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First Move with Julia Chatterley

Russia Increases Attacks on Steel Plant in Mariupol; Russians Target Resistance Fighters in Mariupol; Battle for Donbas; & 35 CEOs Launch CEO Council; At Least Six Killed in Explosions at Schools in Kabul; Passengers Dump Masks after U.S. Judge Strikes Down Mandate. Aired 09-10a ET

Aired April 19, 2022 - 09:00   ET



ZAIN ASHER, CNN HOST, FIRST MOVE: Hello you're watching CNN. I'm Zain Asher in New York. And a critical moment in the war the battle for the Donbas

region of Ukraine is underway. President Zelenskyy is promising to fight on against a large scale Russian ground offensive.

We already seeing efforts to break through Ukraine's frontlines in three regions right now, this video you're seeing on your screen shows a long

column of military vehicles heading from the Russian border toward the City of Izyum where Russian troops have already been gathering.

And the besieged City of Mariupol this steel plant is a holdout for the city's resistance fighters, as Russian forces have given them a second

deadline to surrender. Ukraine as said is under attack by Russian forces and smoke is pouring out of it.

As you can see in this video here in the basement, hundreds of people are taking shelter. This video you're about to see apparently shows inside

conditions inside CNN has been unable to verify when or where this video was shot. But most of the people you can actually see are women, there

children that the elderly, as well. We're told they had been there for weeks, and that there is a shortage of food where they are as well.

Today, President Biden speaks to U.S. allies and partners to discuss how exactly to hold Moscow accountable? White House's indicating plans to

impose new sanctions on Russia and expand the current ones as well. Matt Rivers has more on the battle in the Donbas region.

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Zain, I really think yesterday and today marked a turning point in this war between Russia and Ukraine. Yesterday,

really the first time that we heard across the board from Ukrainian officials that this Russian offensive that we had been waiting for days, if

not weeks, at this point after Russia's failed attempt in the northern part of the country to take the Capital of Kyiv.

Ukrainian officials basically saying across the board now that this renewed offensive by Russia in the East has begun we heard it first yesterday from

regional officials in places like Luhansk, which is part of this Donbas region that Russia is clearly aiming to capture in the coming weeks.

And then we also heard it from President Zelenskyy himself who say that this new phase of this war that has gone on for roughly two months now has

entered into what we are seeing is places like Kreminna for example, a Ukrainian city in the east that officials have said has now fallen to

Russian forces under a huge influx of artillery tanks troops, with Ukrainian officials saying their troops have retreated strategically as

they say to fight another day.

However, we have not seen the kind of clear across the board breakout that I'm sure Russian officials were hoping for in the first days of this new

offensive in the east, there is still fighting going on Ukrainian officials say that their lines are holding other places.

But I do think that this is going to be a conflict moving forward, and is not going to be measured in hours or days. I mean, you're looking at a

conflict that will go on for weeks, this will be a much different campaign than the first weeks of the war that we saw in the northern part of the

country, the terrain in the east is much more different, much more wide open, not so prone to the kind of skirmish attacks that we saw between

Russian and Ukrainian forces.

So it remains to be seen how this will play out. But we're hearing across the board from Ukrainian officials that this will be bigger battles they

think than what we saw in the beginning part of this conflict.

Meanwhile, in the southern city of Mariupol, there remains just a horrific state of siege in that city with Ukrainian defenders saying they still are

holding on to one main pocket of resistance that centers on the Azovstal Steel Plant, where Ukraine's defense officials say that is where the

majority of the fighters and it's an unknown number of fighters, but that's where their fighters remain putting up this resistance.

What we found out, according to some conversations that CNN has had with people inside that steel plant, is that there are also civilians in there.

There could be hundreds of civilians, you know, mothers children, that are basically alongside the fighters in that steel plant, and yet they have no

way out no humanitarian corridors have been agreed to between Russia and Ukraine.

Russia has laid down a new ultimatum that has since come and gone for, for Ukrainian resistance fighters to lay down their arms and surrender. And so

where this goes from here, we're not exactly sure.

But what is clear is that there is no way for the civilians not only in that steel plant, but also the tens of thousands of civilians that remain

in Mariupol to safely evacuate from that city even though it is desperately needed at this point the siege of that southern city continues, Zain.

ASHER: In Mariupol, Russia appears to be intensifying its attacks on the steel plant where Ukrainian defendants continue to hold out.


LT. COL. DENYS PROKOPENKO, COMMANDER, AZOV REGIMENT: Right now in Mariupol at the Azovstal Steel Factory, hundreds of civilians are sheltering. Among

them are children of all ages, women, the elderly, and the families of Mariupol defenders. They are sheltering in the basements and bunkers from

the Russian world.


ASHER: Matthew Chance has more.



MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): These are the kids Ukrainian officials say, are at ground zero in the battle for

Mariupol. This video posted on government social media, but which CNN can't verify shows dozens of children are said to have been sheltering for weeks

in a basement in the city, where Ukrainian forces are holding out against Russian attacks, kids distracting themselves from the battles above.

We play with these toys, build things and imagine things this little boy says. Do you want to get out of here they're asked. Yes, yes, they all

shout. But the adults here know that's unlikely to happen anytime soon.

I'm with my three children and conditions are not the best here this parent says. There's no way to study not much food, and my kids' teeth are

starting to spoil she says. But the alternative surrender to Russia may be worse.

Above ground, Mariupol has borne the brunt of Russia's brutal invasion. Latest images show the extent of the devastation. One Ukrainian commander

has called this hell on earth. But troops defending the city concentrated at the vast Azovstal Steel Works are refusing to surrender. Ukrainian

officials say they will fight until the end.

DMYTRO KULEBA, UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: The situation in Mariupol is worst dire militarily and heartbreaking. The city doesn't exist anymore, it

seems from the way Russian army behaves and Mariupol they decided to raise the city to the ground at any cost.

CHANCE (voice over): But Ukrainian forces in Mariupol are making sure that erasure is painful. This video shows a counter attack against Russian

forces by the Ukrainian Azov battalion, with their soldiers throwing grenades at Russian forces in the city.

It is an act of resistance, but the outcome may be unchanged. Already the human toll of this battle for Mariupol has been appalling with thousands,

including many civilians killed, but Ukrainian officials say another Russian offensive is now underway posing another deadly threat to those

trapped inside. Matthew Chance, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE) ASHER: Cedric Leighton joins us live now. He's a CNN Military Analyst and the Founder and Chairman of Strategic Risk Management firm Cedric Leighton

Associates. Cedric good to see you again! Let's talk about the battle intensifying overall in the Donbas region. Obviously, war has been going on

in that region for about eight years now. But what do the Ukrainians need to do at this point, to put up the kind of resistance that is needed now?

COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, Zain, good morning to you. This is I think the biggest thing that they can do is preserve

their military forces. And of course, the equipment not only that they have right now, but that is being sent to them from the NATO countries and from

the United States.

This is a - I think going to be the pivotal battle for Ukraine, phase two of this invasion. The first pivotal battle, of course, was for Kyiv and

that the Ukrainians did very well after considering everything that they had to deal with and the imbalance of forces that they were dealing with.

In the east, the challenges are pretty, pretty big for the Ukrainians, because of the way the supply lines work for them. And the Russians have

some advantage there. But they also have their challenges; their ability to reconstitute their forces is something that we'll be seeing whether or not

they can do that.

The other thing that we need to look at from the Russian standpoint is how fast and how far they're going to advance. Are they going to take just the

eastern part of the country? Or are they going to try to take even more?

I think right now the betting is that they will stick to the east for the most part, but if they can gain an advantage and encircle the Ukrainian

forces, they're going to do that.

ASHER: And that brings me to my next question. I mean, if they succeed in the Donbas region, do they then make another attempt at Kyiv?

LEIGHTON: Yes, I think they work. I think what they would do if they succeed in the Donbas, I think the next target would be a town like Dnipro.

They could also potentially, encircle Kyiv excuse me Kharkiv and move then, you know, once they do that potentially move to Kyiv.

If they see an opportunity or any weakness in the defenses of the Ukrainian capital I that they can exploit they'll do that. But they are going to have

a difficult time turning into that kind of a movement so they'd have to move basically from both the north and southeast towards Kyiv.


LEIGHTON: If they did this, but it right now their main objective has turned to the east. And I think Dnipro and Kharkiv are the two areas that

they're going to be focused on at the moment.

ASHER: Obviously, the U.S. is sending more military aid, as are other countries, including Japan, et cetera. But at this point in time do the

Ukrainians have the necessary weaponry and the necessary ammunition to sustain this kind of intense battle in the Donbas region?

LEIGHTON: I think the Ukrainians would answer that question saying with that we can never have enough. And I think they're right. They, you know,

have some fairly good supplies, you know, the fact that 40,000 rounds of ammunition associated with how it serves that will be coming their way that

that is, of course, a major element there.

But they're using ammunition at the rate of you know, many, many rounds per day, who rounds that would normally be extended in a week's time as opposed

to a daily rate. So they can't, they have to be resupplied on a continual basis. It's kind of like, the Berlin Airlift in the 1940s.

But this is you know, a weapon sustainment issue, not a humanitarian relief flight effort, which that one was, of course, back then. So this is

something where they're going to have to really be careful in how they use the all of their resources, whether it's weapons, whether it's troops, you

know, whether it's a, you know, other aspects of, you know, information warfare campaign?

So this is going to be a very big thing for them to do. But they're going to have to, you know, turn and pivot as the Russians do, and did try to

anticipate Russia's moves as much as they possibly can.

ASHER: The Russians have added more troops to the eastern part of Ukraine, obviously, but how long can they sustain that for? How long can they

sustain? And you talked about the Ukrainian side, but in terms of the Russians, and because you think about the hit that this has taken on the

Russian economy, they're in dire straits as well.

LEIGHTON: That's right. And I think this is going to be a very interesting question. So when you look at the pre-invasion figures for the Ukrainian

and Russian forces, and you put them against each other, in essence, you're dealing with about it, you know, the Ukrainians have about a 10th of the

size of the defense budget, for example.

That's, of course, pre-invasion and all of that, you know, it's flown out the window now that the invasion has occurred. But yes, the Russians have

significant challenges. As the sanctions take effect, it's going to have a major impact on the Russians ability to move their forces forward.

We can see, I think, some challenges to their logistics, you know, obviously intangibles like morale, and unit cohesion become big factors,

the fact that the Russians have appointed one single commander, to run this operation finally, you know, from military perspective, that, you know,

also speaks volumes.

So he is going to probably try to rein in as much control as he possibly can. But there are certain problems that you can't fix overnight logistics,

being one of those and of course, finances writ large are going to be a big issue, because as the Russians start not to be able to pay their troops or

not to be able to pay for supplies going forward from other countries, that will be a huge issue for them. And that could stall the invasion.

ASHER: How is it that Mariupol still hasn't technically fallen yet?

LEIGHTON: I think it's - I think one word to sum that up, Zain is the word grit, the grit of the defenders, you know, whether it be Ukrainian Marines,

or the Azov battalion, those are significant elements in this end.

The other thing that I've also noticed is that when it comes to the Azovstal Plant the big steel plant that Matt Rivers talked about in his

reporting, that plant is built to withstand all kinds of external forces to include potentially even built to protect against nuclear war.

It was obviously a Cold War relic, that say, you know, been used to, you know, up until now, it's a steel plant, that that effort, I think, you

know, back from the Soviet days is paying, you know, kind of ironic dividends for the Ukrainians in that they're able to stay there, they're

able to also fight the Russians off then the Russians have a reluctance.

They're not quite sure how to go in and subjugate that particular area. And that's also going to be a problem. They're figuring out how to do that. And

it's taking time for them to do that. And frankly, the Ukrainians are in essence accomplishing a major goal in this operation because they're tying

up a lot of Russian forces in the Russian effort to Capture Mariupol.


LEIGHTON: In that sense, the Ukrainians are succeeding, although ultimately I believe Mariupol will fall, but it will be at a very, very high cost to

both sides.

ASHER: All right. Colonel Cedric Leighton, thank you so much CNN Military Analyst. All right still to come here, the IMF calls the war in Ukraine an

economic event akin to a global earthquake; it is slashing its growth outlook for this year.

And next, plus, rising inflation and no safety net in Latin America are getting hit hard by higher food and energy prices, as the war in Ukraine

intensifies that story next.


ASHER: Welcome back! A cautious day in global markets as the war in Ukraine takes a dangerous new turn. President Zelenskyy saying the battle for the

Donbas region has now begun. He says Ukrainian troops will not surrender one inch of territory.

U.S. stocks on track for a third day of losses and semesters monitor the latest war developments. European markets are beginning their trading week

in the red as well. You see all of those down arrows across your screen and stocks under pressure as global bond yields rise again.

The yield on the benchmark U.S, 10 Year Treasury is hitting fresh three year highs yields currently above 2.9 percent German yields are hitting

seven year highs as well. Twitter shares also pulling back pre market after a 7 percent rally yesterday.

Shares rose Monday amid reports that buyout firm Apollo Global Management may help finance Elon Musk bid to buy the company and take it private. And

after the closing bell investors will get closely watched results from IBM and Netflix as well. More firms are set to update investors on the Ukraine

wars impact on business in their first quarter earnings statements as well.

Also today the IMF is cutting its global economic growth outlook for this year and next year because of the war in Ukraine as well as ongoing efforts

by central banks to tame rising inflation. Anna Stewart joins us live now. So the IMF Anna slashing global growth outlook in half just walk us through

the key headlines coming out of this report.

ANNA STEWART, CNN REPORTER: Yes, this is a very significant downgrade. They're expecting global growth of just 3.6 percent this year. That is a

big downgrade from the estimate just in January is 0.8 percent less growth than they were expecting just a few months ago.


STEWART: And of course, the situation when we look at Ukraine and Russia, specifically, much more severe contraction there for Ukraine, and double

digit contraction of 35 percent, Russia coming in it, minus 8.5 percent. And, of course, the impact of that, and what we're seeing in terms of

commodity prices relating to Ukraine and Russia, it means inflation is going up across the board. They've got lots of projections on that as well.

Now, the war in Ukraine is the main drag on this forecast, no surprises there at all. But there are some other factors and I would love to

highlight actually, the slowdown in China because GDP there is now expected to come in at 4.4 percent this year.

Now, that is a significant downgrade from the last IMF projection, but also it really undershoots Beijing's official target by over a percentage point

and that of course as lockdowns continue in China, so this outlook makes no particularly grim reading, Zain.

ASHER: Yes, and it's also important to know this outlook is based on the assumption the war doesn't escalate further, what happens to this outlook

if Russia's huge energy sectors targeted by sanctions as well?

STEWART: Yes, the adverse scenario with an escalation of sanctions on Russia, of course, including embargoes and oil and gases are much more

severe contraction for those economies, but also a much bigger decrease in their estimation for global growth.

For instance, they say global GDP in that scenario would decrease by 2 percent by 2023 of the euro, which is more exposed. Particularly we talk

about Russian energy, of course, that comes to 3 percent decrease in GDP.

It gets into a lot of detail about what it expects, in terms of the volumes of Russian oil and gas that would come off the market. But it's looking at

the prices that I think is really interesting, it then sees in this very severe scenario, of course, and only in this scenario sees Russian oil

prices, sorry, overall oil prices up 10 percent this year, and that is on top of what we're already seeing now for natural gas prices up 20 percent.

That, of course has a huge impact on inflation and other cost of living. But it's a particularly stark outlook for sort of advancing economies

particularly we're looking at food and cost of living, Zain.

AHSER: Alright, Anna Stewart thank you so much appreciate it. All right, storing inflation also hitting many Latin American countries hard, which is

of course fueling public anger there, Stefano Pozzebon has more.


STEFANO POZZEBON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): In the slum of - in the outskirts of Lima Elena Rodriguez had some shopping for her lunch service.

Rodriguez works as a cook in a soup kitchen, preparing meals for some of the most vulnerable residents of the slum.

But lately, even a simple soup has become too pricey.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Before things were accessible everything vegetables, potatoes, now all that is very expensive. Prices have gone up so much. I

don't know what to do anymore.

POZZEBON (voice over): Rodriguez says she started cutting down on meats to keep her cooking at an affordable price. But her situation is far from

alone. In the Brazilian City of Rio de Janeiro, her colleague Antonio - has a similar recipe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Poor people can only eat fish, sausages and chicken, they can forget about meat.

POZZEBON (voice over): Inflation triggered by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and by rising oil prices around the world it's even hard in Latin

America, where millions are exposed to rising food prices with no safety nets to fall back. There was inflation in March reached the highest level

in 26 years, while Brazil had last seen these levels of inflation when it created a new currency to escape an inflationary wave in the 1990s.

In Argentina, along the textbook case on hyperinflation President Alberto Fernandez launched a new offensive against an old.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On Friday we start a new war. It's the war against inflation.

POZZEBON (voice over): Prices are spiking just as economies were beginning to recover from the impact of the COVID-19 lockdowns. According to the

United Nations an additional 14 million Latin Americans have gone hungry since 2019 and thousands have taken to the streets be it in Brazil, where

inflation will play a key role in the presidential elections later this year.

But in Peru what at least the six people were dying to do on this general strike against rising fuel prices in - Rodriguez has managed somehow to

fill her pumps and lunch will be served for now. Outside our kitchen, the ports are empty, filled only with cries of anger. Hunger awaits us.


ASHER: Stefano Pozzebon reporting there. All right still to come, the ultimate test for Ukrainian troops as the battle for Donbas begins a report

from Kyiv after the break.



ASHER: Welcome back! The battle for the Donbas region is underway. Volodymyr Zelenskyy is promising Ukrainians will fight on. He is thanking

what he calls the country's heroic towns for standing firm against Russian invaders.

Officials in the eastern region of Luhansk are urging civilians to evacuate saying there are no safe places left at this point in time. You're already

seeing efforts to break through Ukraine's frontlines in three regions in particular.

This video shows a long column of Russian military vehicles heading towards the City of Izyum, where Russian troops are already gathering. CNN's Ed

Lavandera joins us live now from Kyiv. So Ed let's start with Mariupol because obviously there that city has put up a very fierce resistance.

But particularly in this steel plant, where you've got a lot of soldiers, a lot of women, a lot of children hiding underground and the steel plant is

being targeted by the Russians at this point. Walk us through that.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, we really should kind of pause and take into account that the Ukrainian forces there have

put up a fight in Mariupol for more than a month and a half now, which is really a testament to their strength and what they've been able to do but

as each hour goes by the news seems to get more grim.

We're told that there are a number of military units left inside this steel plant maybe as many as thousand people but also with the civilians inside

including children. There was a video released of that scene inside the steel, the steel plant yesterday.

Just a few hours ago, Russian military officials were saying that there had been an offer of surrender and a deadline of the past about several hours

ago about four and a half hours ago and no indication that the force is inside that steel plant the Ukrainian forces have accepted that surrender



LAVANDERA: But it is a grim situation inside that city is the last vestiges of Ukrainian forces continue to hold on as long as they can.

ASHER: And let's talk about the battle that's intensifying in the Donbas region. What are the Ukrainians needs right now, especially from the

international community as the war that part of the country really heats up?

LAVANDERA: Well Zain, this is going to be a very different kind of battle than we saw in the suburbs in the areas north of Kyiv. This is more wide

open space. Ukrainian forces have been saying they need artillery equipment, long range weaponry that can fight back against the Russian

forces that have really been pummeling the Ukrainian forces over the last 24 hours with artillery, the idea here is that the Russians are trying to

soften up Ukrainian forces on the ground to allow for an easier ground movement from their forces.

But what we've seen over the last 24 hours is some back and forth is and some struggle over several of the small villages in that Eastern Ukrainian

area. But this is going to be a battle and fights that will take some time that will be very intense, very different from what we have seen already.

And this is part of the strategy from Russian forces to really focus on this Donbas region in Eastern Ukraine. And we should also point out that it

really extends over this land bridge area over the Crimean Peninsula and toward the cities of Kherson and Mykolaiv.

And down in Mykolaiv in the south pretty much straight south to the coast, from where we are here in Kyiv. That is also a city that has seen constant

attacks over the last four or five days as well. So it's, you know, this new renewed fighting and intense fighting is really taking place in various

regions of the country right now.

ASHER: All right, Ed Lavandera live for us there. Thank you so much. As fighting escalates in the East, as Ed Lavandera was just talking about so

does the humanitarian crisis as well. Millions of refugees have already fled to neighboring countries in Europe.

The White House recently announced that it would welcome up to 100,000 refugees to the United States. One humanitarian agency "" is

already working to support refugees in America founded in August 2021 in response to the Afghan refugee crisis.

The organization has launched a new initiative to help Ukrainian and Afghan refugees rebuild in the United States. Nazanin Ash joins us live now. She's

the CEO of Nazanin, thank you so much for being with us.

So President Biden actually announced back in March, I think it was that the U.S. was expecting about 100,000 refugees from Ukraine. And also

roughly around 75,000 from Afghanistan, that's actually a much larger number than the U.S. typically welcomes in any given year, what sort of

pressure does that put on resettlement refugee agencies?

NAZANIN ASH, CEO, WELCOME.US: Thank you so much for having me, Zain. And thanks so much for covering such an important topic. You're so right to

point to how much the speed and scale of arrivals this year in response to really extraordinary crises overseas.

You know, the fall of the Afghan government, the Russian invasion of Ukraine these have triggered massive displacement and events at a scale and

speed not seen in decades. And what you have happening in the United States right now is the Biden Administration is set over the course of fiscal year

2022 to receive orders of magnitude more refugees than were received in fiscal year 21 where over the course of the entire year, just over 11,000

refugees were resettled here in the United States.

And this year, as you reported, we're expecting close to 80,000 Afghans, the administration has committed to admitting over at least 100,000

Ukrainians and that's on top of the Biden Administration's commitment to admit 125,000 refugees from global crises worldwide.

So it does put tremendous pressure on the resettlement infrastructure here, especially after, you know, the extraordinary capacity constraints faced

over the last five years, when refugee numbers declined so significantly.

I think what we've discovered at "" is, while there are significant capacity constraints to overcome, they can best be overcome and

in fact, in many ways are easily overcome when we tap into the extraordinary capacity of our American communities, or civic organizations

and our private sector.

ASHER: When a refugee comes into the U.S. let's say one of the 100,000 that the U.S. has - man from Ukraine. They come here they don't have a

professional network. They may not have any friends here they may not know anyone.


ASHER: In many cases, they don't really bring that much with them, because obviously that would be too cumbersome. And on top of that, perhaps is a

language barrier, perhaps their degrees that they obtained in Ukraine may or may not translate to the United States. So what is the greatest need,

especially from a professional perspective?

ASH: It's such a good question. As all of us thought when we watched images of Ukrainians fleeing Ukraine, or when we saw Afghan else boarding

evacuation flights in Afghanistan, refugees are often carrying with them, only what they can carry.

And as you've seen with Ukrainian mothers fleeing with their children, if you're carrying children, that's very little indeed, in addition to your

child. So they're arriving here with everything needed to restart their lives from the need for housing, the need for basic household supplies, you

know, clothing, an initial cash support to be able to cover initial expenses.

And then as you said, refugees often arrive with a wide variety of professional and educational backgrounds and finding a job and securing

employment is one of the most critical elements to their stability and economic progress.

And what we know from the refugee experience is that they're extraordinarily successful, you know, over 90 percent, are self-sufficient

within 180 days. And that's very much because so many American communities and state and local governments really see the value of refugees and the

professional certifications and educational backgrounds that they bring.

The private sector really sees that. We're hosting an employment exchange right now for refugees that have over 50,000 jobs posted on it at every

skill level and every corner of the country, posted by private sector partners, large companies and small local companies who are eager to tap

into refugee skill sets and capacity.

ASHER: Because you know, at a time like this, just going back to the private sector, as you just touched on at a time like this with when it

comes to sort of resettling refugees, you would think that that would be the responsibility of government.

But do you believe that it is equally the responsibility of government, and also the private sector, as well? I mean, who do you think should sort of -

who do you think is more responsible rather, for making sure that these refugees have what they need in terms of resettling from a professional


ASH: So it's such an interesting question, because I think it is the opportunity of government and it's the opportunity of the private sector,

and it's the opportunity of our American communities to welcome refugees.

It's certainly the responsibility of government to make decisions about how many refugees we admit to ensure that they've received thorough security

and background checks, which they do, that they've been reviewed for their need for humanitarian protection.

These are all the responsibilities of government. And indeed, government frequently provides the initial resources for refugees to rebuild their

lives. But it's the opportunity of our American communities and our American private sector to benefit from the contributions of these


We're seeing states like Vermont pass legislation, dedicating resources in their budgets in order to attract newcomers to the state, because

attracting newcomers and welcoming them robustly is a win-win for everybody.

They have entrepreneurship rates that are 50 percent, higher than native populations, there are job creators, they have higher graduate high school

graduation, home ownership, college graduation rates than native populations, they are really an extraordinary benefit to the communities

that welcome them.

So I see it very much as an opportunity, not only a responsibility, and that's why we see so many state and local governments stepping up and in

fact, American communities and state and local governments and the private sector you know, they often are the first to put their hands up to welcome


We conducted a poll recently with more in common, and over 90 million Americans had already or were actively seeking opportunities to help

welcome newcomers. That's the outpouring of support that we've tapped into to support Afghan newcomers and it's the outpouring of support that we know

will tap into to ensure that Ukrainian arrivals also receive a warm welcome here.

ASHER: It's such a beautiful thing when the community really comes together to rally around and support people who need it the most Nazanin Ash thank

you so much for being with us.

All right, still to come here explosions hit schools in Kabul leaving several people dead and more in the hospital we have a live report with

full details next.



ASHER: All right, these are the stories making headlines around the world. At least six people were killed in Afghanistan's capital following

explosions at a high school and an educational center as well. Seven children were hospitalized.

It happened in a part of Kabul that's home to a Shia minority group that has been the target of previous attacks. CNN's Arwa Damon is joining us

live now from Istanbul. So Arwa what more do we know about this attack? And also, who's responsible as well?

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there haven't been any claims of responsibility at this point just yet, Zain but you can

only imagine how devastating this has been for the residents of Kabul.

And for those parents that said goodbye to their children this morning most likely told them they loved them, wished them a happy day at school only to

then be confronted with this sort of violence and this sort of fear as so many of them tried to figure out exactly what had happened to their child.

We do know that at least six people have been killed. Dozens more have been injured. And it appears as if two specific locations were the targets of

these attacks. One being a high school and the other being what's described as an educational center.

So were people that weren't necessarily enrolled in school that wanted to take classes for their own education could go and have access to that.

Getting information has been very difficult. What we heard from numerous people on the ground was that the Taliban was preventing journalists from

going in covering the aftermath of all of these filming getting images of what had actually taken place.

But when you look at the few visuals that have managed to come out it is absolutely hair raising streets drenched with blood schoolbooks covered in

blood people understandably wailing incredibly emotional.

One clip showed a father trying to comfort two girls telling them that he would find their sister. Another clip showed a woman very visibly

distraught. And all of this is as you're mentioning, they're targeting Kabul's Western neighborhood that is predominantly Shia Hazara.

This is a community that has come under attack in the past. When I say in the past over the course of the last years as violence in Afghanistan,

flared and then relatively speaking came under control to a certain degree.


DAMON: But just as recently, as last year, May 2021, this very same neighborhood was targeted. And in that attack that was targeting back then

a girl's school 85 people were killed. And so if you're a citizen of that neighborhood today, if you're a citizen of Kabul or even just a citizen of

Afghanistan, your reality has been shaken once again to the very core Zain.

ASHER: That's heartbreaking. Awa Damon lives for us there. Thank you so much. The President of South Africa says his government has declared a

national state of disaster after floods, mudslides and extreme weather devastating - devastated rather parts of the country.

A week of torrential rains has left thousands homeless more than 440 people dead and dozens missing. 10,000 troops are helping with rescue missions and

providing medical support as well.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice over): A rescue team on a mission to find a woman missing since torrential rains swept through parts of South Africa.

They zeroed in on the river it's where locals they found the remains of other victims.

MBUKENI KHWELA, HERDSMAN: We are here looking for our neighbor who was swept away by the river. We are sure she was swept by the river because we

have found her son, but we haven't found her.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice over): It's just one of several search operations underway in and around Durban where emergency workers probe the

banks of rivers and sniffer dogs comb through piles of debris to try to find dozens of people still unaccounted for. One relief official who just

returned from the area says he hasn't seen this kind of flooding in decades.

DR. MICHAEL CHARLES, HEAD OF COUNTRY CLUSTER DELEGATION FOR SOUTHERN AFRICA, IFRC: They've lost everything. They've seen their houses been swept

away. They've seen their livelihoods been swept away. And you know the situation is really quite dire.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice over): Officials say 10,000 troops have been activated to provide support for rescue missions, as well as to help clean

up and bring aid to the more than 40,000 people left homeless from the floods.

Disaster management workers and volunteers are packing water and other supplies to deliver to communities without clean water and power. Some

places already getting help now that flood waters have receded in some areas.

But authorities in the - province say many roads and bridges are damaged or washed away. The devastation is so widespread South African President Cyril

Ramaphosa declared a national state of disaster.

CYRIL RAMAPHOSA, SOUTH AFRICAN PRESIDENT: This is a humanitarian disaster that calls for a massive and urgent relief effort. The lives, health and

well-being of thousands of people are still at risk.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice over): With dry weather expected, officials hoped to get a better look at the scale of destruction and begin the long

process of recovery.


ASHER: After the break overnight, the requirement to wear a mask and public transport in the United States comes to an end and it was a judge who made

the call not the Centers for Disease Control, we'll have details coming up.



ASHER: When it comes to diamond production, Botswana is second only to Russia. In today's episode of "Connecting Africa", Eleni Giokos speaks with

the Head of a Botswana diamond producer to find out what the war in Ukraine means for the sector.


ELENI GIOKOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: OK, so diamonds don't like uncertainty. When you see what's happening in Eastern Europe right now? Is it worrying?

LYNETTE ARMSTRONG, MANAGING DIRECTOR, DEBSWANA: Definitely, it is of huge concern, you know, whilst we operate right at the bottom of Africa, the

truth is that our markets are right out there, where it's happening in these first world countries.

So what is happening in Russia is naturally of concern to us. I mean, they, you know, they deal with diamonds. That's who we are. That's what we stand

for. So, you know, rather afraid that there could be negative connotations towards us.

At Debswana our position really is how resilient can we be? We need to have plans in place that if we need to reduce production and respond to what's

happening in the market, we're able to do so at the same time, if the opportunities around increased demand in the market, we're able to do so.

GIOKOS: Because it is a double edged sword the sanctions on Russia, right? Which scenarios do you think more likely?

ARMSTRONG: Now, it's very difficult. To be honest, you know, on a daily basis, this environment is changing. And, you know, we're just hoping for

the best, I'm not in a position to say whether it'll have a positive impact on pricing. It's a very sensitive area one domino effects and other so

we've just got to be very careful.

GIOKOS: I want to talk about your marketing diamonds to the rest of the continent, right? We've got the continental free trade area, which has gone

live, but what are the geniuses that are you seeing in terms of getting Africans to buy African diamonds?

ARMSTRONG: I think, you know, the closest that I can talk to is De Beers opening a store in Botswana a few years ago at our airport. So there is a

realization that there is a market in Africa. Without doubt, it is untapped. And it represents an opportunity for the future.

GIOKOS: Your government is trying to learn more people, you're trying to learn more tourists, and you're trying to learn more investors. And there

are a lot of interesting points that you could really capitalize on. So how does the diamond story fall into this?

ARMSTRONG: The opportunities are there for our citizens. I think we've had plenty positive commentary, very excited about the store and you know

everyone talking about is there more opportunity in terms of employment created in country through stores, boosting the local cutting and polishing

et cetera.

So it is an area I think that we need to focus on more. And the whole idea is really to position Debswana and say, well, you know, what else can be

done? What are the opportunities that we can explore?


ASHER: After two years of strictly enforced mask wearing onboard U.S. flights with a threat of criminal action against law breakers, these

passengers are throwing them away with the blessing of cabin crew. That's after a judge rejected the CDC's mask mandate for public transportation.

Many airlines and the Transportation Safety Administration have already dropped the policy as well. Pete Muntean is at Reagan National Airport for

us in Virginia. It's important to mention though, Pete that mask mandates are still enforced, when you're traveling to countries where they are still

enforced, but they're still a requirement. But here in the U.S. it is now optional on flights just walk us through what the reaction has been.

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: You know, we're seeing here and Reagan National Airport, a place where I've been wearing a mask since the

early days of the pandemic about maybe 50 or 75 percent of people still wearing a mask.

Words still getting out there that the transportation mask mandate no longer in place on planes, trains, buses, boats, that also includes here

inside of terminals went into effect in the early days of the Biden Administration, February 2021.

It was extended again and again. In fact, the most recent extension just last week would have pushed the expiration date to May 3rd. But now this

court ruling by U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball - says this order initially exceeded the CDC's authority at first through the travel industry

in a bit of disarray.

The White House in fact didn't even know how to react to it during the press briefing yesterday afternoon? Then the White House came out and said

yes, the transportation mask mandate no longer in effect pending a federal government review.


MUNTEAN: And the TSA would no longer be enforcing the federal transportation mask mandate mask rules. We've seen airlines over and over

again say masks are now optional on board their flights.

In fact, we've heard some of the announcements come out mid-flight, passengers finding out about this to some cheers. And there's been some

celebratory reactions just listen to these passengers at New York's LaGuardia Airport last night.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel very safe especially since your planes are one of the safest indoor places you know that I don't think that's necessary.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Even in traveling here in Benin downtown in New York and everybody that were able to not wear masks and things I felt much more

comfortable keeping mine on.


MUNTEAN: So again Zain, mask optional for passengers and employees on U.S. airlines. Employees are key they've been on the front lines of enforcing

this transportation mask mandate latest FAA data says about 70 percent of all unruly passenger incidents just this year have had to do with masks

also masks not required on Amtrak and on Uber we're just hearing as well, Zain.

ASHER: Alright, Pete Muntean live for us there. Thank you so much. And that's it for the show. Stay with CNN, I'll be back with "One World" in a

couple of hours. "Connect the World" with Becky Anderson is next.