coming from Afghan's security

official's very few specific details.

But here's what we do know, the Taliban for the last several days have tried been trying to press their advantage in three key population centers,

Herat out to the West, up along the Iranian border and in Southern Afghanistan, both in Lashkargah, which has been a long contested area, and

Kandahar, an iconic population center in Southern Afghanistan.

If indeed the Taliban were able to take over Kandahar that would be a signal to the world of the weakness of the Afghan's central government of

Afghan's security forces. So you can properly assume that there's a good deal of effort to try and push the Taliban back.

What we had been told several days ago, in fact that Afghan security forces were reconfiguring, trying to hold on to the major population centers, not

at all clear that they at this point are going to be able to do that, and how far these U.S. airstrikes may go.

All of this coming as we get word from the State Department today, here in Washington that they are trying to expand eligibility for this Afghan

refugee program so that more Afghans who feel they are in jeopardy for at one time having helped the United States will be able to escape across

borders and get eventually visas for the United States. Not a lot of details on how all of that will go Becky.

ANDERSON: Yes. And as you get further details, please do bring those details to us. Thank you, Barbara. Well, the U.S. also watching as a

Colombian town is overwhelmed by migrants trying to reach its shores for months. Thousands of migrants trying to reach the States have become

stranded in near courtly on the Caribbean Coast. It's triggered a humanitarian emergency and pandemic lockdowns have cut down on the number

of people traveling through the region.

Now though, the borders are opening back up the numbers are absolutely alarming. And that is a direct quote from the Director of the Colombian

Migration Agency. Stefano Pozzebon has been speaking directly with people who have decided to risk it all. What are they telling you Stefano?

STEFANO POZZEBON, JOURNALIST: Yes Becky, we are here in Necocli, and there are two things that we need - really need to understand from these stories

Becky. The first one is that that journey ahead towards the United States towards America is much produced and very few people are doing it in the

first attempt.

Most of the people around me who are for example, this group of Haitian migrants who are queuing for a ticket to try get on the other side of the

sea have been relocated to South America. And because of the pandemic they have lost their way of living and now see no other option than going back -

then going up north up towards the United States. We spoke extensively with one of them. And here is what he told us Becky.


POZZEBON (voice over): It's barely dawn when a group of migrants start lining up for a seat on the boats that travel from the Coastal Colombian

town of Necocli, towards Panama. These Pristine Caribbean beaches, usually packed with tourists from around the world, have recently become a

passageway for thousands of migrants from all over South America and even Africa looking for better opportunities thousands of miles away in the

United States.


POZZEBON (voice over): People from Haiti, Venezuela, Brazil, and even as far as Ghana across the Gulf of Arabia. And then set on a treacherous and

violent journey through a 37 mile stretch of jungle between Colombia and Panama, joining the thousands of other migrants heading to Mexico, and then

to the United States, and ignoring the Biden Administration's don't come message to migrants. Here we met - a chef from Togo who migrated to Chile

to work as a gardener.

EDEM AGBANZO, MIGRANT FROM TOGO: And then and then the pandemic happened. The pandemic happened is like - is like our dead - I don't know he was


POZZEBON (voice over): Edem says this is his third journey seeking a better future. In 2018, he left his parents behind in his native Togo, to move to

Ghana to work in the kitchens. Then in 2018, he left Ghana and flew to the other side of the world to Chile. Now at 30 his hopes are set on another


POZZEBON (on camera): Where in the United States you want to go?

AGBANZO: Georgia. Georgia, because I have some family in Georgia and I hope that because the problem is the fact that if you went to the border of the

USA, the authority is going to ask you some question. And you have to - they have to know if you have somebody in USA or not.

POZZEBON (voice over): But the road to the United States is perilous, minutes before recording this interview Edem and his friend - discovered

that they had been robbed. They had spent the night in a boat on the beach and found their belongings scattered and searched. They had their passports

and money with them. But some of their food was stolen.

Edem and Victor are waiting for the next boat ride and like many others had no other choice than spending the night on the beach. Some were able to

stay in hotels a safer choice, but a more expensive one. Waiting here cost a lot when you cannot work and don't know when you will leave says - a

Haitian mother who lived in Brazil for six years before the pandemic and is now traveling with her two children.

In these remote small town transports are limited. There is just one Boat Company crossing the Gulf from Necocli to the Port of Ghana, and they are

completely sold out. Other book companies are hours away.

EDWARD VILLARREAL, CARIBE S.A.S. FERRY COMPANY: It is hard. We tried to transport like 800, 900 people for a day.

POZZEBON (voice over): The fear costs $20 and the company says it has a backlog of more than 8000 migrants who have already paid their trip and are

waiting for their turn. Some fear it might take up to 10 days to leave. Colombian Defense Minister Diego Molano visited Necocli last weekend,

pledging the navy will provide a temporary pie or to allow more boats to take the migrants to the other side of the Gulf.

POZZEBON (on camera): But the governments have - might be too little and a bit too late as more migrants continue to arrive here in Necocli on a daily

basis, putting a heavy load on the small community.

POZZEBON (voice over): The few who have made it on the boat feel relief, but for all of them this is just one part of the journey.

AGBANZO: I think we got to join Costa Rica, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Nicaragua - other country.

POZZEBON (voice over): Hope is just a feeble flame at the end of the road.


POZZEBON: Becky, Edem's story is a paragon of million stories that are happening right now throughout the world. It's a window to the future,

Becky of what will happen around the world that if the root causes of migration are not addressed by the time the war comes back after the COVID-

19 pandemic.

The U.S. administration has pledged to address those roots but much still needs to be done round here in the south of the world to do.

ANDERSON: Yes, very good point Stefano thank you. Well, coming up an Olympic Champion arrives home but can his surprising success in the pool

help heal his nation's wounds that story after this.



ANDERSON: One of the most stunning upsets that the Olympics so far came with Tunisian Swimmer Ahmed Hafnaoui winning gold in the men's 400 meter

freestyle event. He is just the fifth athlete representing Tunisia to win Olympic gold in any sport and for a country rocked by political turmoil and

the COVID pandemic victory, certainly welcome news Michael Holmes with his story.


MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): A hero's welcome for a Tunisian swimmer who brought home Olympic Gold in a shocking win that

surprised his competitors, the sporting world, and even himself.

18-year-old Ahmed Hafnaoui was the longest of long shots, the slowest qualifier for the men's 400 meter freestyle, but he out swam the favorites

to get the gold. And even more stunning is he did it from the outside lane.

I felt shivers when I heard the national anthem Hafnaoui says adding I'm much honored. Tunisia's newest media star is a welcome distraction for the

country, suffering from a stagnant economy made worse by a surge of Coronavirus that's overwhelming hospitals and an escalating political


The nation's president recently dismissed the prime minister and suspended parliament for 30 days. But despite the chaos and uncertainty and

government, many Tunisians celebrating Hafnaoui's win as a bright spot during a difficult period, even one of swimming's greats, Michael Phelps

called the performance an unbelievable swim.

Neighbors poured out in the street to greet the newly minted champion. As one man says seeing him touch that wall first was a win for everyone. When

I was watching, I cannot tell you how we felt at this final moment he says this is the feeling of every Tunisian. An underdog going from right to the

top of the podium, giving much needed hope to the country he returns to. Michael Holmes, CNN.


ANDERSON: Leaving you on a positive note it is a very good evening from London.