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Gazans Find Little Safety Amidst Israel Airstrikes; Analysis Finds IDF Struck Supposed Three Safe Locations for Civilians; Czech Republic Reels from Deadliest Mass Shooting in Decades; Thousands Protest New President's Economic Plan; American Paul Whelan Concerned for His Safety in Prison Camp; Texas National Guard Denis Ignoring a Migrant's Call for Help; Growing Calls for Ceasefire as Humanitarian Crisis Worsens in Gaza; Harvard President Hit by Plagiarism Claims; Iceland's Coast Guard Flies Over Eruption Zone. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired December 22, 2023 - 10:00   ET



ZAIN ASHER, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: All right. It is 10:00 in the morning where I am here in New York. I'm Zain Asher, and this is CONNECT THE WORLD.

This hour, the U.N. Security Council is finally expected to vote on a resolution on Gaza and the U.S. does appear at this point in time to be

ready to support it. That resolution calls for an increase in desperately needed humanitarian aid.

And the normally quiet city of Prague is waking up in mourning today after a deadly and rare shooting that left 14 people dead. We'll have new details

for you from the police just ahead.

And with so many humanitarian crises around the world, we're going to be speaking with the International Rescue Committee about the challenging year

ahead for the world's refugees.

All right, welcome, everybody.

The U.N. Security Council is set to convene the next hour or so for a likely vote on a Gaza resolution. There have been so many delays to this

after concern over the language. The resolution is calling for a halt to the fighting in Gaza ended increase in desperately needed humanitarian aid.

A source familiar with the text is telling CNN that the language in this resolution has been softened quite a bit.

It has been changed quite a bit in order to win approval from the U.S. who has previously vetoed earlier drafts. Any new pause in fighting certainly

cannot come soon enough for the besieged people of Gaza. New CNN analysis finds that the IDF actually gave Gaza residents imprecise and oftentimes

contradictory messages about where they should flee in order to be safe from bombardment and that the Israeli military struck at least three

locations this month where it had told people to seek shelter.

There's also a troubling report out today by a U.N. group that monitors food security. It says the entire population of Gaza is hungry and that

there is an increasing risk right now of famine with virtually all households across the enclave skipping meals for sometimes days at a time.

And the Hamas-controlled Health Ministry says that the death toll right now in Gaza has reached about 20,000, with many of those killed being women and

children, and that Gaza's overwhelmed hospitals and morgues simply cannot keep up with the crush of victims.

Nima Elbagir has more on that and I do want to warn you that some of the images you're about to see in her report are indeed very disturbing.


NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Airstrike after airstrike, after airstrike. In the daily bombardment,

Gazans rarely find a reprieve. When the smoke clears, it's back to the daily routine. Searching the rubble, hoping for miracles, hoping to find

survivors. A journey that leads many to the overflowing morgues.

At the European Hospital in southern Gaza, there is no relief in identifying the dead. Roughly 20,000 people killed in Gaza after 11 weeks

of Israeli bombardments. According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Ramallah, a number of CNN can't verify, but U.N. officials say they found

the ministry's figures from past conflicts to be accurate.

A grim landmark, with every lost life, the pain is inconsolable.

RIDAAN ABU MA'MAR, GAZA RESIDENT (through translator): There is nowhere safe in the whole of the Gaza Strip. My whole family is gone. We are only

four people left out of a family of eight.

ELBAGIR: In southern Gaza, the bombs don't stop, nor does the flow of the injured to overwhelmed hospitals. Disrupting the rare moments of respite

where children can play.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I was at my aunt's house and we were playing. We saw a big and fast airplane flying over and suddenly it

bombed our place, and stones fell on me and then people removed me from the rubble.

ELBAGIR: Israel's ground offensive continues across Gaza. Despite the U.S. raising concerns about civilian casualties, it continues to back Israel's

war. The U.N. warns of a toxic mix of disease, hunger, and lack of hygiene and sanitation. Outbreaks of infectious disease add to the impossible task

of survival.


. Most of the 2.2 million population is displaced and struggling to find food and clean water. The World Health Organization says there are no

functioning hospitals left in northern Gaza. The once sprawling Al-Ahli Hospital complex is barely providing relief.

SEAN CASEY, WHO EMERGENCY MEDICAL TEAM: What we found here is a hospital that's really almost completely stopped functioning. Two days ago, a number

of staff were detained.

ELBAGIR: Instead of preparing for Christmas, this church has become a hospital ward.

CASEY: But they're not able to perform surgery. They're able to only provide pain management, some wound care, some trauma stabilization.

They're doing their best with the very small team of only about 10 clinical stuff left at this hospital.

ELBAGIR: Hours after posting this video of the first aid center at the battered Jabalya camp, the Palestinian Red Crescent said the center was

raided. And communication was cut off. And yet, the dead and dying just keep coming.

Nima Elbagir, CNN, London.


ASHER: All right. A border official in Gaza says the Palestinian director of the Gaza side of the Kerem Shalom crossing was killed in an Israeli

drone strike along with three other people as well. In terms of what Israel is saying about this, their military says that the target armed Hamas

militants that they believed were approaching the crossing. The crossing between Gaza and Israel recently reopened to allow aid into Gaza.

CNN's Jeremy Diamond visited the Kerem Shalom crossing. He joins us live now from Tel Aviv.

Jeremy, before we get to that, I do want to talk about this CNN analysis that found that Israel had indeed struck areas where they had previously

told civilians to go to in Gaza, where they had told civilians that they indeed would be safe. Just explain to us what Israel is saying about this

because of course this only exacerbates the level of mistrust on both sides.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well, throughout this war of course we have heard a lot of anecdotal evidence of Israel attacking

locations where they had told residents that they would be safer, areas that they had told people to evacuate to. But our CNN team actually went

and examined the specific evacuation order that the Israeli military gave to Palestinian civilians living in the Khan Younis -- city of Khan Younis

in southern Gaza on December 1st, and in the three days after that evacuation order, CNN was actually able to confirm through photos and

videos posted online, satellite imagery, and local news reports, that three locations were actually struck in the area where they were told to evacuate


And that is the city of Rafah. In the three days after that order, there was a strike on the El-Geneina neighborhood on December 3rd in which at

least 17 people were killed. Later that night, an airstrike in another neighborhood of Rafah killed 18 people. And then on December 4th, an

airstrike hit a public water tower also in the city of Rafah. And that's despite the fact that the Israeli military had directed residents to

evacuate to that very same city.

Now in response to this, the Israeli military says that it struck these areas after intelligence indicated that these places were safe houses for

Hamas commanders, effectively going on to say that they will continue to strike at Hamas targets wherever they are. And that is ultimately the key

problem with these evacuation orders is that even as the Israeli military focuses on these evacuation orders as a way that they say they are trying

to minimize civilian casualties, they are also saying in the same breath that they will continue to target Hamas anywhere they are including in

those safe evacuation areas.

And so obviously the result of that, we have seen in these three incidents in particular, but many more which we have not yet fully confirmed, is that

civilians are dying as a result.

ASHER: And Jeremy, I just want to turn to the U.N. because in about an hour or so from now it is likely that the U.N. Security Council is going to be

voting on a resolution on Gaza. Obviously the language has been softened. There's just been a lot of negotiation and back and forth to make it much

more palatable for the U.S. in terms of getting the U.S. to support it. I know that there was some concern as to whether or not Israel would be

allowed to inspect aid as it entered Gaza. What is the latest on that? And what is likely Israel's reaction to this resolution?

DIAMOND: Yes. The United Arab Emirates and Egypt have been pushing to establish a kind of U.N. monitoring mechanism to put the U.N. in charge of

inspecting these aid shipments going into Gaza and coordinating their shipments. But of course Israel wants to be in charge of the security

coordination. And so for the United States and Israel, that was kind of a nonstarter. And the U.S. was concerned that if this was put into place it

would actually slow rather than accelerate the delivery of much needed aid into the Gaza Strip.

And so that language has been removed. There is an effort to create some kind of coordinating position, but not to actually handle the monitoring.


There's also been a lot of softening of the language around a cessation of hostilities. Now this resolution which the U.S. is expected to support is

instead going to be calling for, quote, "urgent steps" to lay the groundwork for a, quote, "sustainable cessation of hostilities." So much,

much watered-down language there.

But there is an effort to increase the flow of aid. I was at the Kerem Shalom crossing earlier today. This is the first week that Israel has

actually began to allow the use of that crossing, not just for inspections of the aid but to actually allow these aid trucks to go directly from

Israel into Gaza. And we witnessed, as dozens of trucks coming from Egypt were arriving at this Kerem Shalom crossing being inspected by Israeli

forces before they go into Gaza.

But there is such a disconnect still when you speak with Israeli officials about the kind of humanitarian need that exist in Gaza. Colonel Moshe Petro

is the Israeli military official in charge of coordinating these aid shipments into Gaza. And today with a straight face he told me that there

is no food shortage in Gaza. That is completely at odds with everything that all of these United Nations and humanitarian agencies are telling us

in terms of what is happening on the ground.

Just yesterday the U.N. Food Program estimated that about half of Gaza's population is suffering from severe or extreme hunger. And that is not to

speak of all of the other people who are perhaps not experiencing severe hunger but having to skip meals every day. And so that just kind of speaks

to the disconnect that exists there. But nonetheless, it appears that more aid is starting to make its way in. But of course not enough yet to meet

that enormous need in Gaza.

ASHER: All right, Jeremy Diamond, live for us there. Thank you so much.

OK, and if you want more information, just in terms of the very latest about what's happening with this war between Israel and Gaza, we encourage

you to go to our Web site. There you will find brand-new CNN analysis that shows that in the first month of the war, Israel's military dropped

hundreds of massive bombs on Gaza, at a level that one analyst says has not been seen since the Vietnam War.

Weapons experts blame these heavy bombs for the huge death toll which is right now approaching or has topped, rather, 20,000. You can find all of

that and more on

All right. We are getting a look at those terrifying moments that police in the Czech capital roamed the halls of Charles University searching for a

killer. This body cam footage shows officers going through the school, looking for the student who shot and killed 14 staff and fellow students,

and then also wounded, by the way, 25 others. Police now confirmed the gunman is dead. He shot himself, he died by suicide.

His father was also found dead and now the police are linking the shooter to a double murder in Prague just last week. The attack sent students

running for their lives.

Melissa Bell joins us live now with more.

So the attacker, Melissa, the shooter here was a 24-year-old student. He was a philosophy student. What more do we know about the motive here,


MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS CORRESPONDENT: The police aren't saying or haven't gone to the bottom of it yet. They're not disclosing it. They are not

saying why he went on the rampage. They simply gave more details of exactly what happened. They are also being very careful, Zain, about his identity.

Really urging people not to speculate saying that they don't want to give him posthumously the benefit of the oxygen of publicity. They want to

prevent also anyone else from being encouraged to go on the rampage.

This is young philosophy student did at what was his university campus. We've also been hearing from police that given the amount of weaponry and

ammunition he had with him, it's actually really remarkable and simply down to the police response and how swift it was that a far worse massacre did

not take place.


BELL (voice-over): Terror on the streets of Prague. Students risking their lives to escape a gunman's bullets that killed more than a dozen on

Thursday afternoon. More than 20 were injured, 10 severely, in the shooting at Prague's Charles University before the gunman, an enrolled philosophy

student, was eliminated, police said. It's an attack that has rocked the Czech Republic.

PETR FIALA, CZECH PRIME MINISTER (through translator): There is absolutely no explanation, no justification for this. Like many of you, I am feeling a

deep sorrow and disgust over this incomprehensible and brutal violence.

BELL (voice-over): As night fell on Prague, details emerged about the 24- year-old suspect. Before the deadly shooting in the capital, police said the shooter left his home village where his father was found dead. Intent

on further bloodshed, he made his way to the Czech capital.


Tipped off, police forces rushed to evacuate the building where the shooter was due to attend a lecture, but he struck elsewhere. Forcing students to

barricade themselves inside classrooms, later evacuated en masse. Their preparation for end-of-year exams brutally shattered by the country's

deadliest shooting in decades. No indication of a link to international terrorism, the Czech interior minister confirmed, a city in shock on a

continent where mass shootings are few and far between.


BELL (on-camera): In fact, Zain, this was the first school or college shooting in the Czech Republic's history. And yet police say that they were

well-prepared. They've been carrying out drills, watching ever since 2011 and the killing in Norway by a far-right extremists of 77 young people,

you'll remember. That had led them to prepare for this kind of thing. And that, they say, is why they were able to bring this young man's gruesome

killing spree to a swifter end than they might have -- Zain.

ASHER: And Melissa, Czech police are saying that this gunman acted alone. But are they taking precautions when it comes to bolstering security in and

around the rest of Prague?

BELL: They are. They've said that they are beefing up security at schools which has been described as soft targets trying to make sure that that is

beefed up. We've also been hearing from the Interior Ministry saying, look, the country's gun laws were already in the process of being tightened.

Whether or not that would've prevented this particular young man from acting isn't clear.

After all, I think it's important to remember that he had no criminal record. And the firearms he was holding he had legal access to. He had the

permit that he needed, Zain. We've also been hearing that he was, apparently as a result of the raids on his home where they found his

deceased father, they have found evidence suggesting to the Czech Police linking him to a double homicide that had remained unresolved on the

outskirts of Prague last week.

A man and his young child, described as a baby by Czech Police, were found dead in a forest near the Czech capital. They had had no leads until now.

They now believe that this young man, despite his lack of a criminal record, may have been involved in that as well -- Zain.

ASHER: Melissa Bell, live for us there, thank you so much.

All right, still to come here on CONNECT THE WORLD, Argentina's new leader is already facing a public outcry as thousands take to the streets against

his plan to reshape the economy. And one of Vladimir Putin's best-known critics is still nowhere to be seen. We'll have the latest as Alexei

Navalny's team raises the alarm.


ASHER: All right. Protesters in Argentina have been expressing their concern over the president's sweeping initiatives to reshape the economy.


Javier Milei signed a decree to dismantle regulations that he says hinder growth. His government is changing more than 300 rules to reignite economic


David Shortell has more.


DAVID SHORTELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And thousands taking to the streets in Buenos Aires in protest of this economic reform plan that was announced by

Milei on Wednesday evening. He calls it an economic plan to rebuild the country after decades of poor policy and poverty. The main idea of this

plan is to essentially take the government out of economy.

Argentina has of course had a very poor economy in recent years. It's contending with one of the highest rates of inflation in the world.

Let me walk you through a few of these policies that he outlined in this Wednesday emergency session. He says he's going to privatize the country's

state-run companies, which include a national airline and some energy groups. He's also planning to eliminate export limits and deregulate around

the country's rental housing market. And importantly he said that he'll rollback some employee benefits.

Now that's certain to be a flash point in Argentina, where poverty rates are very high and there are some powerful unions. But none of this should

come as a surprise. Javier Milei is a libertarian economist himself. He ran for president at campaign rallies literally holding a chainsaw in his hand

in a not-so-subtle reference to what he planned to do to government spending in office.

And then just a few days ago in his inaugural speech, he outlined his vision, calling it, basically, shock therapy for the country. He said, it's

going to hurt but it will work in the long run. Take a listen to Milei on the radio Thursday morning explaining a bit more of his rationale around

these new policies.

PRES. JAVIER MILEI, ARGENTINA (through translator): People benefit from lower inflation. They will benefit with the economy recovering. They will

find a better job, a better quality of life. What's the alternative? I do nothing and we go into hyperinflation? And profits will not drop 10

percent, 20 percent, but will drop 90 percent.

SHORTELL: And markets largely reacting positively in Argentina, following the news of this announcement, this new economic plan. Of course markets

measure one thing. The mood on the street is quite different. Thousands in the street protesting in Buenos Aires, banging on pots and pans in typical

Argentinean fashion, saying that they want these austerity measures rolled back. More protests are planned in the coming days.

David Shortell, CNN, Mexico City.


ASHER: All right. Let's get you up to speed on some of the stories that are on our radar right now.

"Fast and Furious" film star Vin Diesel is being accused of sexual battery. It stems from an alleged incident that happened back in 2010. The actor's

former assistant accuses him, his sister, and his company of sexual battery, creating a hostile work environment, negligence to provision, and

wrongful termination. Vin Diesel has not responded to those allegations.

And the U.S. FDA is sending out a warning about counterfeit Ozempic. Five people have gotten sick in connection with the type two diabetes drug. So

far none of those cases have been serious. Thousands of units have been seized.

And there's still no word on the whereabouts of Alexei Navalny, the jailed outspoken critic of Vladimir Putin. His lawyers say they've lost contact

with him in early December. Navalny's team said they were told that he left the penal colony where he was being held but the Kremlin is now refusing to

reveal any more information about him or his whereabouts.

Navalny's daughter is speaking out now about his disappearance. Dasha Navalnaya told CNN that she has not heard anything about where her father

could be.


DASHA NAVALNAYA, ALEXEY NAVALNY'S DAUGHTER: We haven't heard any new information for the past 16 days, which is very concerning. And we've been

-- we started a global campaign of where is Navalny? There's multiple cities around the world, in Russia and in New York as well. Today I

attended a rally in front of the Russian embassy with a group of people who are asking the same question, where is Alexei Navalny?

We don't know where he is. Our team, the Anti-Corruption Foundation team has appealed to the United Nations Human Rights court. And they granted our

appeal to ask the Russian government where he is. Officially governments around the world has asked where he is. And the Russian government is

refusing to say. Putin is just hiding my father from us.


ASHER: Alexei Navalny was serving 11 and a half years in prison on fraud and other charges when he was sentenced to 19 years in prison in August for

extremism charges which Navalny and his family called baseless.

All right, the Kremlin says it's not aware of the safety concerns voiced by U.S. citizen who has been wrongfully detained in Russia since 2018.


In a call with CNN this week Paul Whelan said that he's afraid for his safety after being assaulted by another inmate in a Russian prison camp

last month. The U.S. Marine Corps veteran is serving a 16-year sentence after he was accused of being a spy, which he vehemently denies.

CNN's Brian Todd has more.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): American Paul Whelan, wrongfully detained in Russia for five years, now faces new dangers in a

Russian prison camp. Whelan tells CNN he's being targeted by an official at the remote camp in the Mordovia region where he's being held. Whelan says

the official is retaliating against him because the official was admonished following an assault on Whelan by another inmate on November 28th.

We spoke to Whelan's sister about his latest account.

ELIZABETH WHELAN, PAUL WHELAN'S SISTER: I am concerned and horrified but not surprised to hear of these latest issues he's having. Mordovia is very

isolated. I'm sure that the prison guards are used to being able to get away with an awful lot without anybody paying any attention to them


TODD (voice-over): According to Whelan, the prison official, who he did not name, called on prisoners to instigate fights with Whelan so that Whelan

himself would be disciplined. He says prisoners, on the official's behalf, asked him for $1100 in protection money. The exact amount that's in

Whelan's prison account, quote, "Prisoners would not have known that unless they had been told."

Then he said of the prison official, quote, "Having no luck with obtaining the money, he ordered me to move to a different barrack, which would expose

me to criminal behavior as well as the potential of assault."

The White House calls Whelan's latest accounts troubling and says it will address this with Russian officials.


Russians rebuffed it, regardless of what Mr. Putin says. And we're working hard to see what we can do to get another proposal that might be more

successful to get both him and Evan out.

TODD (voice-over): John Kirby's referring to "Wall Street Journal" reporter Evan Gershkovich, who's also wrongfully detained in Russia. Paul Whelan

gave CNN even more chilling details of the dangers he now faces from other inmates. Quote, "Most people carry knives here and many use stimulants

which can make them wild and violent."

SARAH MENDELSON, FORMER U.S. HUMAN RIGHTS OFFICIAL AT THE UNITED NATIONS: The conditions, like all Russian prisons, are very bad, right? So the

prison guards are controlling access to the bathroom, food, light, day, your mobility. And you know, this fact of corruption is particularly


TODD (voice-over): I asked Whelan's sister if he carries any kind of a weapon to protect himself.

WHELAN: Paul has gone out of his way to make sure that there's nothing that can be done or said about him that would cause him to incur additional

charges because that's what the Russians will do, they will add charges onto your sentence.

TODD (voice-over): Whelan also told CNN he feels threatened because he's an American and that the prisoners in his camp, quote, "don't look too kindly

upon the U.S. support of Israel in Gaza."

Paul Whelan told CNN that when he spoke to prison officials about his security concerns they told him he could go to solitary confinement 24

hours a day. CNN has reached out to the prison for comment on all of this. We have not heard back.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


ASHER: All right, still to come here on CONNECT THE WORLD, we are getting a troubling look at the security crisis on the U.S. southern border as

growing numbers of migrants risk their lives to enter the United States. Plus one of the top people at the International Rescue Committee is joining

us with his take on the situation in Gaza and why the IRC is calling for an immediate ceasefire.



ASHER: All right. Welcome back to CONNECT THE WORLD. Your headlines this hour.

In one hour the United Nations Security Council is set to bring up a likely vote on a Gaza resolution. The resolution calls for a halt to the fighting

in Gaza and an increase in desperately needed humanitarian aid. The vote has been delayed time and time again repeatedly over the past week. A

source familiar with the text tell CNN that the language is softened in order to win approval from the United States.

All right, you're looking at live pictures right now from Prague. A large crowd laying flowers, lighting candles, after Thursday's mass shooting.

Police are boosting security across the Czech capital. They say a student of Prague's Charles University killed 14 students and staff members and

then killed himself. You are looking at body camera footage shown to us by police. The gunman's father was found dead and the shooter is now being

linked as well to a double murder in Prague last week.

The U.K.'s economy shrank in the third quarter of this year according to revised official data. GDP fell by 0.1 percent in the three months to the

end of October. Certain concerns that Britain could indeed be slipping into a recession. The initial estimate released last month was the output has

stayed unchanged.

And the Texas National Guard denies claims from an immigration activist that it ignored a migrant calling out for help as she struggled to cross

the Rio Grande River with a child in her arms.

I want to show you a look at that recorded video.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through text translation): Hey, help me. Help me. Don't abandon me here.


ASHER: You hear the woman they're saying help me, help me. And immigration officials, border security, apparently not doing anything. Immigration

activist Priscilla Lugo says that she shot this video 10 days ago and was really upset and distressed by what she saw. In a statement the National

Guard said that it determined there were no signs of medical distress in the situation and that the woman and her child had the ability -- this is

what they're saying. That she had the ability to return to the Mexican shores.

For more on this let's bring in CNN's Priscilla Alvarez in Washington.

I mean, this video is really difficult to watch, Priscilla. Just walk us through what the video actually shows? Give us some more context and also

what border security is saying about it as well.

PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It is alarming. And it's what the White House has been paying very close attention to as well. The

situation along the U.S.-Mexico border worsens. Now again that video that was obtained by CNN shows the woman with a child crying for help. And the

members of the Texas National Guard on two nearby boats watching but not intervening.

Now we know that eventually the woman made it to the Mexican shore with the child. And in a statement the Texas Military Department said the following,

quote, "Texas National Guard soldiers approached by boat and determined that there were no signs of medical distress, injury, or incapacitation.

And they have the ability to return the short distance back to the Mexican shore." It goes on to say the soldiers remained on site to monitor the


But again, it's an image and a video that underscores what has become an untenable situation on the U.S. southern border as more and more people are

crossing into the United States. Now a Homeland Security official tells me that in December, and that's when this video was taken, as well, the seven-

day average of daily encounters was -- sorry, 9,600.


That's compared to November, late November when it was 6,800. So a marked jump there. And it goes to underline how severe the situation has become

where resources that were already overwhelmed, already strained, are struggling to keep up with the number of people crossing. And not only

crossing in the Rio Grande where that video was shot, but crossing across the U.S. southern border. And that's what makes this uniquely challenging.

People are crossing in remote areas and many of them. So the processes that authorities often used to move migrants to other sectors to decompress an

area or to process them is becoming increasingly difficult and complicating the logistics of all of this. Meanwhile, the White House is trying to

navigate the politics of the Texas governor launches his border mission and also sends migrants to Democratic-led cities.

And yesterday, the president speaking to Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador about the situation, calling on him to do more to stem the

flow of migrants. Now the two did agree on additional enforcement. And senior U.S. officials will be traveling to Mexico in the coming days. But

what has become clear here is that it is a political and logistical challenge for this White House to navigate that gets increasingly difficult

as record numbers of people move across the entire region.

ASHER: All right. Priscilla Alvarez live for us there. Thank you so much.

All right, it's not just the U.S. that's dealing with a surge in migration. The leaders of 27 E.U. members this week agreed with the European

parliament on proposals for reforming how they deal with immigration and asylum applications. Among other things, the new rules would make it easier

for E.U. countries to limit the scale of immigration which has emerged as a major political flash point.

The changes which are under discussion for years address the screening of irregular migrants, procedures for handling asylum seekers, rules on

determining which country is responsible for the asylum application and how to handle crisis situations.

Our next guest, Bob Kitchen, is the vice president of Emergency Programs and Humanitarian Action with the International Rescue Committee.

Bob, thank you so much for being with us. I do want to talk about what is happening, of course, with Israel and Gaza. And obviously the people of

Gaza are trapped in the enclave, for lack of a better way to put it. But just in terms of what are the risks here when it comes to mass migration if

this conflict does spread, if it becomes a conflict that involves multiple Middle Eastern actors, what are the risks in terms of more people seeking

asylum, more people traveling to other countries for humanitarian reasons? Just walk us through that.

BOB KITCHEN, VP, EMERGENCY PROGRAMS AND HUMANITARIAN ACTION, IRC: Well, I think that is a risk but in comparison to what we're facing now it's quite

a small risk. The people of Palestine do not want to move, they don't want to leave their lands. And they're not being given the opportunity to right

now by neighboring countries. So what we've got is two million people being forced south in the territory against a hard border with Egypt and they're

running out of space that is safe.

And even more urgent than that, new data that's just been released says that 100 percent of the population of two million are now facing crisis

levels of food insecurity or worse. Half a million people are already in catastrophic or famine conditions. So this is the most severe food crisis I

have ever seen. So migration is an issue. People being squashed up the border. But right now the risk of starvation should be really on the top of

our minds.

ASHER: That's the thing. Starvation is just one of many, many problems the people of Gaza are dealing with right now. It's hunger. It's also people,

you know, in addition to hunger having to walk for miles. You know I read a report of somebody having to walk for at least two hours every single day

in order to find food. People getting one meal a day, if you're lucky. But then on top of that the risk of disease.

The risk of being killed in an airstrike. The risk of the building next to you collapsing and injuring you and your family. I mean, the risks are

widespread. On top of that there aren't that many hospitals operating in northern Gaza, as you well know.

Just in terms of what ordinary people who are watching this can do to help the people of Gaza. I mean, the obvious thing would be to of course donate

money to all these international aid organizations that are trying to help. But just because you donate money doesn't mean that the aid is actually

going to get to the people of Gaza when they need it, which is, of course, right now. So there is a complexity to this as well. Just explain to us how

ordinary people can help.

KITCHEN: Yes. I would happily say that what we need right now and everybody can and call their local politicians to push this forward is a cease-fire.

We desperately need a cease-fire. It's the only thing that's going to make a difference. So today as you said earlier hopefully the U.N. will finally

bring the resolution to the table that we'll see an immediate cessation of hostilities.


And we hope it will be a permanent cessation of hostilities. That's what we need as aid organizations, the humanitarian community, because we need to

be able to take in huge amounts of food, and water, and medical care for the millions of people who, as you say, majority of the 20,000 people have

been killed have been killed by indiscriminate bombardment and fighting. But now the time is ticking where we will start seeing people starving to

death and dying because of communicable outbreaks and diseases.

So we need safe, immediate, large-scale access to deliver those humanitarian services. So we really hope the U.N. will do their job. We

really hope the resolution will pass that will give us the ability to do that. So everyone should be pushing their politicians to get us to cross

the line.

ASHER: Let's talk about another war happening right now, of course the war in Ukraine. And that's been going on for, what is it, two years now? You

know, U.S. military aid drying up at this point in time. In the meantime, Russia continues to gain the upper hand in all of that. Just explain to us

how concerned you are about the humanitarian situation on the ground there as well?

KITCHEN: Yes. I'm very concerned. I'm just back from my fourth trip to Ukraine in the last two years. I visited Kyiv, the capital, Kharkiv and

down into Kherson on the southern coast. And what I saw was that the humanitarian conditions there are as bad as I've ever seen them. Winter has

arrived. I was walking around in a foot of snow across the country. At a time where Russia has increased its attacks once again targeting major

urban areas, and particularly power infrastructure, to try and knock out people's electricity and access to heating.

So they're trying to make it as difficult as possible for everyone across the country to make it through what feels like it's going to be a really

harsh winter. We still got millions of people displaced across the country. And what's really worrying is that more than 10 percent of the population

are living in areas that Russia temporarily controls. So we have no ability to deliver humanitarian aid to them.

So it's a really serious situation that I fear is going to get worse as the international community writ large starts to turn away from Ukraine. It's

really imperative that we continue making good on our commitments to provide humanitarian aid at scale to the people of Ukraine.

ASHER: I mean, there is that concern, you know, people of Ukraine feel as though they are being forgotten because the world's attention right now is

of course elsewhere. Just to talk about another war that sort of seems to be forgotten, the war in Sudan. You think about just how many people have

fled Sudan, fled Darfur, trying to get to places like Chad, for example, which is of course not a wealthy country to begin with.

Now they are also dealing with humanitarian crisis. Just in terms of having to cater for refugees, as well. Just talk to us about your assessment in

terms of what's happening, A, in Sudan, but also in neighboring countries like Chad?

KITCHEN: Well, the International Rescue Committee has just released our annual emergency watch list which gives a forecast of the top 20 countries

that we fear will see the worst humanitarian conditions in the year to come. And Sudan is on the top of that list for the first time. And that's

as a result of the war that's going on that is steadily getting worse. And it's getting worse in a way that nobody seems to be watching. 25 million

people in Sudan are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. Six million people have been forced to flee their homes.

And as you say, about a million people have crossed international borders to seek safety fleeing from Darfur that has seen some of the most intense,

vicious conflict, into Chad, which, you know, I worked there 20 years ago. It's in the middle of the desert. People are stumbling across an

international border into the middle of nowhere, only being received by organizations like the IRC, helping them settle, giving them aid to help

them survive.

I am extremely worried about the war and the impact it will have on the population of Sudan in the year to come, especially as we're seeing the war

right now this week deteriorating with the nonstate armed actor, the Rapid Support Forces, really gaining momentum, moving across the country

defeating the government. So it's heading in the wrong direction, in a very worrying direction for the civilian population there.

ASHER: Bob Kitchen, live for us there, thank you so much.

KITCHEN: Thank you.

ASHER: So the big question is, were her words her own? After surviving a firestorm of comments on antisemitism, the president of Harvard now faces

accusations of plagiarism. We'll have the latest after a short break.



ASHER: All right. Congress says it's going to be looking into claims of academic plagiarism leveled at the president of Harvard University. It

comes just two weeks after Claudine Gay and presidents of two other universities were harshly criticized over their testimony on antisemitism

on college campuses.

CNN's Danny Freeman has more.


DANNY FREEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Harvard University's president, Claudine Gay, back in the hot sea.


FREEMAN (voice-over): After the elite school said it found two more instances of inadequate citation in the embattled president's writings. Now

a U.S. House committee already investigating antisemitism at Harvard says it will also look at the plagiarism allegations. In a new letter to

Harvard's highest governing body, the committee's chair cites Harvard's honor code that states members of the college community must themselves to

producing academic work of integrity and asks, does Harvard hold its faculty and academic leadership to the same standards?

Last week, Gay submitted corrections to a pair of papers she wrote as a professional academic in 2001 and 2017. But a CNN analysis of her writings

documented other examples of plagiarism from the '90s when Gay was studying for her Ph.D. at Harvard. Gay's 1997 dissertation lifted one paragraph

almost verbatim from another source without citation.

Jonathan Bailey is a plagiarism expert.

What trouble you about the specific dissertation allegations more than others?

JONATHAN BAILEY, PLAGIARISM EXPERT AND COPYRIGHT CONSULTANT: That paragraph showed a link of text that clearly could not have been produced any other

way than through copying. Was not quoted and was not properly cited in the papers. So that's what made me worry about that one.

FREEMAN (voice-over): A Harvard spokesperson told CNN in a statement Thursday the university reviewed more of her writings and gave plans to

update her 1987 work to correct these additional instances. Harvard said the inadequate citations were regrettable but were not research misconduct.

In a previous statement about the earlier allegations, Gay defended her work, saying, "I stand by the integrity of my scholarship. Throughout my

career I have worked to ensure my scholarship adheres to the highest economic standards."

The latest development coming a week after Harvard's top governing board unanimously stood behind Gay following intense calls for her to resign over

her congressional testimony on antisemitism on college campuses.

REP. ELISE STEFANIK (R-NY): So the answer is yes that calling for the genocide of Jews violates Harvard Code of Conduct, correct?


GAY: Again it depends on the context.

FREEMAN: The allegations against Gay, who is the first black woman to serve as president of Harvard, have largely originated from conservative

activists. But the question persists. Is the school holding its president to the same standard as its students?

BAILEY: Plagiarism really exists on a spectrum between completely original writing and completely copy and pasted, and trying to pass off someone

else's work. And right now the best we have on Claudine Gay is sitting somewhere in the middle between the two.

Now despite the increase in scrutiny over these plagiarism accusations Harvard, for its part, is still publicly standing behind its president. But

that House committee, they're moving along. They've requested throve of documents from the university. So while these new corrections are coming,

the story likely not over.

Danny Freeman, CNN, Cambridge, Massachusetts.


ASHER: All right, still to come, simmering down. There's still a dangerous and dazzling display of Mother Nature's power. CNN takes a ride above

Iceland's eruption zone. We'll have those pictures for you next.


ASHER: Volcanic eruptions in southern Iceland appear to be slowing at this point. But authorities say the area does remain dangerous and it's too soon

to declare that the eruption is over.

Let's get more now from CNN's Fred Pleitgen reporting from a coast guard helicopter.


FRED PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Iceland's Coast Guard flying into the eruption zone in the Arctic night.

These flights are extremely important for the Icelandic Coast Guard. On the one hand, they have to survey the area but they also have to practice in

case they need to do mass evacuations at night.

(Voice-over): Iceland was prepared for the massive eruption that started early this week. A more than two-mile-long fissure spewing magma hundreds

of feet into the air. But while residents have been evacuated, authorities are still working in the area.

JENS POR SIGURBARSON, COMMANDER, ICELANDIC COAST GUARD: So this is highly important for us to do this during the night. And (INAUDIBLE).

PLEITGEN: The crew even spots a person walking close to the lava and say they notified police to check it out. The eruption has weakened

considerably but magma is still bubbling below us. The crew strap me in for a closer look.

This is an amazing thing to be witnessing from up here. We can see just how active the volcanic zone still is. We can see the lava, we can smell the

magma, we can feel the power that our planet is unleashing.

(Voice-over): The chopper drops us off right by the lava field to train evacuations.

This is extremely challenging flying for these aviators. Right now, they are practicing hoist operations in case they have to medically evacuate a

casualty from this area in the dark.

(Voice-over): As furious as the eruption was initially, it also seems to be subsiding fast, Seismologist Kristin Jonadottir tells me.

KRISTIN JONADOTTIR, SEISMOLOGIST, ICELANDIC METEOROLOGICAL OFFICE: It was quite active in the beginning. Four kilometers long fissure that opened.

And very high rates of magma flow. So it's a bit of a surprise that it has all culminated.

PLEITGEN: Those evacuated cannot return home yet as the magma tunnel here remains active and authorities say further eruptions are still possible.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Grindavik, Iceland.



ASHER: All right. SpaceX's Dragon cargo spacecraft has been making its way back to earth after undocking from the International Space Station. The

resupply mission was launched last month. It delivered supplies and hardware to the ISS. The dragon was originally scheduled to return last

week. But there was so much bad weather in the southern part of the United States, and that forced delays. It was expected to splash down off the

coast of Florida today.

And one final show from Mother Nature before we go. The last meteor shower of 2023, the Ursids, peaked on Thursday night. Look at that. The casual

stargazer was promised five to 10 meteors per hour. NASA says that no special equipment was needed to view the shower since the meteors could be

seen all over this guy.

All right. And we will leave you now. That is it for CONNECT THE WORLD. Stay with CNN. "STATE OF THE RACE" with Kasie Hunt is up next. You're

watching CNN.