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New Lebanon Government Formed for First Time Since Port Blast; Second Qatari Charter Flight Takes Off from Kabul Airport; Taliban Back in Power 20 Years Since 9/11 Attacks; Evidence of Torture, Mass Detention and Executions in Tigray Region; Children in Several Indian States Return to Classrooms amid COVID-19; Students on Pandemic's Impact on Learning. Aired 10-11a ET
Aired September 10, 2021 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: I will try and stop the country's collapse. A promise from Lebanon's new prime minister in his first address
to the nation.
Passengers board a second charter plane from Kabul enroute for Qatar under the eyes of the Taliban.
And it's the battle of the teens at the final of the U.S. Open. More on who is competing, coming up.
It's 6:00 p.m. in Abu Dhabi. I'm Becky Anderson. Hello, and welcome to the show. We have a very, very busy two hours ahead for you.
We want to begin with the developing news out of Lebanon where the new prime minister made an emotional address after he formed a new government
today ending a power vacuum that has lasted for over a year.
Najib Mikati, a billionaire who has previously served twice as prime minister, says the situation in Lebanon is difficult but not impossible,
and he promised to ease the suffering of the people. Mikati is the third politician tasked with forming a government since a massive blast destroyed
Beirut's port and much of the surrounding area last August. Even earlier Lebanon have been in a crisis mode crippled by a financial meltdown and a
shortage of fuel.
CNN's Arwa Damon has been reporting on the crisis in Lebanon for years so she joins us now live.
Arwa, what do we know about the makeup of this new government? The prime minister quite emotional during his first address.
ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He was, Becky, although it's highly unlikely that the vast majority of the Lebanese population is
really going to relate to those tears or the emotion that he portrayed because from their perspective they have suffered way too long at the hands
of the country's political elites.
Now this government formation is an exact reflection pretty much of the country's previous government, of the country's political elite many of
whom are to blame for the nation's current status. That being said, though, this government is most definitely better than no government at all.
And when we talk about Lebanon's economic meltdown, when we talk about the challenges that the population is facing, let's lay that out a little bit.
The situation is so dire that the Lebanese lira lost around 90 percent of its precrisis value.
What does that mean? That means that for most working Lebanese their salaries are effectively worth almost nothing. The majority of the
population right now has been driven underneath the poverty line. When it comes to the lack of fuel, Becky, the situation was so dire at one point
that one of the country's leading hospitals put out a plea to be able to get fuel to run life-saving equipment.
Why is that vital to run life-saving equipment? Because they need to get their generators started. Why does the generator need to get started? Well,
because Lebanon for pretty much decades now has not been able to properly get its own electrical grid up and running.
This government is going to be facing extreme challenges and under the scrutiny not just of the Lebanese population but also of the international
community. They're going to have to get economic reforms going. They're going to have to ensure that the 2022 parliamentary elections are held on
time, and perhaps most crucially they're going to have to renegotiate loans, aid from the IMF.
Now, this is something that Prime Minister Najib Mikati could potentially be very well placed to do. It's his third rodeo. He's very well known to
key global institutions and, of course, to key current government leaders. But at the same time, you know, this is a population that has been through
so much, Becky, especially since that devastating Beirut port blast that one Lebanese man that CNN spoke to said that he thought that the blast was
rock bottom, only to find out that everything the country has been through since then given everything that it has been through since then it can
actually fall even further.
ANDERSON: Arwa Damon, on the story, for you, and folks, we will do a lot more on this as we move through the next couple of hours. Thank you, Arwa.
Well, tomorrow is the 20th anniversary of the terror attacks on the U.S. that changed the world and set off a war in Afghanistan that pushed the
Taliban from power, costing thousands of lives and trillions of dollars as it dragged on for almost two decades.
Well, now on the eve of those attacks the Taliban are back in power showing no signs of promised inclusivity in their newly announced interim
government, making young men and women sit separately, mainly universities, part of their strict interpretation of Sharia law, and responding to
peaceful protests with increasing violence that according to the United Nations has led to at least four deaths. The U.N. Human Rights Office
speaking out today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAVINA SHAMDASANI, SPOKESWOMAN, U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS OFFICE: We call on the Taliban to immediately cease the use of force towards and the arbitrary
detention of those exercising their right to peaceful assembly and the journalists who are covering the protests.
Protests have been taking place since the 15th of August and were increasing in number until Wednesday evening's instruction on the
prohibition of unlawful assemblies. Reports indicate a growing resort to the harsh use of force against those involved in and those reporting on the
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Well, the Taliban, though, are following through on a commitment to allow foreign nationals to leave the country, at least some of them. And
within the past 30 minutes a second charter flight from Qatar took off from Kabul's airport after landing there a few hours ago. The flight that left
Kabul on Thursday arrived in Doha with more than 100 foreign nationals including Americans, Canadians, Ukrainians, Germans, and Brits.
CNN's international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson connecting us today from Kabul. Nic was reporting from there when the attacks happened 20 years
ago. And we'll talk more about that shortly. Firstly, let's talk just about the second Qatari charter flight that just left Kabul.
Do we know who was on board?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: We don't. We know that there were passengers because they were seen getting on board the aircraft.
It had come in with aid. It is I think expected that we'll get more details on that later in the day. This is the way events unfolded yesterday.
Details came out much later about who was on the plane, the 30 plus Americans, 43 Canadians, 13 Brits, Germans, and Ukrainians.
So precisely who's on the plane we don't know at this time. We do know U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that he welcomed the Taliban's
action in allowing, you know, making possible this plane's departure. He said that the United States was working with regional partners to try to
facilitate this but he also said it was important that more Afghans who -- or foreign nationals, who have the right paperwork and want to leave the
country are allowed to do so.
So I think the expectation has been all along, yesterday's flight one, today's appears to have been two. More details to come and potentially more
after that -- Becky.
ANDERSON: Yes. And that has been the focus, hasn't it, for America's top diplomat, these evacuations? As of course the U.S. leaves the country,
what, 25 or 26 days ago, and the Taliban took over, we have an interim government. And that pretty much draws a line under the past 20 years. You
have a very compelling look for us back on your reporting from Afghanistan 20 years ago and the years since.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): Behind the Taliban's newly painted huge flag, America's Kabul embassy. Inside the grounds, buried under a plot, debris
from New York's twin Trade Center Towers. Ten years ago America's then ambassador Ryan Crocker who had overseen the memorial on his first tour
told me it was there so future diplomats would remember what triggered U.S. involvement in Afghanistan.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nic, what do you have at this point?
ROBERTSON (on-camera): We just had an impact perhaps two miles away.
ROBERTSON (Voice-over): I was in Kabul during the 9/11 attacks. Each major anniversary I analyzed the intervening years. This was 10 years ago.
ROBERTSON (On-camera): There are no signs yet of serious contact between the Afghan government and the Taliban, and it could be that the Taliban
will wait out the foreign presence here.
ROBERTSON (Voice-over): Crocker wanted the talks but doubted the Taliban would negotiate in good faith.
RYAN CROCKER, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO AFGHANISTAN 2011-2012: Their goal is rather simply to re-Talibanize Afghanistan, to retake the country. And if
they do, then al Qaeda is going to be back in here. The only reason al Qaeda isn't here now is because we are.
ROBERTSON: Fast forward to today, 20 years of foreign policy fears realized. American troops and diplomats gone. The Taliban ousting the U.S.
backed government, capturing much of the inventory of the Afghan army the U.S. helped build. Proudly showing off warehouses, loaded with weapons.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Look, these boxes are full, all new, unused.
ROBERTSON: More, much more than the Taliban ever had before.
The new Taliban government as uncompromising as the one America ousted after the 9/11 attacks. Their newly appointed powerful interior minister,
Sirajuddin Haqqani, has a $10 million FBI bounty on his head for ties to terrorism and al Qaeda. In 2020 they promised not to fight for power but to
negotiate in good faith. Promised al Qaeda won't use Afghanistan again to attack the U.S.
Now there is another potentially more dangerous enemy rooted in Afghanistan -- ISIS.
ROBERTSON (On-camera): We drove this road to Kabul just a few days before al Qaeda's attack on September 11th. Al Qaeda was in the mountains over
there, Tora Bora. Today it's ISIS that's a bigger threat here.
ROBERTSON (Voice-over): The roads are in better condition now, thanks in good part to American tax dollars. The towns brighter, better developed,
more prosperous. All a positive part of the legacy of America's longest war.
ROBERTSON (On-camera): But here's the hard reality. Because of years of evolving and often intertwined agendas and alliances with al Qaeda and
similar groups, at a grassroots fighter level, if the Taliban tries to crack down on their former brothers in arms, they could face pushback, even
division in their own ranks.
ROBERTSON (Voice-over): Right after the 9/11 attacks, we asked Kabul residents what would happen if U.S. forces came.
The result of Russian aggression was the breaking of Russia into 16 countries, this old man says, remembering the 1980s Soviet occupation. If
America attacks us Allah will divide America into 52 pieces.
Back then it seemed inconceivable America could fail. Twenty years later the Taliban's writing outside the embassy wall in effect claims exactly
that. The conditions are possible, a pariah government, a potential failing economy, point to trouble ahead and fragile guarantees at best it won't
reach America's shores again.
ROBERTSON: It's about the issue of trust here, Becky. You know, the Taliban really didn't trust the United States in the end at all that they would get
what they wanted which was to run the country. That's why they insisted on the August 31st deadline.
The United States doesn't really trust the Taliban to do what it says on getting foreign nationals and others out of the country. That's why we keep
hearing from the State Department saying that we hear their words. We want to see their actions. It's this trust issue that's really going to cement
the Taliban's future as a government, their success as a government, and the type of country that Afghanistan becomes.
Because if that trust deficit doesn't get built, the international community doesn't have faith in the Taliban's leadership, the money won't
come, the economy will plummet, and this country will inevitably, if that scenario plays out that way, go backwards.
ANDERSON: Just briefly, Nic, oftentimes when we're talking about the money that is outstanding at present or frozen at present, and the support that
Afghanistan needs, we tend to talk about the support and institutions that have this money from the West. I mean, who is prepared to work with the
Taliban at this point? Is it becoming any clearer?
ROBERTSON: Well, I think there is engagement. And remember one of the first narratives at least from, you know, the former western -- the Western
nations who were formerly engaged back in the last Afghan government. They said, look, we have to stand together. We have to present a common front to
the Taliban and common pressures and to agree that is to a degree that's what we've been hearing. We're hearing that from the U.N., you played that
bit of the report before about human rights, et cetera earlier on.
So the West is holding back. Turkey, Qatar, Pakistan have the best diplomatic relations. Russia, China can have big sway, but no one it seems
is jumping up right now to recognize this Taliban government.
ANDERSON: Nic Robertson is in Kabul.
Well, one programming note. Join CNN as we honor the victims of the 9/11 attacks, "9/11: 20 Years Later" airs this Saturday. Our coverage starts at
8:00 a.m. in the eastern U.S., 4:00 in the afternoon here in Abu Dhabi, and wherever you're watching in the world. I'm sure you can work out what the
times are locally for you.
We are taking a very short break at this point. Stay with us, though. Up next a CNN exclusive investigation uncovers evidence of renewed ethnic
cleansing in Ethiopia's Tigray region. Our report is coming up next.
ANDERSON: The CNN Investigation has uncovered evidence of the torture, mass detention, and execution of residents in the town of Humera in Ethiopia's
Tigray region. For almost a year now conflict has raged in Ethiopia's Tigray region and now bodies are turning up once more carried downriver
into neighboring Sudan from Tigray.
For much of the conflict, the United States, United Nations, and the international community have failed to hold high level Ethiopian officials
to account for their roles in the atrocities committed.
Well, now CNN's findings point to a renewed campaign of ethnic cleansing, one which bears all the hallmarks of genocide as defined by international
Now, look. I'm going to have to warn you, Nima Elbagir's investigation contains graphic and disturbing imagery. Here it is.
NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the Setit River, a source of life for the people living along its banks.
For weeks the river has been bringing with it dark secrets from the Ethiopian region of Tigray. Mangled corpses are mysteriously appearing here
downstream in Sudan.
ELBAGIR (On-camera): We just got a call that three bodies were found down at the river front, so we're running down to see what we can see.
ELBAGIR (Voice-over): Gerri rushes down ahead of us. He's Tigrayan but has been living here for years. He is a key point of contact for Tigrayans
driven to Sudan by the conflict. Fishermen usually spot them first and call Gerri. On both sides of the border Tigrayans keep a grim tally of those
believed to have been executed by Ethiopian forces that somehow end up in the river.
This is an awful job but one Tigrayans say is their duty. We reached the first body on this small island. We must warn you the images you are about
to see are very disturbing.
From the binds still biting into his skin, it's clear this man suffered a tortured death. This Tigrayan has been helping to recover the dead. He
holds up the body but the image is too gruesome to show you. His eyes, though, betray the horror in front of him.
ELBAGIR (On-camera): They pulled the body out and the stench was immediate. It clearly had been decomposing along the river for a number of days and he
was tied back with a plastic wire clearly restrained and part of the skull was collapsed in.
This is a horrible, horrible sight.
ELBAGIR (Voice-over): They moved to pick up someone else. Gerri makes notes of the bodies and their markings. He's trying to piece together this
mystery for his people. He doesn't trust anyone to do it for them.
Among the flotsam, another body. Sudanese authorities take photographs as evidence. This is a crime scene. But the potential perpetrators are far
from here in Ethiopia.
The second body is put into the same body bag. They have such few resources but are determined to maintain a certain dignity. They're buried near the
river in a shallow grave in hope that one day they will be exhumed and reburied in their homeland. For now, though, there are only two shovels and
a pick. Others join in pushing the earth with their bare hands.
Laid to rest on unconsecrated ground, the Christian Tigrayans desperately try to give respect to their dead, marking the grave with a makeshift cross
held together with a single facemask.
A new dawn rises. Witnesses and local authorities tell us it brings with it 11 new bodies. For months now we have been investigating atrocities
committed by Ethiopian and allied forces in Tigray. It's clear to us this marks a new chapter in the ethnic cleansing of the region. But here in
Sudan there are survivors. The living speaking on behalf of the dead.
Escapees, eyewitnesses from the Ethiopian border town of Humera described to us a renewed campaign of mass incarcerations and executions.
ELBAGIR (On-camera): The numbers that they're telling us are extraordinary. We're talking about possibly over 10,000 people detained just for being
Tigrayan, they say.
ELBAGIR (Voice-over): We begin to piece together the puzzle. We are here in Sudan, in Wad El Hilou. Upstream in Ethiopia is Humera. Based on
descriptions from multiple escaped detainees, Humera and its surroundings have become a mass detention facility. We were able to pinpoint the
locations. Enda Yitbarek, a storage facility. The electric goods warehouse Nay Kedem Mebrat Hayl where electric wire is stored. Bet Hintset, the old
prison. Enda Goona, the sesame warehouse.
The list goes on. Via eyewitness testimony and satellite imagery we verified the existence of at least seven mass detention facilities in
Humera where torture is rampant, and two outside town including a military camp, and the Enda'kuwaja.
These are pictures of Tigrayan victims, husbands, fathers, sons. Many show victims restrained using the same small gauge yellow electrical wire
identified by eyewitnesses as having been stored in the electric goods warehouse in Humera. CNN spoke to multiple eyewitnesses and international
and local forensic experts.
Most of the victims were tortured, executed, piled on top of each other, most likely in a facility or a mass grave before ending up in the river.
After examining the bodies, experts were able to pin point one of the techniques used. Victims had their arms tied back at the elbows in an
excruciatingly painful torture position.
In the last few weeks Tigrayans say the bodies of over 60 victims have floated into Sudan from Ethiopia, evidence of a methodical campaign, one
which bears all the hallmarks of genocide as defined by international law. Up in this remote corner of Sudan, this is evidence the world wasn't meant
Gerri takes us to see the first person he laid to rest. The water will eventually reclaim the body, but this was the best Gerri could do. Already
beginning to fall apart the body couldn't be moved. An image which still haunts him.
GEBRETENSAE "GERRI" GEBREKRISTOS, TIGRAYAN COMMUNITY LEADER: (Speaking in Foreign Language) Leaving the body here hurts my heart. But what can I do?
To leave your people by the river? Your sister, your brother, not laid properly to rest. When you see that it hurts you, hurts your heart. But
what can you do? This is what we have been condemned to.
ELBAGIR: Gerri stays vigilant looking out towards his homeland. As long as this conflict continues the threat of more executions, more bodies floating
downstream, is ever present.
ANDERSON: And Nima Elbagir is with me live right now.
What's the Ethiopian government have to say about these allegations in your report, Nima?
ELBAGIR: Well, we shared our findings with the Ethiopian government and they issued a statement via a U.S. public relations firm, Mercury, saying
that the -- they were investigating the allegations but because of what they call several inconsistencies in these allegations they are working
with local authorities to investigate them and they will prosecute anyone found guilty to the fullest extent of the law -- Becky.
ANDERSON: Nima, does the international community believe that the Ethiopian government is doing enough in investigating not just what we've seen in
your latest reporting but the extent to which we have seen allegations of these atrocities in the past?
ELBAGIR: Well, the U.N. announced today that the U.N. Human Rights Office was finally going to release its report. It's been a report that's been
ongoing since the beginning of the year, and the issue for many, though, is that this report into the atrocities in the Tigray region is being done as
a part of a joint investigative mechanism with the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission.
Now the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission is a state appointed body. And there have been a lot of concerns shared with us by people on the ground,
by people -- by human rights investigators, some of whom were involved with this reporting, about access problems, about intimidation of witnesses,
that they, themselves, have seen.
The U.N. says that they were able to investigate appropriately. They couldn't get everywhere. But they say that that was because of security
reasons. And now they have to compile their report. And that is another stage that is of concern for people because that is another opportunity for
local authorities or even government level authorities to interfere in this report. The report should be out in November 1st.
The issue is also not just whether Ethiopia is doing enough but is the international community doing enough to pressure Ethiopia, to force them to
actually do something tangible to bring an end to these atrocities if they themselves are not as they claim responsible for these atrocities? And the
answer so far is frankly no. The United States over the summer said that they were going to sanction high level Ethiopian officials and so far we
haven't really seen anything tangible. So can Ethiopia be forced to act on this if nobody is actually successfully pushing them -- Becky.
ANDERSON: Nima, superb reporting. Thank you very much indeed.
ELBAGIR: Thank you.
ANDERSON: Nima Elbagir.
And ahead on the show we continue our trip to classrooms around the world where millions of school kids are returning. We're going to hear from
parents, teachers, and students about how they are feeling about it. And not one but two young tennis sensations are reaching for the crown at the
U.S. Open. We'll look at the secret of their success coming up.
ANDERSON: Welcome back. I'm Becky Anderson in Abu Dhabi. It's half past 6:00 here. You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD.
All this week, we've been talking about the pandemic's pretty bad impact on learning for students around the globe. From Mexico to Israel to Australia,
we've taken a look at how this has become a worldwide phenomenon.
Now that hundreds of millions of students are returning to classrooms, teachers are in a race to make up for lost time. Still, many parents are
terrified at sending their kids back into classrooms while COVID-19 remains a very real threat and perhaps understandably.
Well. today we're zooming in on India. Schools in several states there are bringing children back into the classrooms but many Indian experts want all
schools back open. They say the benefits of in-person learning outweigh the risks of COVID.
Well, CNN's Vedika Sud has been speaking to parents, to teachers, and to kids southwest of the capital New Delhi, and she joins me now live.
What's been the response? How are parents and indeed students feeling about this return to classrooms?
VEDIKA SUD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good to be with you, Becky. Well, the question is to send or not to send them to school. That's the dilemma that
they're facing at this point in time. You know, amidst strict COVID-19 protocols many states are now allowing schools to reopen here in India,
Becky, but the concerns of parents are reasonable, aren't they, given that India is just coming out of a second wave which peaked in the months of
April and May. We all know how devastating it was for people across the country.
And now there are fears of a third wave next month. So parents are really worried at this point in time. But for students that we spoke to it's such
a special moment going back into schools after months of being at home and learning remotely.
Here's a report.
SUD (on-camera): Aeden, what are you drawing?
AEDEN GOEL, STUDENT: I am drawing a T-shirt with a message.
SUD: What's the message?
GOEL: The message is no COVID-19. So it means to stop COVID so everybody can be free.
SUD (voice-over): The pandemic kept 8-year-old Aeden away from school for months but now he is back in his classroom masked and socially distanced
from his peers. The usual chatter is back in corridors. Amidst strict COVID-19 measures almost one-third of the school's students have returned
PRITHVI PANDE, STUDENT: I was nervous at first because the pandemic was still going on because there's always a chance we can also get it but these
safety protocols I am getting confident by each minute.
AHANA GUPTA, STUDENT: My mom is a bit nervous but then she also knows that I'll be careful while doing school. So not that nervous.
SUD: Many schools that have reopened in the national capital region have adopted a hybrid model with students speaking in person or remote
instruction. Many parents are nervous about their kids going back. And school management is sensitive to their fears.
SONYA GHANDY MEHTA, DIRECTOR, PATHWAYS WORLD SCHOOL: The second wave affected a lot of our families, affected a lot of our staff members and
their families, so understandably there was a lot of apprehension. But then we also had to consider that while virtual learning has been effective to a
certain extent you can't really replace face-to-face learning.
SUD: Caught between the brutal blow of the second wave and fears of a third, parents know vaccinations are still at least weeks away.
ASTHA MEHRA, PARENT: I would definitely be very comfortable if my daughter and her peers are vaccinated, but I don't see that happening at least in
the near future. So -- but I feel that she is responsible enough and she will have her guards on, and I think she's prepared.
SUD: According to India's Health Ministry a vaccine for children 12 years and above could be rolled out in October, but for children as young as
Aeden it could be a long wait.
(On-camera): Are you happy to be back at school?
GOEL: Very happy.
SUD: Clearly, it is the vaccine that's keeping a lot of parents away from schools as far as their children are concerned. There is this debate and
was at the drawing rooms, Becky. That's what I heard from parents we spoke to. The parents -- the children want to go back to school. The parents are
holding them back. They're really hoping that the rolling out of the first vaccine for children 12 years and above happens some time at least this
ANDERSON: Vedika, always a pleasure. Thank you very much.
Well, I sat down a short time ago with four students there from Mexico, Australia, Greece, and the UAE. And I asked them, what sort of impact
pandemic lockdowns and online learning has had on them personally?
JAD NASSER, AUSTRALIAN STUDENT: I pretty much got affected socially and even during my learning as I couldn't learn as properly as I could during
face to face. I would understand as much as I did during face to face and socially I didn't really like it because I'm more of an open kid. I like to
talk to people and I like to be active and everything. So lockdowns haven't really been very good for me.
ANDERSON: Ariadne, you felt some anxiety you say in this whole sort of online learning environment. Explain why.
ARIADNE MAVRANTONAKI, GREEK STUDENT: Yes, it was kind of difficult for me I guess being online. Learning was more difficult. And I could get distracted
more. And just overall because we had like to quarantine, it was very difficult. It was so great to get back to the normal, to reality, and start
interacting again with others.
ANDERSON: Do you think what you've been through will have a long-lasting impact on you?
MAVRANTONAKI: In certain aspects, yes. I think, like, the anxiety and the stress, like I still have it and I think that I will keep, like, have some
of that for a long time. But now things are getting back to normal.
ANDERSON: Yes. Sama, does that resonate with you? What sort of impact did being at home have on you?
SAMA ABU ZEID, ABU DHABI STUDENT: I didn't realize how I took socializing for granted. Now I have like a newfound respect for seeing people around
me, being around people all the time. It made me a much more social person being able to talk to people and it just makes everything much more
exciting to be around others.
ANDERSON: Jula, you're nodding there. That clearly makes sense to you. What have you been through?
JULA KURIBRENA, MEXICAN STUDENT: Well, online, I just -- all my friends were a grade above me so they all graduated and I wasn't able to make new
friends from my grade until this year. And it's been great because there's people who I haven't talked to in so long. And just everything, like
learning online I would completely forget about deadlines and assignments because I didn't like physically have them with me. So I'm really, really
grad to be back.
ANDERSON: Sama, here in Abu Dhabi had a much publicized very successful vaccination campaign, and one of the best in the world. How do you feel
about getting vaccinated? And just explain, is that a necessity to be at school here in the UAE?
ABU ZEID: Yes, for people age 16 and above it's necessary to be vaccinated. I'm 15 and I still got the vaccination just to help contribute into the
community. I think UAE is one of the most vaccinated countries in the world. It makes me really proud because slowly as all countries unite in
vaccination soon this will be over (INAUDIBLE).
ANDERSON: Jula, just explain what is going on in Mexico City, and I'm interested from you, given that the report that we ran out of Mexico City
talked about the anxiety that parents had about schools not being equipped well enough to actually protect children and young adults going back to
work. Are you sufficient -- going back to school. Are you sufficiently confident that the school is a safe environment for you going forward?
KURIBRENA: I think my school is doing a very, very good job keeping everyone safe. We're really privileged and we have the -- like all of the
resources we need to go back in and to be in person, so I'm glad we're using them. And my school ran a survey recently about vaccinations in like
the high school and the middle school.
And our high school students are 70 percent vaccinated, which is really, really good for Mexico right now.
ANDERSON: We talked a lot about students, don't we, and students getting back into school and how they've been affected. We thought we'd talk to the
students themselves. So the voices of four youngsters all of whom are in or are headed back to school.
Well, still to come the teen takeover. How two little known young women found their way to the finals of the U.S. Open. Stay with us.
ANDERSON: Well, it may be the most surprising and quite frankly unlikely grand slam final in tennis history. Two teenagers both unseeded and
relatively unknown when the U.S. Open started but after a pair of victories on Thursday night, they are due to face off with each other in the U.S.
Open Final. Yes, they are.
"WORLD SPORT's'" Don Riddell is here with more.
And just explain who these two youngsters are because there will be folks around the world who have no idea.
DON RIDDELL, CNN SPORT ANCHOR: Yes, it is absolutely extraordinary. And they play brilliant tennis. This is no fluke, Becky. But they have kind of
come from nowhere.
Let's start with Emma Raducanu who is of diverse descent, shall we say? Chinese parents and Romanian parents born in Canada now lives in the U.K.
Ranked 150th in the world at the start of this tournament. She had to qualify to get into this tournament. She's had her A levels earlier this
summer doing very well in her high school and now here she is in what is only her second grand slam appearance. She made her debut at Wimbledon and
did really well earlier this summer.
Here's she is. She had to qualify to get into the tournament. She hasn't lost a set yet. She is looking absolutely unstoppable.
Leylah Fernandez, however, equally extraordinary story. She's ranked 73rd in the world. She'd never been past the third round of a major until now.
She is a Filipino and Ecuadorian descent. She is born in Canada, grown up in Canada, and they absolutely love her there.
And this is just an absolutely brilliant story. The first time that we've had two teenagers playing in the grand slam final since 1999 and I think
whatever happens they both have a very, very bright future ahead.
ANDERSON: Well, the wonderful thing is one of them is going to win, right?
RIDDELL: Yes. For sure.
ANDERSON: One of them at the end of -- at the back end of the weekend will be a grand slam winner which is absolutely unbelievable.
We wish them both the very best of luck. You'll do more on that I'm sure in "WORLD SPORT" after this short break. We're back after that.
(CNN WORLD SPORT)
ANDERSON: Wonderful stuff. That's amazing. Showed me a picture of you back in 2006 because you don't age either, you know that.
RIDDELL: That was very kind of you to say. I wish that was true.
ANDERSON: It is. Thank you, Don.
I'm Becky Anderson. That is "WORLD SPORT" for you. CONNECT THE WORLD is up next.