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Russian Shelling Hits Maternity Ward in Kherson; Alexei Navalny Says He's Being Injected with "Unknown Drug"; COVID-19 Cases Surge as China Eases Restrictions; Interview with King Abdullah II of Jordan about Hopes and Aspirations for 2023; Key Moments in Ukraine-Russia Conflict; Migrants at U.S. Border Disappointed at Extension of Title 42; Southwest Airlines Cancels Thousands More Flights; Top 10 Sports Moments of 2022. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired December 28, 2022 - 10:00   ET




BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST (voice-over): As 2022 draws to a close, I speak to Jordan's King Abdullah in a CNN exclusive about the challenges facing

his region and his thoughts about the future.

Also, Russian shelling hits a maternity ward in the southern city of Kherson as the Kremlin continues to target civilian infrastructure in

Ukraine. And --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): This feels like a bucket of cold water because we do not know what to do now.

ANDERSON (voice-over): The controversial U.S. border policy stays in place, for now at least. The impact of Title 42 restrictions on migrants at

the U.S.-Mexico border.



ANDERSON: Well, I'm Becky Anderson, hello, welcome to CONNECT THE WORLD.

A wide-ranging interview with His Majesty, King Abdullah is in a few minutes, please stay with us for that.

First, some of the other news headlines for you. We begin with a change of plans for Russian president Vladimir Putin. His last-minute trip to the

Pskov region in Western Russia has been canceled due to what Kremlin calls flight conditions.

Now it's worth noting that region is close to the border with Latvia and Estonia. In Ukraine, Moscow appears to be intensifying its attacks on

Kherson, including shelling a hospital after Russian troops were forced out of the southern city last month.

At the same time, Kremlin critic, Alexei Navalny says that he is being injected with an unknown drug while being held in a high security prison in


Looming over all of this, the U.N. has reported a death toll of nearly 7,000 civilians across Ukraine since the invasion began. With so much to

cover, let's get you to CNN's Clare Sebastian who is with us tonight from London.

Let's start with what's going on in the ground in Kherson. The shelling of this maternity hospital ward.

What do we know?

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know, Becky, civilian targets are squarely in the firing line in that city. It has become a very

dangerous place for civilians. They've gone from months of Russian occupation into this relentless bombardment.

We saw at least 10 people killed on Christmas Eve in a massive mortar attack on the center of the city. It continues, so not surprisingly,

civilians are trying to get out. The Ukrainian government says it's helping them, it's providing trains, taking them out of the city, around 300 a day,

according to the deputy prime minister.

Some of those struggling with the idea of leaving, as is often the case with local officials. Some people need a bit of convincing. But they're

worried that wherever they go in Ukraine, they might be hit by shelling.

But clearly, all of this reveals that what Sergey Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, said earlier this week, reiterated today by the Kremlin

spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, that Russia will not countenance any kind of compromise when it comes to these illegally annexed regions, which Kherson

is one of them.

Even though this shows they don't actually occupy all of those regions. They will not consider anything other than full control of that. If not, as

they've said, the military will take matters into their own hands. This violence is a clear sign of that.

ANDERSON: Clare, the Russian president was supposed to be on the move today. He is not.

Do we know why?

SEBASTIAN: We only know, Becky, what they have said, which is that he canceled the trip last-minute and is just going to carry it out virtually.

He has been out there recently, I will say, meeting with different people, traveling, including to Belarus, out of the country.

It could be, this is just speculation, we don't know for sure, that the president's proximity to the border with Estonia and Lithuania, there were

potentially safety concerns that they were taking into account there. As of now, we do not know any more than that.

ANDERSON: Finally, Alexei Navalny making some claims from the prison where he is being held.

Have we had a response from the Russians?

SEBASTIAN: Not as such, Becky, we only know what he himself is saying on his Twitter account, which we assume, as he has in the past.


SEBASTIAN: He is getting that message out by his team and by his lawyers and he is saying that the conditions he's facing in prison are worsening,

essentially accusing the authorities of chipping away purposefully at his health, as a way to pressure him.

He said he's been experiencing back pain as a result of that. They have made things worse by putting him in an isolation cell, only a stool to sit

on during the day. And when he asked for a doctor, that took a long time.

And when that happened, he said he was injected with an unknown substance, which they eventually told him was vitamin B. But it did not. Help, then

when he tried to get his medical records, that took a while as well. And they were not very readable when he got them. So he's continuing to protest

those conditions.

ANDERSON: Clare Sebastian is on the story, the various legs of that reporting tonight, thank you.

Well, Hong Kong is scrapping its mandatory PCR COVID tests for international arrivals, something Mainland China has also just announced.

Hong Kong's chief executive says the government will also end its vaccine pass, which is needed to enter most venues.

Well, as COVID cases rise in China, Taiwan is ramping up restrictions. That island now requiring all travelers arriving from Mainland China to take a

COVID PCR test. Japan and India announcing similar policies earlier this week.

The change in China's restrictions also means that some Chinese citizens will finally be able to return home after years away due to the pandemic.

CNN's Selina Wang has more.


SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The world's harshest quarantine is no more. As COVID sweeps through China, the country is

scrapping quarantine for inbound travelers from January 8 and promising to gradually restore outbound tourism.

Since the start of the pandemic, China has severely limited who can go in and out of the country, drastically cutting the number of flights and

cutting arrivals into government facilities.

I went through multiple quarantines in China this year, lasting as long as 21 days. There is no choice where you go or what room you get. Once the

doors close, you can only open them for COVID tests and food pickups.

Workers sprayed disinfectant in the hallways every few hours. Food delivery is not allowed. But breakfast, lunch and dinner are part of quarantine

fees. All of that is soon going away. It a huge relief for Chinese nationals living overseas, like this woman in New York City.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I really want to go back to my home immediately. Right now I'm emotional. I'm almost in tears right now.

WANG: When is the last time you went home to China?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Four years before. I lost several of my family members during the pandemic. I lost my beloved golden retriever. I feel

like I missed everything.

WANG: How is your family doing in China?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Almost everyone got COVID. And they are suffering. My grandpa give me a video call, I cry so badly. At that moment, I don't know

if I will get a chance to see him. He just got COVID and I hope he will be OK.

WANG: On Chinese social media, people have been sharing everything they've lost during three years of border controls, while they were stuck out of

their home country. One writes: I received the bad news of my father's unexpected death while I was in a quarantine hotel but I couldn't go back

to see him for the last time.

Another writes, "Because of the pandemic, I didn't even know that my grandma passed away and I heard it from my mother a month later."

This new change finally ends China's ban on non-essential travel for Chinese citizens. I feel like the pandemic is finally over, the travel

plans I made three years ago may finally become a reality she says.

It's exciting news for potential travelers but at home, the country is struggling to grapple with the explosion in COVID cases.

DR. HOWARD BERNSTEIN, BEIJING UNITED FAMILY HOSPITAL: The hospital is just overwhelmed from top to bottom. There was no preparation. Like nobody knew.

There was no stockpiling of medications.

WANG: This viral video of the southern city of Guangzhou shows a man kneeling on the ground at a fever clinic, breaking down and begging the

nurse to let him see the doctor after waiting for hours.

Fever and cold medicine are nearly impossible to get at drugstores across the country. Antivirals are also extremely hard to get but in a major move,

Beijing has announced it's going to start distributing Paxlovid to the community health centers in the coming days.

So there's chaos and confusion. But with zero COVID in the past, finally, there's light at the end of the tunnel -- Selina Wang, CNN, Beijing.



ANDERSON: Pope Francis is asking for prayers for his predecessor. Benedict the 16th resigned almost 10 years ago, paving the way for Pope Francis'

election. Now 95 years old, the Vatican says Benedict's health is worsening.

Pope Francis says Benedict is, quote, "very sick." He asks for a special prayer at the end of his weekly general audience. Well, Delia Gallagher

joins us live now from Rome.

This is a worrying development.

Are we hearing anything further from the Vatican at this point?

DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN VATICAN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Becky, at this point, what we have is a statement from the Vatican, from a few hours ago saying

that, yes, his health has deteriorated in the last few hours due to advanced age.

As you say, the pope is 95. Doctors are with him and monitoring the situation. It was Pope Francis this morning who first alerted people to the

fact that the pope emeritus was very sick during his weekly audience here at the Vatican. Let's take a listen to what he had to say.


POPE FRANCIS, PONTIFF, ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH (through translator): I want to ask you all for a special prayer for pope emeritus Benedict, assisting

the church and his silence. He is very sick. We asked the Lord to console and sustain him in this witness of love for the church to the very end.


GALLAGHER: Becky, the Vatican says that, just after that general audience, Pope Francis went to visit the pope emeritus. That is all the information

we have at the moment except to say that obviously if Pope Francis and the Vatican are coming out publicly with this information, it means the

situation is very serious.

And we're standing by for updates -- Becky.

ANDERSON: It's just after 10 past four on the afternoon in Rome. Delia, thank you for that.

You are watching CONNECT THE WORLD. I am Becky Anderson. Coming up, my exclusive interview with King Abdullah II of Jordan, who warns of a

potential conflict over Jerusalem, as Benjamin Netanyahu's new right wing government prepares to be sworn in. That and more coming up after this.






ANDERSON (voice-over): We know as betony (ph) beyond the Jordan. On the east bank of the Jordan River, this is the exact location where Christians

believe Jesus was baptized. I have come here to meet with the custodian and regional political leader, King Abdullah II of Jordan.

ABDULLAH II, KING OF JORDAN: Great to have you back, how is everything?

ANDERSON: Very well.

How are you?



ANDERSON (voice-over): As we close out 2022, we're here to discuss the challenges facing this region; not least, his concerns about the region's

shrinking Christian population and why he believes plans to develop and protect this holy site are critical for the community's future in the

Middle East.

ANDERSON: It's an absolute pleasure to have you. I want to talk about why we're here and the significance of this. I do want to start with your

speech at the UNGA this year. I think it's very pertinent to what we are going to discuss. You began your address by saying there are alarm bells.


ABDULLAH: Numerous crises batter our world, crises that are increasingly interlocked, regional conflicts with international impact.

Today, the future of Jerusalem is an urgent concern. The city is holy to billions of Muslims, Christians and Jews around the world. Undermining

Jerusalem's legal and historical status quo triggers global tensions and deepens religious divides. The holy city must not be a place for hatred and



ANDERSON: Can you just reflect on 2022?

ABDULLAH: Jerusalem, we have always believed, is a city that should bring us all together but unfortunate issues by extremists on all sides to create

conflict and violence.

And the violence did pick up in the spring. We are the custodians for both the (INAUDIBLE) in Jerusalem. My concern is that the challenges that the

churches facing from policies on the ground, if we continue to use Jerusalem as a soapbox for politics, things can get out of control really,

really quickly.

ANDERSON: You described Christianity in Jerusalem as under fire.

Can you just explain a little further?

ABDULLAH: We're fortunate in this country and in Jerusalem to have the oldest Christian community in the world. They've been here for 2,000 years.

Over the past several years, we are seeing that they have become under pressure as a community. So the numbers are dropping, which is, I think an

alarm bell to all of us.

ANDERSON (voice-over): 2022 has turned out to be the deadliest year for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in two decades. And Jerusalem is a major


ANDERSON: There are fears of a Third Intifada possibly on the horizon.

How concerned are you about that prospect?

ABDULLAH: We have to be concerned about our next intifada. If that happens, that's a complete breakdown of law and order and one that neither

the Israelis nor Palestinians would benefit from.

I think there's a lot of concern from all in the region, including those in Israel, that are on our side on this issue to make sure that doesn't

happen. So that is a flash or a tinderbox that if it flashes, it's something that I don't think we'll be able to walk away from in the near


ANDERSON: Benjamin Netanyahu is back in power. Commentators described that result as Jordan's worst nightmare.

Is it?

ABDULLAH: At the end of the day, the Israeli people have the right to pick whoever they want to lead them. And I think we're all big boys here. And

looking at the larger picture, we are all prepared to move on. So we will work with anybody and everybody as long as we can bring people together.

ANDERSON (voice-over): The new Israeli government will likely be the most right-wing in Israeli history, including incoming national security

adviser, Ben-Gvir. He has a long history of inciting violence against Arabs and Palestinians.

Pending new legislation, he could assume authority over the police force, including law enforcement at Jerusalem's holy sites.

ANDERSON: As custodian of those sites, do you believe the status quo and your role is threatened?

ABDULLAH: So you're always going to get those people that will try and push that. That is a concern. But I don't think those individuals are under

just a Jordanian microscope; they're under an international microscope.

So we have learned, as we always say, living between a rock and a hard place, you know, that this is just another Tuesday for us. If people want

to get into a conflict with us, we are quite prepared.

I always like to believe that we should look at the glass half full. But we have set red lines. If people want to push those red lines, we will deal

with that. But I have to believe there is a lot of people in Israel also that are concerned as much as we are.


ABDULLAH: As a Muslim leader, let me say clearly that we are committed to defending the rights, the precious heritage --


ABDULLAH: -- and the historic identity of the Christian people of our region.


ANDERSON: Can you just expand on Jordan's role in promoting stability?

ABDULLAH: Jordan has been a refuge to early Christians and to Jesus Christ himself, who came here escaping persecution. This is, I think, something

we've always inherited.

My great-great grandfather gave sanctuary to Armenian Christians that we're looking for safety and security. And recently, over the past few years, as

you have watched, the actions of daish in Syria and Iraq, looking after Iraqi Christians and Syrian Christians here.

If we don't have any Christians in the region, I think that's a disaster for all of us. They're part of our past, they're part of our present and

they must be part of our future.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): This spot (ph) is where Jesus Christ was baptized (INAUDIBLE).

ANDERSON (voice-over): They come from all over the world, every year, up to 200,000 pilgrims and tourists flock to this site where Jesus is believed

to have been baptized. Now a master plan has been launched to build a pilgrim village with a museum amphitheater and accommodation, which

according to the Baptism Site Commission, will allow it to cater for up to 1.5 million visitors a year.

Rustom Mkhjian is the director general of the Baptism Site Commission.

RUSTOM MKHJIAN, DIRECTOR GENERAL, BAPTISM SITE COMMISSION: And its basic aim is to build facilities such as accommodation, museums, whatever is

needed by pilgrims basically. And the main intention is to receive millions of pilgrims and provide better services to enjoy their visit to the site.

ANDERSON: You have plans to develop and protect this site or the site adjacent to where we are as we speak in line with your role toward holy

sites under the Hashemite custodianship. Talk to me about these plans.

ABDULLAH: This is the UNESCO heritage site and it needs to be protected. We want to make sure that this is preserved for centuries to come.

What will happen adjacent to it, is what is the support to this wonderful and historical magical place?

So you know, a museum to talk about the history of Christianity and to look at creating botanical gardens that grow the ancient flowers and herbs of

the region and plants; training centers that allow different churches to come in and teach. Something that we can all be proud of 100 years from


I think one of the things that people misunderstand about this place is how inclusive it is. Almost 15 percent of the visitors that come here are

Muslim, because we revere Jesus Christ as the Messiah and the Holy Mary as the holiest and most important of all women in our history.

And so, this is an opportunity to break down those barriers and to show how proud we are of not only our historical Christian heritage here in Jordan

but the relationship between Christianity and Islam.

ANDERSON: How important is this site to Jordan?

ABDULLAH: From a historical religious point of view, this is Christianity's third holiest site. So of extreme importance to Jordan. And

because of the history tells of not only one of the first refugees being Jesus, may peace be upon him, you know, the waves of refugees that at least

in my time we have seen.

I think it started here and it's a story that tells the story of Jordan throughout the ages.


ANDERSON (voice-over): For decades, Jordan has been a safe haven for Christians and Muslims alike, representing a model of coexistence amid, for

the better part of history, a turbulent region. Nowhere is that more evident than downtown Amman during Christmas celebrations.

ANDERSON: Your Majesty, this project is one that will begin, one hopes, in 2023.

What are your hopes?

Let's close this on a positive note.

What are your hopes and aspirations for 2023?

ABDULLAH: At the end of the day, people just want to move on with their lives and feel an opportunity. So it's hard to rewrite the narrative. So as

challenging as 2022 was, as difficult as the dangers of 2023 are, there is an opportunity for us to move on. I have gotten away from the feeling that

politics are not going to solve our problems.


ABDULLAH: It's economic independence. So these are issues we have to deal with Israelis, Palestinians, Jordanians. And I believe regional

integration, that is going to be the secret of us breaking down barriers.

When I'm invested in your success, because your success and my success, at the end of the day, means that we can move forward, whatever people think

about integration of Israel into the region, which is extremely important, that's not going to happen unless there's a future for the Palestinians.

And you've seen that recently through the Moroccan football team. And that's just that sort of a slight insight that, at the end of the day,

whatever the leaders do, if we cannot solve this problem, the street are naturally going to be sympathetic to the Palestinian cause. So we need to

build as opposed to destroy.

ANDERSON: Thank you very much, thank you.

ABDULLAH: Thank you.

ANDERSON: Wonderful, thank you very much.





ANDERSON: I'm Becky Anderson in Abu Dhabi for you. You are watching CONNECT THE WORLD. And you are very welcome, wherever you are watching in

the world.

More on our top story this hour, we are keeping an eye on the Ukrainian city of Kherson. It was just liberated last month, of course. But Ukraine's

military says that Russia has launched dozens of artillery strikes on civilian targets there, including on a hospital.

In the meantime, in a high security Russian prison, Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny says he's being injected with what he calls an unknown drug. He's

been treating, saying medical information is withheld from him.

CNN's Fred Pleitgen has been covering the Kremlin's invasion since even before it again and not just from Ukraine. He's also reported from inside

Russia and Belarus. As the conflict nears its second calendar year, he looks back at his experiences. A warning to our viewers: this report, I'm

afraid, does contain some disturbing images.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We had a rare opportunity to get into Belarus and this was a few days before the invasion

for joint exercises between the Russian military and the Belarusian military. And we were filming this, we were filming the exercise.

There was a lot of tanks, there were a lot of helicopters in this exercise. And then all of a sudden Lukashenko showed up, the Belarusian strongman and

I immediately confronted him.

The United States has said that there would be severe consequences for Belarus if an attack on Ukraine were launched from Belarusian territory by

yourself or the Russian army.


PLEITGEN: Do you still support Russia in its course towards Ukraine?

ALEXANDER LUKASHENKO, BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Do you still believe we're going to attack Ukraine from here or have you already

overcome this mental block?

PLEITGEN: He kept ranting at me and at some point he just went away and went into his helicopter and flew off.

A few days later, the invasion then did begin. One of the things that really stood out to me was that were doing a live shot on our morning show.

While I was doing that live shot, the Russians launched multiple rocket launching systems towards Ukraine.

And you could see them in our live shot. You could hear them, obviously, in our live shot as well.

There's more rockets that's being fired right now. If we look in the sky, we can see it there.

If we pan up, there's another Salvo being fired right now. So you can see in this area the Russians firing artillery rockets towards Ukraine. At the

same time, we've also seen them move in heavy, heavy armor through the road that I just pointed to before. We saw Howitzers going down that road just a

couple of minutes ago.

That was where you could really see that the war had started in full force. We have to keep in mind that this is really the time that full on war has

come back to Europe, which is quite a scary thing but again, also, of course, a very important thing to document as well.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): As Russian forces retreat from the area north of Kyiv in their wake, scenes of utter destruction, whole blocks of houses

flattened. Ukrainian authorities saying they believe dead bodies are still lying underneath. But here, the dead also lay in the open.

Ukrainian national police showed us this mass grave in Bucha, saying they believed up to 150 civilians might be buried here but no one knows the

exact number. People killed while the Russian army occupied this town.

PLEITGEN: We were going around Bucha and obviously, we found the mass grave to be an awful site but it really hadn't dawned on me how important

all of this was going to be. And so we were driving around the area, there was no cell phone connection, so we couldn't really communicate with our

guys at headquarters.

And then we got back into the cell phone connection area and I got an email that said, there are reports of a mass grave in Bucha. And I wrote facts.

We just came back from that mass grave and, with that, it just became this gigantic international story.

And then the next couple of days, we went back to Bucha pretty much every day and into the surrounding areas as well. And it was really much worse

than almost anything I've ever seen. Everywhere went, there were dead bodies. There's not many things, I think, in the world that have truly

moved me and shaken me.

I do remember that a couple of weeks later, after I got back home and I was talking about what had happened in Bucha, it was something that definitely

I did feel very emotional at that point, just remembering the things that we saw and the things that we witnessed.

It was definitely devastating to have witnessed all that but at the same time, of course, very important to shine the light on it and to document

all of that for the wider public.

And another thing that really stood out in the reporting was also the way that the Russians dealt with their own troops. We also got the chance to go

to Chernobyl. We were the first team to go to Chernobyl.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): The Russians imprisoned the security staff inside the plant's own bomb shelter. The interior minister told us no natural

light, no fresh air, no communications.

PLEITGEN: So the Russians kept 169 Ukrainians prisoner here the entire time they held this place. And then when the Russians left, they looted and

ransacked the place.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): And we went to the edge of the red forest and we obviously didn't go into the actual contaminated area but we went to the

edge of the Red Forest and we found a Russian meal ration there, one of those military meal rations.

And we held the meter to it and it maxed out. The meter itself maxed out. And it showed that the Russian forces that were there must have faced

radioactive contamination simply because their superiors were so negligent or just didn't care about the safety of their own troops. That was

definitely something that also stood out.

And then also, of course, the utter destruction. The scale of the destruction that we saw around the Kyiv area and all the way up to the

north to the Belarusian border was insane. I mean, it was just -- there were some pretty tough battles that have been fought there.

Just to give you an idea about the scale of the destruction, you have houses like these that were completely destroyed.


PLEITGEN: But if we look over here, you can see that even large residential buildings have been flattened. This entire building was

flattened. It was connected with this one before but now there's absolutely nothing left of it.

Covering this story has been extremely dangerous. It's been extremely important to be in a lot of these places and I think in many ways, it's

been life changing for a lot of the reporters who were there.

So we're taking cover here because we just had some incoming artillery fire. We're going to wait and hope that there's not any hits anywhere close

to us.

I think 2022 will be remembered as being the year that full on war has come back to Europe, something that many people thought would be impossible

after the horrors of World War II. But unfortunately, it turns out that there are still some who believe that war is the answer.


ANDERSON: That was Fred Pleitgen, taking a look back at the year that was for Ukraine and the Russian war on that country.

Well, migrants looking for an American home will have to wait, after the U.S. Supreme Court kept the restrictive policy known as Title 42 in place,

at least for now. The Trump era policy put in effect during the early days of the pandemic allows border agents to expel migrants to their home

countries in the name of COVID prevention.

The Supreme Court blocked a lower court's opinion, ordering and end to Title 42, keeping it in place while legal challenges now play out. Within

El Paso and Texas, officials have been preparing for a surge of migrants. CNN's Leyla Santiago joins us from El Paso, where thousands are waiting in


That city must be preparing or certainly has been preparing for a surge of migrants. Now this border program to expel migrants remains in place.

What is the impact there?

What does this mean for those who are effectively stuck in limbo at this point?

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, so, let's start with the migrants, Becky. You know, I just spoke to a family of about six people,

who traveled from Venezuela. They said this means there's a lot of uncertainty for a future, given that Title 42 remains in place.

I just want to show you where I am, kind of walking you through it. There is a long line of folks that are coming in to get breakfast this morning

because they have been out on the street for quite some time. They really don't have anything.

And when I say they've been out here, we are talking about older men, younger men, children. You will see toddlers and babies wrapped up in Red

Cross blankets with really not much else.

And when you talk to them about Title 42, many of them are very aware of that number, that number 42. To them, that has been quite a barrier.

And they are seeking clarity on exactly what this will mean moving forward for many of the families that are just looking to flee violence and

economic crisis in Venezuela, as well as have a better future for these children.

Now let's talk about the city of El Paso. The mayor has said that, in recent days, they've had about 2,500 migrants coming each day.

And even though this policy remains in place, they are preparing for a surge in migrants because on the other side of the border, there are more

than 20,000 migrants between Matamoros, Juarez, as well as in Reynosa, waiting to come in, waiting to have their chance.

Many of these migrants will also tell you that they tried to come in legally. But because of Title 42, they have too many challenges. So they

just found another way. But for El Paso now, they are actually even looking at taking two vacant schools to turn them into a shelter in preparation for

what is to come.

I had a conversation with one mother. She's a mother from Venezuela, traveling with two children, including a toddler, fleeing the poverty and

violence of Venezuela. I was the one who told her about the Supreme Court decision here. Listen to her reaction.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking foreign language).

SANTIAGO: She said she wanted to come in legally but, because of Title 42, she feels that she can't.

She says it feels bad. They were hoping for something else, a different decision.


SANTIAGO: And so, another big issue here is simply misinformation, rumors; again, seeking clarity on exactly what this means.


SANTIAGO: Because a lot of folks are confused as to what will happen next year. The shelters, they have shelters run by the city, those are for

people who have already been processed through immigration. So a lot of these folks haven't been processed in fear of going anywhere, for fear of

where they may end up, if they will be deported -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Thank you, Leyla.

Still ahead, more frustration for hundreds of thousands of stranded Southwest Airlines passengers in the United States. They are talking to CNN

about what the U.S. Transportation Secretary calls a "complete meltdown," more on that after this.




ANDERSON: Well, it's another day of long lines, frustrating waits and, for hundreds of thousands of Southwest Airlines passengers, no planes to board.

The travel chaos sparked by last week's bomb cyclone storm is still being felt, I'm afraid.

Southwest canceling thousands more flights on Wednesday and on Thursday. This sign at the Denver airport sums up passengers' frustrations. The U.S.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg called it a "complete meltdown." He is vowing to hold Southwest accountable.

Adrienne Broaddus is connecting us from Chicago's Midway Airport.

We know the Southwest CEO is apologizing, promising that things will improve. You've been speaking to passengers who must be so frustrated by


Are they buying that apology?

ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Becky, one guy said, they can keep the apologies. This is -- let me backtrack. He said they can keep the

apologies. I cannot use all of the colorful language that he used when sharing his frustration.

But he did say passengers would've been more understanding if officials from Southwest had been transparent and honest up front. He was saying --

and many of the passengers we have heard from -- Southwest blaming the weather for all of these problems.

But the passengers are not dumb people. They are brilliant, smart, most of them. They say, if it was just a weather issue, we would've seen this

massive problem at other airlines.

So how are passengers handling it?

Some are handling it with grace; others are angry. We're talking about loyal Southwest customers.

Meanwhile, relief could be days away. Behind me you see all of the bags. This is just one element of the story. These are bags, most of them, that

were passing through Southwest.


BROADDUS: Their destination, another location. Throughout the day yesterday, we saw people searching for their bags. We even met up with one

woman, who found her bags after waiting in line for two hours.


BROADDUS: You found your bag?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They let me go in there and find it myself. It took me up on there and I found them, girl.

BROADDUS: Where was it?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They just out everywhere. They all -- I had to walk. And I said, Lord, I know they are here. And I got all four bags.


BROADDUS: Four bags. That was Lauren Crooks (ph). She was initially stuck in Las Vegas. Right now you likely see these crews working. You have

Southwest employees working as well as ramp agents, who have come up to the baggage claim area. They are organizing all of the bags here by city.

We are told that these bags will be put back into the system and eventually make it to their original final destination. But this is a sight that folks

don't want to see: cancellations. Southwest already canceling nearly 3,000 flights today alone. Becky, that is more than 60 percent of its entire

force -- back to you.

ANDERSON: We need to hear more from that company and I'm sure we will. Thank you.

Djokovic, Federer, the Beijing Olympics and the World Cup, find out what is on our list of the top sports stories of the year next, when we return with

CONNECT THE WORLD, live from Abu Dhabi. I'm Becky Anderson, stay with us.




ANDERSON: Tennis star Novak Djokovic back in Australia almost a year after he was deported for not being vaccinated against COVID-19.

The Serbian world number five is getting ready for a tournament next week in Adelaide as well as next month's Australian Open. Djokovic was allowed

back into the country after the government there recently overturned the decision to cancel his visa.

That was at the beginning of 2022, that saga with Djokovic in Australia. It has been a dazzling year for sports highlights, from what could be Serena

Williams' final tournament to Lionel Messi's magic moment or moments at the World Cup. CNN's Andy Scholes counts down the top 10 of 2022.


ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: In 2022, we saw records fall, an epic World Cup and many sports legends say goodbye. But the story garnering the

most attention was one star athlete's battle for her freedom.

Number 10, Aaron Judge homering his way to a historic season. The Yankee slugger becoming the American League all-time home run king, hitting 62

long balls, breaking Roger Maris'' record.

AARON JUDGE, BASEBALL OUTFIELDER: Getting a chance to have my name next to, you know, someone as great as Roger Maris, Babe Ruth, those guys is


SCHOLES: Before the season, Judge, bet on himself, turning down a contract extension.


SCHOLES: In December, the gamble paid off as he received the richest deal ever, a reported nine-year, $360 million to return to New York.

And Judge's Yankees were swept by the Houston Astros in the ALCS. The Astros went on to win their second World Series title in six years.

Number nine, Steph Curry and the warriors also becoming champions once again. Steph with an all time performance in game four of the finals

against the Celtics, scoring 43 points in Boston. The warriors would take the series four games to two, with Steph winning his first ever NBA Finals


STEPHEN CURRY, AMERICAN PROFESSIONAL BASKETBALL PLAYER: Every so once in a while, you got to remind yourself.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You got to remind yourself.

CURRY: We got four.

SCHOLES: In the WNBA, the Las Vegas Aces claimed their first championship in franchise history, beating the Connecticut Sun in four games, crowning

coach Becky Hammond as the first rookie coach to win the WNBA title.

Number eight, the NFL playoffs in 2022 was one of the best we've ever seen. Patrick Mahomes, with just 13 seconds on the clock, got the Chiefs in

position to tie the Bills, who they would eventually beat in an overtime thriller, 42 to 36. The Chiefs, though upset by the Bengals, who made it to

the Super Bowl for the first time since 1989. And Super Bowl 56 was another home game for the NFC champions.

The Rams, playing at SoFi Stadium, made a comeback, led by Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp to beat Cincinnati 23 to 20, giving the city of Los Angeles

their first Super Bowl title since 1984.

The city of L.A. would get to celebrate another title in November, as LAFC won the MLS Cup in dramatic fashion in just their fifth season. Actor and

part owner Will Ferrell, enjoying the team's first title.

WILL FERRELL, ACTOR: Greatest game in MLS history. And if you don't agree with me, I will fight you in the parking lot right now.

SCHOLES: Number seven, despite COVID concerns and lockdowns in China, the Beijing Olympics were held in February, figure skating under the spotlight

once again after it was discovered that 15-year-old Russian skating phenom, Kamila Valieva, tested positive for a banned substance before the game.

Valieva helped the Russians win gold in the team event but no medal ceremony was held. Nathan Chen, meanwhile, shining for Team USA, winning

the men's gold.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tonight, Novak Djokovic, the world's top ranked men's tennis player, has been ordered to leave Australia.

SCOTT MORRISON, PRIME MINITER OF AUSTRALIA: If you're not double vaccinated and you're not an Australian resident or citizen, well, you

can't come.

SCHOLES: Djokovic, who said he'd rather miss tournaments than get vaccinated against COVID, only competed in two Grand Slams in 2022, winning

Wimbledon for his 21st Grand Slam title.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: In our sports lead, an historic agreement for U.S. Soccer and equal pay, the men's and women's U.S. national teams will

both now receive equal pay and equal prize money, including at World Cups.

SCHOLES: With the U.S. men's team reaching the knockout phase in Qatar, the U.S. women's team received more money in 2022 than it did in its

previous two World Cups combined, netting $6.5 million.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There was a lot of behind the scenes work for years now to get to where we are.

SCHOLES: Number four, less than 15 months after his severe car crash that required multiple surgeries on his right leg, Tiger Woods was back at the

Masters with a huge gallery following him.

Tiger coming through with what he called the most impressive performance of his career making the cut, he finished 47th, which would be his best finish

at a major in 2022. Tiger only competed in three events this year but he did fight for the PGA Tour off the course.

The new Saudi backed live golf poaching notable PGA Tour players Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau with the lure of massive

multimillion dollar contracts in their first year.

TIGER WOODS, AMERICAN PROFESSIONAL GOLFER: To play there, I disagree with it. They've turned their back on what has allowed them to get to this


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My dad said to me a long time ago, once you make your bed, you lie in it. And they've made their bed.

SCHOLES: Number three, 2022 was a banner year for sports stars retiring and unretiring.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Tom Brady, as seen by so many as the greatest NFL quarterback of all time, is retiring after 22 seasons.

SCHOLES: Well, less than two months later, Brady changed his mind.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Breaking news right now just in to CNN, a surprise word from the NFL that the goat is coming back. Tom Brady could only step

away from the NFL for a 1.5 months before announcing his return.

SCHOLES: While Brady did come back, other sports legends did ride off into the sunset. Coach Mike Krzyzewski retiring from Duke as the winningest

men's coach in college basketball history after 42 seasons but not before one more final four run.

MIKE KRZYZEWSKI, AMERICAN BASKETBALL COACH: I want to be in this moment. This team has given me so much joy.

SCHOLES: And in tennis, after battling injuries the past few years, 20 time Grand Slam winner Roger Federer decided to call it a career.


ROGER FEDERER, SWISS TENNIS PLAYER: I love tennis, everything about it. I will miss the competition. The fans cheering for or against me, they

usually been with me all the way, so it's been great.

SCHOLES: Serena Williams, meanwhile, declared that she was going to be evolving away from tennis, leading to one of the most anticipated U.S.

Opens ever. The 23-time Grand Slam winner wowing the crowd one more time, advancing to the third round before saying goodbye.

SERENA WILLIAMS, AMERICAN TENNIS PLAYER: Honestly, I'm so grateful that I had this moment and that I'm straight.

SCHOLES: Number two, the first ever winter World Cup in Qatar, ending in what is being called the greatest sporting event in history. Arguably the

best ever, Argentina's Leonel Messi going head to head against the game's brightest young star in France's Kylian Mbappe.

After more than 120 minutes of thrilling back and forth action, the final went to penalty kicks tied at three in his fifth and last World Cup, Messi

finally getting the one trophy that has eluded him for so long, winning it all for Argentina.

At number one:

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN breaking news.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So this is the breaking news right now, we're getting news that Brittney Griner is free.

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Homeward bound, the WNBA superstar Brittney Griner out of a Russian penal colony heading for American soil.

SCHOLES: Griner was arrested for possession of cannabis oil at a Moscow area airport in February and sentenced to nine years in prison. Athletes

across sports advocated for months, encouraging the Biden administration to find a way to bring Griner home. And two weeks before Christmas, it


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: She's safe. She's on her way home. After months of being unjustly detained in Russia, held under

intolerable circumstances, Brittney will soon be back in the arms of her loved ones. And she should have been there all along.


ANDERSON: Andy's look at the top 20 in 2022.

Finally, we are looking at pictures of the latest SpaceX launch in Cape Canaveral in Florida. Today's Falcon 9 rocket launch took 54 Starlink

satellites into Earth's lower orbit. The satellites will expand the company's ability to provide internet to places where ground-based internet

is just not available.

You are watching CONNECT THE WORLD. News continues after the break. Return to our show, of course. I'm Becky Anderson. Do stay with us.