Return to Transcripts main page

One World with Zain Asher

Rescue Efforts Continue After Collapse of Southern Ukraine Dam; Biden and Sunak Meet at the Oval Office; Grand Jury Meeting Today on the Trump Classified Documents Case; France Knife Attacker Wounds Six People; Canada Experiences Worst Ever Wildfire Season. Aired 12-1p ET

Aired June 08, 2023 - 12:00   ET




ZAIN ASHER, CNN HOST: Hello everyone, I'm Zain Asher in New York and this is One World. Two days after the catastrophic collapse of a critical dam in

southern Ukraine, rescue efforts continue, with dramatic scenes like this taking place as the scope of the devastation becomes increasingly clear as

each hour passes. But it's not just rising waters posing a challenge to residents in Kherson. Homelessness, threat of disease, and floating

landmines are all adding to the increased safety risks.

In addition to the fighting, Ukrainian officials are accusing Russian forces of shelling evacuation areas and injuring nine civilians, one, by

the way, critically. Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited the region earlier, and he called for a clear and quick global response to the disaster. Meantime,

U.S. officials tell CNN that Ukrainian forces are being met with stiff resistance as they try to break through Russian lines in the eastern part

of the country.

CNN's Sam Kylie joins us live now from Kyiv. So, the fact that Ukrainian soldiers are being met with stiff resistance, Sam, what does that tell us

about the pending counteroffensive and how hard it will be?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I don't think it tells us anything, Zain, at all. Obviously, they're going to be met with stiff

resistance. This is a war. But I think that the important news is two-fold.

First of all, that there have been these probing attacks along the front line in Zaporizhzhia, which has involved Ukrainian troops that have been

using some of the NATO-supplied equipment. Now, this was always going to be an extremely well-defended front line. And a lot of the evidence,

particularly on social media, is that the Ukrainian troops are meeting resistance in that area.

At the same time though, they are now reporting some significant advances over three and a half kilometers albeit down a fairly narrow corridor south

of the city of Bakhmut. Then are those advances being reported by Ukraine's third assault brigade. This is what some of it looked like.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) KILEY (voice-over): Ukraine's third assault brigade is in action near Bakhmut, and they claim they're making advances around the city. But their

attack is dependent on Soviet-era weapons. Modern equipment from the USA and NATO is apparently being held in reserve for a Ukrainian offensive. Do

you have a name for your grad?

UNKNOWN (through translator): This car is called "Pensioner".

KILEY: Is it good enough for this fight?

UNKNOWN (through translator): It's good enough but I'd like to have something newer.

KILEY: Ukraine gets no help at all with aircraft, not so far. This Soviet- era helicopter is ancient, but in combat almost every day, flying dangerously low to avoid missiles and Russian jet hunter killers.

SERHIY, PILOT, UKRAINIAN ARMED FORCES: These helicopters are probably older than my parents, and maybe even like my grandparents' age. To fly them,

they are very reliable machines.

KILEY: This aircraft will fly more Salties as fighting intensifies in a relentless cycle of war. Ukraine has now got added rage at what it's

calling a Russian ecocide. This part of Kherson has suffered Russian bombardment across the river for months. Now, near total destruction from


Russia is widely blamed for the collapse of the dam at Nova Kakhovka which has been under its control since March last year.


Civilians who survived the Russian occupation of their town and an offensive to free it are now facing down a new horror. Thousands have no

drinking water. Here a drone delivers help, an adaptation of a system originally designed not to save life, but to take it.

(END VIDEOTAPE) KILEY (on-camera): Now, Zain, amidst all of this, of course, there's endless speculation about whether or not Ukraine has begun its planned

counteroffensive. I think the efforts where they've seen resistance near Zaporizhzhia, these attacks that we've seen coming south from Bakhmut, and

indeed the raids into Russia itself, are all part of the ongoing shaping operations.

And earlier on today, I actually sent a text message to Minister Reznikov, the defense minister, here saying has your offensive started, and he sent

back a message saying, no, our counteroffensive started on the 24th of February 2022, which of course is the day that Russia invaded Ukraine.


ASHER: All right, Sam Kiley, thank you so much. The U.S.-British partnership is known as a special relationship, and right now those ties

are being strengthened. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is sitting down with U.S. President Joe Biden at the White House. The two leaders have a

range of global issues to discuss.

Joining us live now at the White House is Kevin Liptak to talk more about this. So, just walk us through what is on the agenda. Of course, Ukraine is

high up on there as well as the economic partnership between both countries. Kevin.

KEVIN LIPTAK, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, certainly Ukraine is what the White House says is at the top of mind for these two leaders when

they're sitting down. And we just did catch a little glimpse of them in the Oval Office talking about, as you said, the special relationship, the

partnership on Ukraine. And they did both mention sort of the evolving economic outlook in the world.

And that is something that Rishi Sunak did come to this meeting at the top of his agenda was sort of a discussion of what he calls economic

interoperability, ensuring that the and that the UK are aligned as the global economy does enter sort of an uncertain period. But it is, of

course, Ukraine that is top of mind.

They will, of course, discuss developments in regard to that dam that recently collapsed as Ukraine prepares for this counteroffensive, trying to

ensure that the Western alliance is providing Ukraine what it needs, including the potential for fighter jets. And the UK has said that it will

train Ukrainian pilots on its type of fighter jets as they prepare for this potential shipment but really, you know, the importance of this

relationship is difficult to understate.

Now, these two leaders, when they did sit down, they both referenced Churchill and Roosevelt. And the importance of these two offices

communicating and coordinating, at the same time, I don't think there's any question that this is not Churchill and Roosevelt.

It's not Reagan and Thatcher. It's not even Barack Obama and David Cameron. These two men are really sort of still getting to know each other. They

have obvious ideological and political differences. President Biden more on the liberal side. Rishi Sunak on the conservative side. They're also, you

know, of quite different generations. Sunak 43, the youngest member of the G7. President Biden at 80 is the oldest, but they have developed a warmth

over the last six months or so.

And I think from an American perspective, there is a real, you know, celebration that there is a stable figure in Downing Street after that

tumultuous period over the summer where the Brits were seeming to go through a prime minister every month or so, they do value this level of

pragmatism, and they do feel like they're able to coordinate better going forward.

This is the first time Sunak has been at the White House since he entered office. It did take a little while for President Biden to invite him here.

But, you know, I was talking to a British official earlier this week who made the point, President Biden doesn't always invite leaders to stay at

the Blair House, which is the guest house across the street from the White House. He doesn't always have a press conference with his foreign guests,

and both of those are happening this time.

So, certainly, there is, you know, a celebration that this visit is now happening and now underway. It's not the most formal visit that President

Biden could offer, but it is an important moment for these two leaders to get aligned and get on the same page on this whole host of issues that they

are confronting, Zain.

ASHER: Yeah, we will be taking that press conference that you mentioned live here on CNN. All right, Kevin Liptak live for us there. Thank you so


All right, we're getting the clearest signal yet that Donald Trump may soon face new criminal charges. Sources tell CNN, the Department of Justice has

notified the former U.S. President that he is the target of Special Counsel Jack Smith's classified documents probe. Those documents were found at

Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort last year. He denies any wrongdoing. Trump, who is a current Republican presidential candidate, is already facing a 34-

count criminal indictment, another case, along with a number of state and federal investigations.


CNN's Katelyn Polantz joins us live now from Miami, Florida, where a grand jury is meeting today in the classified documents case. So, Katelyn, how

likely is it that we could see another indictment here? And what would be the implications of a second indictment on Trump's presidential run the

second time around?

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, it would be a second indictment, but it would be the first federal criminal charge

against a president or former president of the United States, something truly historic, unprecedented. And we're watching very, very closely for

activity in this case right now, because this is no ordinary case. This is a case that is being investigated by a special counsel's office, so a

special appointee at the Justice Department to look into this.

It is a case about national security. The handling of records outside of the hands, the secure holding of the federal government in the hands of

Donald Trump after he left the presidency. And you know, this has also been an extraordinary moment in that over the past week. We had been so

expecting to see much of the activity out of the federal courthouse in Washington, D.C., the nation's capital, where this investigation was based

out of, where we saw many witnesses go in and out of that courthouse to testify to that grand jury, where Donald Trump's defense attorney on this

case, Evan Corcoran was forced to share his notes, to share his recollections of his conversations with his client Donald Trump.

But then, just in recent days, we have learned that there is grand jury activity also happening in the federal courthouse here in Miami, Florida.

And that activity included a witness coming in yesterday, some other witnesses testifying in recent days. And then today we have spotted some

prosecutors, at least one prosecutor working with the Special Counsel's office on this particular classified records obstruction of justice case

here in Florida, here at the courthouse complex.

And so, all of this is coming together at a time where Donald Trump has also just been told, notified, from the Justice Department through his

attorneys that he is the target of a federal probe. That is something, Zain, that does not happen until the Justice Department has a lot of their

ducks in the row that they have heard from an abundance of witnesses, gathered many, many pieces of evidence, and are nearing very much a

conclusion on a charging decision whether or not Donald Trump will be charged with a federal offense. Zain.

ASHER: We're watching closely. Katelyn Polantz, live for us. Thank you so much. And we're getting our first look at the man police believe carried

out a vicious knife attack at a park in southeastern France. Witnesses tell police the man started stabbing people repeatedly, apparently at random. A

local prosecutor says the suspect is a Syrian asylum-seeker whose motive at this point remains unclear.

Four young children and two adults were injured in what President Emmanuel Macron calls an act of absolute cowardice. The suspect is in custody right

now. Let's bring in CNN's Melissa Bell live for us in Paris. Melissa, this is gut-wrenching just in terms of what we're hearing. But walk us through

what actually happened.

MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS CORRESPONDENT: It was 9:45 AM here in France. It's a particularly hot day. This park that you're talking about where this

attack happened, Zain, is on the sides of a very famous lake in the Alps, a really picturesque spot that people go to, a tourist attraction, in fact.

And we've been learning over the course of the afternoon much more about the suspect, as you said now, in custody, and his origins and the extent of

the fact that he'd been in Europe for many years as an asylum seeker who was accepted in Sweden as an asylum seeker -- given asylum, and who then

tried to claim it in France, had it rejected because, of course, he'd clearly already had it.

What we know also much more about now all these hours on Zain is tragically about the young victims and of course as you mentioned, he did go through

that park randomly and yet methodically seeking out the youngest children. On the amateur footage that's emerged you can see him almost pushing the

adults aside in order to focus on the children, their ages, and we're talking here about six victims in all, some of them, we're told, between

life and death, Zain, even now. The youngest ones, the four children, are 22 months, two two-year-olds and a three-year-old who were severely,

critically wounded in this attack.

As to his motivations, we await the police investigation, the interviews that will take place. What we are learning from the French media that are

following this, of course, as you can imagine, very closely, so rare, these sorts of attacks that target children here in Europe, that he was a

Christian, he is a Christian Syrian who used his Christianity as part of his asylum application. As to his motives, the police for the time being

and the prosecutors say that he was -- did not appear to be under the influence of any substance, used his Christianity as part of his asylum



As to his motives, the police for the time being and the prosecutors say that he was, did not appear to be under the influence of any substances,

does not appear to have any psychiatric record or troubles. And so, a lot of questions still unanswered, but no terror investigation opened for the

time being. Simply the country looking to wait to hear more about the children involved. In fact, what we've been hearing is from the British

Foreign Secretary, one of those young children was British.


JAMES CLEVERLY, BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY: Also, aware that one of the people, one of the children injured was a British national. We have already

deployed British consular officials who are travelling to the area to make themselves available to support the family. And of course, we stand in

strong solidarity with the people of France at this terrible time.


BELL: It is, of course, Zain, for the families of the children who were so viciously attacked this morning that it will be particularly painful. But

even those who were in the park and not necessarily attacked with the knife or harmed during the police intervention that followed to try and arrest

him, there are of course many victims. And this is what the prosecutor has been emphasizing, shocking scenes that will have left anyone who is there

profoundly traumatized. Zain.

ASHER: Melissa Bell, live for us there. Thank you so much. All right, still to come here. Here's a live look at New York City. Barely see the skyline.

What the hazardous smoke means for people living in much of the U.S. and where that smoke is headed next.

And later, a life-saving mission to get them out of harm's way. Children are rescued from an orphanage in Sudan. The details on their extraordinary

rescue, coming up.


ASHER: All right, take a look at these images. This is New York City right now, as I speak. The smoke from more than 430 wildfires raging across

Canada has been wreaking havoc on the air quality on both sides of the border. It prompted a code red in Philadelphia and forced the cancellation

of events in the Northeastern United States, even briefly causing a ground stop at LaGuardia Airport.

The thick band of hazardous air is moving south and has more than 75 million people in the U.S. under air quality alerts. People are being urged

to stay inside and wear masks if they choose to go outdoors.


Athena Jones is witnessing all of this firsthand with a mask on. She's joining us live now from New York City. I've been obsessively checking the

air quality today. I mean, yesterday was obviously horrendous. I had little ones at home who were coughing. Today seems a little bit better. When are

we gonna get respite, Athena?

ATHENA JONES, CNN U.S. NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi Zain, that's exactly right. Right now, the air quality level is at about the same level that was

24 hours ago, which is unhealthy, particularly for sensitive groups. And it has been kind of difficult to forecast how this is going to go in terms of

the smoke still coming down from Canada, the winds, et cetera.

Officials had been warning that we could see conditions worsen later today. This is the same thing that happened yesterday. You saw things, they were

pretty good, and then they got a lot worse as the day moved on. Take a listen to Mayor Eric Adams talking about what they expect to see in the

coming days and hours.


MAYOR ERIC ADAMS (D-NY), NEW YORK CITY: As of right now, the smoke models are not indicating another large plum over the city, so there's a chance

for significant improvement by tomorrow morning and throughout the day tomorrow.


JONES: And so that is why as of right now, the air quality health advisory has been extended until midnight tonight. We'll see what happens with

tomorrow. But just so you know, I want you to look over my shoulder. This is the East River looking over into Brooklyn. That's lower Brooklyn --

lower Manhattan, that's downtown -- that's lower Brooklyn. You can see the outlines of the buildings and also some details of the buildings, the kind

of details you couldn't see just a few hours ago. And so, it certainly, at least right now, right here, is looking much better than it was late in the

day yesterday. Zain.

ASHER: Yeah, it certainly is. All right, Athena Jones, live for us there, thank you so much. All right, the source of this unprecedented situation,

record-setting wildfires, the worst ever start to wildfire season in Canada's history. Satellite observations show a considerable improvement in

Canadian cities including Ottawa, Montreal, and Toronto are all reporting a rise in air quality, as well. But not before 11,000 people were forced to

evacuate their homes in Quebec, just one province hit hard by the fires.

For more on how Canada is coping, let's bring in Steven Guilbeault. He's the Canadian Minister of Environment and Climate Change and joins us live

now from Ottawa.

Stephen, thank you so much for being with us, Minister. So grateful to have you on today and I'm so sorry for everything that your country is dealing

with right now.

STEVEN GUILBEAULT, CANADIAN ENVIRONMENT MINISTER: Okay. Thank you, Zain, so glad to be here.

ASHER: When you think about the situation on the ground, I mean, this is the worst wildfire season in Canada's history between March and June, you

had over 2000 wildfires raging. And also, it is affecting a broad area of the country. I mean, when you think about the provinces affected, it's

Alberta, it's Nova Scotia, it's Quebec, it's British Columbia. Just set the scene for us in terms of what people are dealing with on the ground and the

situation across the country right now in terms of these wildfires.

GUILBEAULT: Yes, thank you, Zain. Well, compared to national average, what we're seeing now is 10 times worse in terms of area affected. And right

now, over the last few days, the forest fires, the areas that have been burned, would be the equivalent in the U.S. of a state like Tennessee or


So, we're talking about 40,000 square kilometers of fires across the country. I was speaking to a minister in the northwest territories who was

telling me that we've never seen anything like it. There's still ice on the lakes in the very northern part of our countries, and yet we're still

seeing forest fires. So, it is a very dire situation.

And the projection from our scientists are that we will have very hot and dry conditions all the way through the end of June, July, most likely

August, as well. So, it is likely going to be a very difficult summer for us here in Canada. But unfortunately for many other people, and as we were

saying, millions of Americans who are currently suffering from poor air quality.

ASHER: It's interesting because typically when there are wildfires raging in a particular province, let's say Nova Scotia is dealing with wildfires,

the sort of set thing to do would be to bring in firefighters from other Canadian provinces. But you're in this unique situation right now where

every province, almost every province, has their hands full.

I know that Trudeau spoke with President Biden. The U.S. is going to send about 600 additional firefighters from this side of the border. Just walk

us through what additional help you need from the international community.

GUILBEAULT: You are correct in saying that it is unprecedented that we have so many different parts of the countries who are battling force fires at

the same time.


So, we've already deployed members of the Canadian Armed Forces to support many of our regions, provinces, but we need outside help. And we're very

thankful for the U.S. government and the American people for sending in help. We've also received help in forms of firefighters from South Africa,

New Zealand, Australia, some are on their way from France.

It is an exceptional situation. And usually, I mean, Canada will lend firefighters to countries like the U.S. and European countries, Australia,

for example, but this year, clearly, we are the ones who need help from many of our partners and allies.

ASHER: Some of the provincial governments are actually giving about $500 to individual families who have been forced to evacuate their homes. There's

donations, matching donations set up as well from the Canadian government. Just explain to us what people who have been forced to leave their homes at

this point, what is their greatest need right now?

GUILBEAULT: It is quite tragic. I mean, you spoke about 11,000 people just in Quebec. We're talking about tens of thousands of people who have been

forced to evacuate their homes. Sometimes we've had to evacuate communities, especially indigenous communities that had to be airlifted

because the fires were coming so quickly.

And in some cases, people or families have been evacuated more than once, twice up to three times because the fires have progressed so rapidly and so

aggressively across their region. So, there is --Red Cross is obviously supporting many of those families, the federal government. We have disaster

assistance funds that are available for municipalities, for our provinces.

And one of this fund is an $8 billion fund, which is a lot of money in Canadian terms, that's been around since 1970 for the specific purpose of

supporting people in case of extreme weather events. The most unbelievable thing about this fund is that we've spent 75 percent of it in the last six

years. So, there is a clear increase in the severity, intensity of natural catastrophes. And we're seeing that in Canada, as we're seeing it around

the world.

We have entered the era of climate change. And the forest fires that we're seeing is a prime example of that. In the last year, we've had in Canada's

history, so we're heading into the worst summer for forest fires. We have had the worst hurricane on our Atlantic coast, just last year a few months


We had record level atmospheric rivers which you've also seen in California. We had that in British Columbia last year. All of these

catastrophes are historic, and they haven't happened in the last 20 years or the last 10 years or the last four years. They all have in the course of

the last year in Canada.

ASHER: It's unbelievable, you know, how many people are being affected by it. I mean much of this week, you know, I have been unable to breathe like

many Americans unable to breathe sort of clean air like many Americans. Seventy-five million people under air quality alerts. All right, Steven

Guilbeault, Canadian Minister for Environment and Climate Change, thank you so much.

Coming up here on One World, the man who made headlines in connection with the disappearance of an American teenager is heading to the U.S. We'll

explain after the break.




ASHER: Hello and welcome back to One World. Let's catch up on the headlines. The U.S. Agency for International Development says it's

suspending food aid to Ethiopia because its donations are not reaching those in need. An investigation reportedly uncovered a scheme to divert the

food to the country's military units. The decision could impact more than 20 million people.

Clashes broke out after Israeli forces staged a rare raid into the West Bank town of Ramallah. Israel says the operation targeted and blew up the

home of a man accused in bombings in Jerusalem last year that killed two people. The Palestinian Health Ministry says at least six people were

wounded, including a Palestinian journalist.

In the coming hours, an FBI plane will land in Alabama carrying Joran van der Sloot from Peru. Back in 2005, he was under intense scrutiny in the

disappearance of American teen Natalie Holloway in Aruba. While he hasn't been charged in the girl's disappearance, he does face charges for

allegedly extorting Holloway's family. Our Jean Casarez joins us live now from Birmingham, Alabama with the very latest. Jean.

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good afternoon. Well, Joran van der Sloot is in the custody of U.S. officials. He is on an FBI executive jet. This is

the jet that is used to transport foreign people that are in custody. It is on its way right here to Birmingham Airport in Birmingham, Alabama.

I want to tell you how the day started. At around 7 AM on Eastern Time, van der Sloot, who had been transported from Chayapalca Prison, maximum

security prison in the Andes, all the way down to Lima to be ready for today. He's been -- had been held at that Lima prison. And at 7 o'clock

this morning, Interpol came and took them into their custody.

We do understand that they had doctors with them that performed several medical tests, including a COVID test. It was Interpol that then

transferred him to Lima's Air Force Base and at that air force bases, when the United States FBI took them into custody, we were also learning that

the FBI has a doctor with them. About three and a half hours ago, they were airborne, on their way to Birmingham, Alabama. Why Birmingham? It is

because Natalie Holloway, whose hometown was here in Birmingham, was last seen with Joran van der Sloot in 2010 when she was on a high school

graduation party in Aruba.

She has since been declared dead. He has never been charged with her murder. But in 2010, her mother -- and according to prosecutors, van der

Sloot extorted thousands of dollars from Natalie's mother because he promised to tell her where the remains of Natalie were. He later emailed

saying it was all a lie, and that's when the extortion charges and the wire fraud charges came out of the U.S. Attorney's office right here in Alabama.

ASHER: All right, Jean Casarez, live for us there. Thank you so much. We want to focus now on the plight of children caught in the middle of the

conflict in Sudan as two warring generals battle for power for an eighth week. Aid groups engaged in a life-saving mission to get about 300 babies

and children out of an orphanage in Khartoum on Wednesday.


Since the start of the conflict, a life-saving mission to get about 300 babies and children out of an orphanage in Khartoum on Wednesday. Since the

start of the conflict, dozens of children at the facility have died because of lack of healthcare and malnutrition during the unrest. One U.N. official

says the evacuation offered a ray of light in the midst of the ongoing conflict.

The children, some as young as one month old, were taken to a safer location southeast of Khartoum. UNICEF says that almost 14 million children

are in urgent need of humanitarian support. In Sudan, that's the highest number ever recorded in the country.

Time now for the exchange. Joining me live now is Catherine Russell. She's the executive director of UNICEF and joins me from New York. Catherine,

thank you so much for being with us. When you think about some of the unique challenges facing the most vulnerable people in a war zone,

children, especially orphans, just walk us through what they're dealing with and also what UNICEF is doing on the ground and in the surrounding

areas of Khartoum to assist.

CATHERINE RUSSELL, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, UNICEF: Well, hello, Zain. And first, I think the interesting thing about this case is it illustrates the

really dreadful situation for children and some small bit of hope, right? The dreadful part is that these children were in an orphanage in Khartoum

where they were essentially cut off because of the conflict.

And they were shelling back and forth, fighting, electricity was disrupted, water was disrupted. And so, what happens? These children get ill, they

don't have access to medical services. We think, essentially, you know, they were so malnourished that they died.

And as you said, estimates are around 60 children. That's very -- we're never quite sure until we know at the end of the day what things look like.

But in any case, terrible situation for children. Now, we were able, through our partners, ICRC and others, to help get these children moved to

a better location, and we're taking care of them there.

But I think this example really illustrates how terrible war is for children in any circumstance. I was at conference over the weekend where we

were talking about how 400 million children around the world are impacted by conflict and it's an astounding number and it means children are either

being killed directly, being maimed, being abducted, being sexually assaulted.

I mean terrible things happen to children all around the world and I think, you know, it's important for the world to take a minute and to say, you

know, war is the is the sort of conduct of adults, right? They need to make sure that children are protected and that's not happening in far too many

cases. And I think this is a good example of that.

ASHER: For this particular case, how hard was it to get security guarantees from the warring factions so that these children could be evacuated safely?

RUSSELL: It's very difficult. You know, it's interesting. I met a couple of weeks ago, I was in Kenya. And I met with some of our staff who had been in

Sudan. And they explained to me just how horrifying it was to be there, because there was so much. There were sort of artillery shells coming,

fighting, just on the street, opportunistic fighting, sexual violence being conducted against people.

I think it's just a devastating situation, so, for us trying to make sure that children around the country have access - services, is incredibly

difficult, right? And it's something where I mean honestly the humanitarian workers who were there are so brave and so committed to trying to help

children that they do amazing things. But at the end of the day, as long as there is war, as long as there is conflict, it's going to be incredibly

challenging for children to survive.

ASHER: And when you think about it, I mean, obviously, you know, a huge feat evacuating this group of children out of Khartoum, but just because

they are out of Khartoum doesn't necessarily mean they're out of the woods in terms of safety. There are so many issues when it comes to, you know,

for example, food security across the country that children are dealing with right now, access to medical facilities. Just walk us through that

aspect of the story, as well, in terms of the other uphill battles that these children are facing.

RUSSELL: No, you're exactly right, Zain. I think there are a couple things that happened. One is, we see populations starting to move, and millions of

people inside the country have been displaced, right? Moving to try and get away from the violence. Millions have left the country, which is also

terrible, because they're in surrounding countries that have some, you know, varying degrees of ability to support these populations.

So, essentially, children, their whole lives are disrupted, and children in particular are dependent on government services. So, what does that mean?

They mean they need government services for water. They need government services for education. They need government services often for medical

care. All of that is disrupted, right?


So, children, because they're so vulnerable to these disruptions, they're dramatically impacted by this. And it's hard to think about, you know, in

the course war, all sorts of terrible things happen, and I think, too often, children are left behind and forgotten that they are directly

impacted and that the long-term consequences of that for countries is absolutely devastating, and of course, obviously, devastating for those

children and their families. We hope that we can get to as many children as possible, but until conflict stops, it's just always going to be an uphill


ASHER: And can we also talk about just how heroic some of the staff at these orphanages have been just in terms of using their own transportation

vehicles, using their own money at times to get these children out. They've been star players in this, as well.

RUSSELL: They absolutely have. And I have to say, you know, across the board, it's the interesting thing about this work, right? You see the worst

of humanity, which is people assaulting children, making children's lives a living hell, killing children, you know, maiming

children. But you also see this incredible outpouring of support for children.

And that can be people on the ground who are risking their own lives to help them, doing their best every day to try to make sure that children

have access to medical services, that they get some food, that they get water, that they're not starving to death in these situations. And also,

people around the world who support that work, who understand what it means for a child to live through something like this and very much want to

respond and pay attention and see if they can be helpful.

ASHER: All right, Catherine Russell, thank you so much. We appreciate it. All right, still to come here, a major coup for Major League Soccer, Lionel

Messi is bringing the heat to South Florida. You'll hear the details of this incredible deal after the break.


ASHER: America's top diplomat is in Saudi Arabia on a mission aimed at smoothing relations. At a meeting in Riyadh, Antony Blinken said the U.S.

would give nearly $150 million for areas liberated from ISIS in Syria and Iraq. It comes a day after he sat down with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin

Salman. Blinken is trying to mend ties frayed by disagreements over oil prices, human rights and other issues, as well. CNN's Nic Robertson has



NIC ROBERTSON, CNN DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice-over): Whether it's gobbling up golf rights or signing yet another global soccer star or setting oil price

trends, Saudi cutting production by one million barrels a day or in diplomacy.


Secretary of State Antony Blinken's three-day visit, many, many roads now seem to lead to Riyadh. U.S. relations with the desert kingdom have been

rocky. President Biden making democracy and human rights a core issue, but increasingly, Saudi's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman setting his own


Blinken hoping to thwart U.S.-Saudi tensions and build on recent cooperation, hoping both Yemen and Sudan end internal conflicts. Ahead of

his arrival, Blinken putting Israel on his agenda, too.

ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: The United States has a real national security interest in promoting normalization between Israel and

Saudi Arabia.

ROBERTSON: Blinken's days-long visit, meeting not just Saudi officials, but regional and other diplomats, too, discussing ISIS in Africa and Asia, and

likely Iran's nuclear enrichment program, as well as Russia's war in Ukraine. All point to Saudi's growing influence.

Monday, the crown prince hosted Venezuela's President. Tuesday, Iran reopened its diplomatic mission in Riyadh, thanks in part to bin Salman's

strengthening ties with China. Last month, he hosted Ukraine's President Zelensky. Whether diplomacy or sport, MBS is thinking big, eye-poppingly

big. Listen to the Saudi Private Investment Fund governor, who bankrolled

Saudi's LIV golf tour, explain Saudi's growing influence in the world of golf.

YASIR AL-RUMAYYAN, SAUDI PIF GOVERNOR: The size of golf, monetary-wise, is about 100 billion today. And I think the growth is there.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): From Formula One, to boxing, to music festivals, MBS is reimagining his kingdom, offering his population entertainment

unimaginable a decade ago, when religious conservatives he banished held sway. At home, his rebranding of Saudi Arabia has gained traction, albeit

detractors risk jail if they speak out. Significantly, however, he has yet to persuade the world, he can be trusted. Nic Robertson, CNN, London.


ASHER: The world's greatest living football player is coming to America. Lionel Messi, now bound for South Florida as the newest member of Inter

Miami. The 35-year-old legend from Argentina, made the news official on Wednesday while acknowledging the deal is not 100 percent complete World


Don Riddell is following this bombshell news that is still reverberating throughout the sport. So, you think about Messi, I mean, he's 36, but also

a phenomenal player. What will this mean for Major League Soccer and what has the reaction been?

DON RIDDELL, CNN WORLD SPORT: Yeah, I mean he is still a phenomenal player despite his age, of course he just won the World Cup. I saw him do it in

Qatar just a few months ago with Argentina. I mean the reaction is absolutely seismic.

We knew he was on the move, he finished up at Paris Saint Germain just a few days ago. Saudi Arabia was the favorite destination but he said if he

wanted to make a move that was all about money, that's where he'd have gone. He's chosen differently. To paraphrase LeBron James, he is taking his

talents to South Beach.

And the reaction in the United States is just off the charts. It's been absolutely fascinating watching the social media accounts, the follower

numbers on the Inter Miami Instagram page go from one million to five million. That is more than any NFL team, baseball team, NHL team here.

And it's also been fascinating looking at the ticket prices for the games upcoming this season, where Messi, we now imagine, will be playing. So, for

example, Inter Miami, they're going to be playing Atlanta United later this year. That's the team that's right next door to this studio here in


I was surrounded by fans in the office yesterday who were all wondering whether they should sell their tickets or obviously whether they'd rather

be there to watch the game in person. But tickets that would have been going for about 300 bucks for that game are now going for 3,000, which I

think just tells you everything you need to know about the excitement surrounding Messi's move here to the United States and it's huge for Major

League Soccer.

ASHER: Of course, he did point out that the deal isn't 100 percent complete. We still don't know when he's going to be debuting, but exciting

news for MLS, nonetheless. All right, Don Riddell, live for us, thank you so much. All right, still to come here, the "Little Mermaid" is a hit in

many countries, but in parts of Asia, it has actually been sinking. There are signs a racist backlash may, in fact, be to blame and there could be

more rough waters ahead. That story, next.




ASHER: Disney's new live-action movie, The Little Mermaid, is sinking at the box office in China and South Korea. The remake has grossed less than

$5 million in each country since it was released in late May. The chilly reception comes as viewers in both countries question the choice of actress

Harley Bailey as the star of the movie in what is being seen as a racist backlash. CNN's Kristie Lu Stout has more.


KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: "The Little Mermaid" is dramatically underperforming in China and South Korea amid racist critiques. Like

actress Halle Bailey has been praised for her star-making turn as the main character Ariel, but apparently it's not enough to win over certain would-

be viewers in China and South Korea who can't get over the fact that Disney cast her in the role. The film has found success in many countries around

the world. According to Comscore, the film has made $327 million globally, but China, the world's second box office has contributed a paltry amount.

According to NData, this is the Chinese box office tracker, in mainland China, the film made only $2.7 million in its first five days. And compare

that to Spider-Man Across the Spider-Verse, which brought in nearly $20 million in the first five days of opening.

Now, some in mainland China have shared their objections online. One that is in on Maoyan, it's a Chinese box office platform, said that the fairy

tale that I grew up with has changed beyond recognition. And Chinese state media has encouraged such reactions. In fact, an op-ed published right

before the film's debut in China in the Global Times said this, quote, the controversy surrounding Disney's forced inclusion of minorities in classic

films is not about racism, but it's lazy and irresponsible storytelling strategy, unquote.

Disney declined to comment. Similar reaction has been found online in South Korea, with one user saying the movie had been, quote, ruined, along with

the hashtag, not my Ariel. According to the Korean Film Council in South Korea, "The Little Mermaid" attracted some 472,000 viewers in its first

week and compared that to the near 643,000 fans that showed up for the latest Fast and Furious sequel over the same period. Kristie Lu Stout, CNN,

Hong Kong.


ASHER: All right, Kristie Lu Stout there. In West Africa, a popular rap artist can now claim the title of champion for education in Burkina Faso.


Burkina Faso rapper, Hughes Guba, aka Hugo Boss. Popular rap artist can now claim the title of Champion for Education in Burkina Faso. Burkina, rapper,

Hughes Guba, aka Hugo Boss, is using money from his concert sales to help fund the construction of schools in villages. Conflict in this West African

nation system has left the school system critically impaired.


HUGUES GOUBA, BURKINABE RAPPER (through translator): We decided to mobilize fans and music lovers around a project to host a concert that will lead to

the construction of a school. This mobilization was done by the fans who endorsed the project. We decided to buy tickets and also the companies who

paid for and sponsored tickets so that all this crowd could come here.

ASHER: You're looking at the construction of one school already in progress. Thanks to the rapper's generous donation. All right. Thank you so

much for watching One World. I'm Zain Asher. Amanpour is up next. You're watching CNN.