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Hala Gorani Tonight
Pentagon: Multiple Gates Now Open At Kabul Airport; Reuters Reports At Least 12 People Have Been Killed In And Around Kabul Airport; Pakistan Opens Both Major Border Crossings For Refugees; Chaos, Confusion And Fear At Kabul Airport; Taliban Say They Defeated "Powerful And Arrogant" U.S.; Haiti Death Toll Tops 2,000 As Anger Grows Over Lack Of Aid; U.K. Prime Minister Faces Accusations Of Abandoning Afghanistan To Taliban; Interpreter Denied U.S. Visa After Work With Marines. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired August 19, 2021 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, I'm Isa Soares in London in for Hala Gorani. Tonight, we continue our coverage of the fall of Afghanistan.
This hour, we are expecting a briefing from the U.S. State Department, and will, of course, bring you that to you live as soon as it begins. Now, the
U.S. military says multiple gates are now open at the Kabul airport to speed up really, evacuation efforts, but thousands of Afghans trying to
flee Taliban rule endured another terrifying wait today at the airport perimeter only to be turned away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: Now, "Reuters" reports at least 12 people have been killed in and around Kabul's airport since Sunday. Some by stampedes, others by gunfire.
And here's another look at large crowds gathered at an airport entrance. The Pentagon says U.S. fighter jets have carried out armed flights over
Kabul to ensure security amid the evacuation efforts. It says the U.S. has flown out some 7,000 people since Saturday.
And to underscore just how hard it is to get -- for Afghans to get out on those flights, even though local staff of the U.S. Embassy had trouble
reaching the airport today, some turned back including one staffer who waited for hours on the outskirts with his family, saying he feared for
their lives as men with guns and knives roamed the crowd. CNN's Clarissa Ward is in Kabul with more for you at this hour.
CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): So, I spoke to an American who was at the airport earlier this morning. And he
said the crowds, and you can see it there in those photographs, the crowds are enormous today. A huge amount of Afghans.
Some of them, you know, a lot of them waiting patiently for an opportunity that will likely never present itself because the Taliban and also, I
should say, Afghan commandos who are working with the U.S. forces are basically not really allowing Afghan people, even if they have the
appropriate paperwork, to pass and get into the airport.
And we have heard multiple reports of violence being used against people who are trying to push in there, as well as what we saw yesterday on the
ground with Taliban fighters carrying truncheons, carrying whips, firing into the crowd. We're also hearing about those Afghan commandos, special
forces working with the U.S., also meting out some pretty tough justice or not tough justice, just being brutal basically. Beating people, pushing
them back. Shots being fired.
So, it continues to be a very chaotic situation at that airport. I also heard from this American, he said it was extraordinary. There was a long
line of cars that had simply been abandoned. Families were driving up, getting out and leaving their cars behind as they tried their luck at the
airport. The reality is though, from everything we've seen and everything we're seeing today, that they will probably need to get back in those cars
and drive back home because it just does not seem that this impasse has been resolved in any way, shape or form.
And the understanding that we have is that basically, the priority right now is just for westerners. So, if you're an American, then it might be
your lucky day and you might be able to get out. But if you are an Afghan who worked with the Americans for the last 15 years, then you are probably
out of luck today.
SOARES: Well, Clarissa mentioned some violence she and her crew have witnessed on the streets of Kabul. She filed this incredible report late
last -- late yesterday, giving us really a firsthand look. Take a look.
WARD (voice-over): America's last foot-fold in Afghanistan is now guarded by the Taliban.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: See, the Taliban are all over and they won't allow anyone.
WARD: We've come to Kabul's airport to see the gauntlet people must pass through to fly out.
(on camera): You can hear gunshots every couple of minutes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: CNN --
WARD (voice-over): Quickly, we are accosted by an angry Taliban fighter.
(on camera): Can I ask you a question? Excuse me --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He says first --
WARD: Cover my face?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cover.
WARD: I've covered my face. What is this? What is that? He told me to cover my face, but he doesn't want to comment on that truncheon he's carrying.
(voice-over): The fighter tells us these chaotic scenes are the fault of America. "Because of all this, is America and Afghanistan. Look at these
people", he says, "America is really acting unfairly towards them. Why are they lying and telling them that they can go to America?
Why don't they let them stay and help their country?"
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He doesn't want to talk to you.
WARD (on camera): OK, he doesn't want to talk to me, that's fine. All right.
(voice-over): We keep walking to avoid confrontation. A man follows us asking for advice.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How I can enter the base --
WARD (on camera): How you can enter the base?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because they are sending me e-mail, that's why?
WARD: Do you have paperwork --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes --
WARD: To enter?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To enter, no.
WARD: Show me --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But I have e-mail, they're calling me.
WARD: Was this an Italian company?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, Italian company, Herat.
WARD: OK, let's -- I don't want these guys with you --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, thank you --
WARD: All right --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
WARD (voice-over): Others crowd around us to show their documents.
(on camera): Camp Phoenix. You worked for --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes --
WARD: Camp Phoenix?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here's my HR letter --
WARD: Yes, you were a translator?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes --
WARD: OK --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, you see this?
WARD: Yes, Camp Victor --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There will be a letter --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From them -- they're telling them --
WARD: So, they're saying they all worked at American camps --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, were you --
WARD: As translators for the Americans, and they can't get into that airport. These Taliban fighters are a little upset with us, we decide to
leave and head for our car.
(voice-over): The fighter takes the safety of his AK-47 and pushes through the crowd.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stay behind him, stay behind him.
WARD (on camera): You can see that some of these Taliban fighters, they're just copped-out on adrenaline, I don't-know-what, it's a very dicey
(voice-over): Suddenly, two other Taliban charge toward us, you can see their rifle, but raised to strike producer Ben Swales(ph). When the
fighters are told we have permission to report, they lower their weapons and let us pass. Clarissa Ward, CNN, Kabul.
SOARES: And still to come this hour, we'll take you inside the airport grounds to hear about the difficulties on that side of the barb wire. Nick
Paton Walsh was on an evacuation flight, and he will join us live a bit later in the show.
Now, the Kabul mayor did not flee the city when it fell to the Taliban like the president of Afghanistan did. The mayor says the Taliban asked him to
stay on the job. And he told CNN today, why he decided it was worth the risk. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR MOHAMMAD DAOUD SULTANZOY, KABUL, AFGHANISTAN: One's safety is a relative issue for everybody, people have their own level of tolerance and
their own level of risks. For me, I may be in danger, but I'm not running away. I'm in this with my country. Where should I go? Where do you want me
Just go and hang on, on the landing gear of an airplane and leave the country? No. We are here or if we don't stay and we create the void, then
who are going to be the advocates? Who are going to be talking about rights and liberties and other things that we want from the Taliban.
We want a government, an inclusive government. We want a society that enforces 21st century norms. We want a country that is in partnership with
international community. And these things need advocacy, and those advocates should be people who want to stay in this country and advocate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: Well, U.S. President Joe Biden is defiantly defending America's chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan. And he's pushing back on criticism
that it should have been much more safe and orderly. In an interview with "ABC News", the president vowed to get all the remaining Americans out of
Kabul, even if it means extending the August 31st deadline. And he said there was no way the U.S. departure could have been handled any better.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS: You don't think this could have been handled -- this actually could have been handled better in any way, no
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, I don't think it could have been handled in a way that -- we're going to go back in hindsight and look,
but the idea that somehow there's a way to have gotten out without chaos ensuing, I don't know how that happens. I don't know how that happened.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: Let's talk more about this. CNN's Kaitlan Collins and Stephen Collinson join me now. And we're expecting a State Department briefing, so
apologies in advance if I have to interrupt. But Kaitlan, let's start with you.
We heard President Joe Biden there sounding defiant and unapologetic going as far to say that the exit could not have gotten -- could not have been
handled any better. But the scenes we've seen on the ground paint a very different picture. How are Democrats, Kaitlan, processing what they are
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, they are plainly admitting it's chaos. You heard Mazie Hirono saying earlier on CNN
that, that is what you're seeing. If you're actually looking at what's going on, you can see, this is a chaotic situation. And maybe President
Biden is right.
There is no way to leave without chaos ensuing, but that is not what President Biden has been saying for the last several weeks and the last
several months. Even dating back to April when he formally announced that this is the path the United States was going to take.
He said it would not be a hasty run for the exit, that it would be deliberate and slow and safely done. And, of course, what we've seen over
the last few days has been anything but. A lot of that has to do with what President Biden says is a change in the Intelligence, essentially that they
did not believe the Taliban could take over as quickly as they did. And that's a message now being echoed by the joint -- the chairman of the Joint
Chiefs of Staff over at the Pentagon, General Mark Milley who said yesterday that he saw no Intelligence that this could happen within 11
Where the Taliban took over and the Afghan army collapsed. But I still think this is going to have a lot of questions, given you've seen this tone
that the president has taken. And that is very much not what you were seeing from Democrats who were saying, they are going to have hearings into
this because they want to find out why this went so wrong.
SOARES: Yes, and Stephen, I was speaking earlier today to former MP Rory Stewart who said that -- and I'm going to read it here. "What makes me
sad", he said, he's hearing President Biden "who I had enormous admiration for speaking with such little compassion and sympathy for the Afghan
people. I would like to see an American president acknowledging at the moment the extraordinary suffering." How damaging is this, Steven, for
President Biden abroad because it's definitely -- he's definitely taking a beating.
STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: I think so. You know, President Biden is known for his empathy. That's one of his core political
assets forged through a life of personal tragedy. It's very interesting that he's not showing that degree of compassion, not just to Afghanistan as
a country, but even those translators and workers who worked with the United States over this 20 years in Afghanistan. And it appears very likely
that some or if not many of these people are going to be left behind.
I think it is an expression of what you might call Biden's America first approach. His National Security adviser explained that this week, Jake
Sullivan, basically saying that, you know, in order to stop more Afghan bloodshed, we would have to send more American troops, and the American
troops will be doing the dying, and the president isn't going to do that.
But I think, politically, you saw that debate in the U.K. parliament yesterday. This has done enormous damage to President Biden's image, and
he, of course, was seen in Europe and many other places around the world as the exact antidote to much of the anti-Americanism that was fostered abroad
during the Trump administration.
So, I think it is very damaging. And this, of course, was a president who said America is back on his first trip to Europe as president last year.
The way that the United States is leaving Afghanistan, it is perpetuating this narrative of retreat and defeat, and that, of course, is also having
SOARES: I'm going to have to interrupt. I'm going to take -- sorry to interrupt. I'm going to take you to the State Department. Let's listen in.
NED PRICE, SPOKESMAN, DEPARTMENT OF STATE, UNITED STATES: Since August 14th, we've airlifted 7,000 total evacuees. I can also confirm there are
6,000 people at the airport right now who have been fully processed by our consular team and will soon board planes. Overnight, we significantly
expanded how many American citizens, locally employed staff, SIV applicants and other vulnerable Afghans who are eligible for departure, and we offered
them to consider transit to the airport. We're aware of congestion around the airport.
We are working closely with the Department of Defense to facilitate safe and orderly access for consular processing on the airport compound. U.S.
military and other country flights continued throughout the last 24 hours. And American citizens and legal permanent residents will be given the first
opportunity to board with other priority groups filling in seats from there. We're continuing to rapidly deploy additional consular officers to
ensure we can -- to ensure we can welcome Americans and others and will continue to do so over the coming days.
The department is sending consular staffing teams to Qatar and Kuwait to assist with the transit effort, and we're preparing teams to surge to other
processing locations as well. Additional consular officers have also now landed in Kabul and we will nearly double the number of consular officers
on the ground by tomorrow, by Friday. I can also announce that Ambassador Bass arrived in Kabul this morning to lead logistics coordination and
consular efforts within the personnel who remain at the airport.
As you heard Secretary Sherman say yesterday, our diplomatic and military personnel are working in lockstep towards the same goal. And that is to get
as many people who want to leave Afghanistan and who are vulnerable to Taliban reprisals because they helped the United States and our allies and
partners or who are otherwise at risk because of who they are or what they do or what they believe out of the country as quickly as possible. Our
diplomats around the world are tirelessly engaging with their counterparts to ensure transit and passage for Americans.
Vulnerable Afghans and others. This is absolutely an all-hands-on-deck effort to ensure the safety of our personnel and citizens, rally our allies
and partners and organize the evacuation of thousands and thousands of individuals.
Additionally, Secretary Blinken spoke today with the G7 foreign ministers, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, United Kingdom and the high
representative of the European Union to discuss the situation in Afghanistan. All leaders underscored the imperative of safe passage for
those who wish to leave Afghanistan, and the need for an inclusive political resolution that protects the fundamental human rights of all
The leaders agreed that the international community's relationship with the Taliban will depend on their actions and not their words. Secretary Blinken
and the G7 foreign ministers also exchanged views on counterterrorism, on humanitarian efforts, refugee migration, and they agreed to remain in close
contact on all fronts going forward. Secretary Blinken thanked his foreign counterparts for their steadfast commitment to supporting the Afghan
people. With that, I am happy to turn to your questions.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, can I ask you -- this is an extremely logistical question and I hope that it will be a very short answer. So, does Operation
Allies Refuge now include all of the categories of people who can go out? That means SIVs, P1, P2, and this other at-risk category or does it still
just apply -- does that term "allies refuge" just only apply to SIVs?
PRICE: So, Operation Allies Refuge is a --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People are getting briefed on different things all over town.
PRICE: Understood. It is a military operation. "Operation Allies Refuge", it was a term coined by the Pentagon. So, I need to refer you there to
speak precisely to what that operation now entails. But what I will say more broadly of course, is that Operation Allies Refuge in the first
instance was an effort, an air-lift operation, unprecedented air-lift operation that no other administration either in the -- no, but I'll get
there -- but that no other administration, either in the Afghan context or --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can pat yourself on the back all you want. I just want to know, does it include all these categories now or is it just the
PRICE: Matt, it was in the first instance, an air-lift operation for SIVs.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now?
PRICE: Now, of course, what we're doing is offering an air-lift operation. We're in the midst of an air-lift operation for American citizens, for
locally employed staff members, for SIVs, for vulnerable Afghans.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The entire evacuation effort is Operation Allies Refuge?
PRICE: My point was that you'll need to talk to DOD to understand exactly what OAR encompasses, but obviously, we have a vast air-lift operation
ongoing now that encompasses all of those categories.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me just come in and say that you don't. Secondly, and I realize --
SOARES: Now, you have been listening to Ned Price, the U.S. State Department's spokesman. Let me give you some headlines from what he said.
He said "since August the 14th, 7,000 people have been evacuated. He said 6,000 people are being processed right now, he said at the airport and are
waiting to board a plane.
They are sending consular teams to Qatar and Kuwait, and they have sent additional consular officers already arrived in Kabul. He said all hands
are on deck, and then he added that international relations depends on Taliban's actions and not their words.
Let me take you to Stephen Collinson who I was talking to before the State Department briefing. And Stephen, I don't know if you heard what Ned Price
had to say there. But it's -- you know, it's clear that they're ramping up, at least it seems like the numbers, but clearly, not meeting the capacity
that we heard from the Pentagon today which was between 5,000 and 9,000 people being evacuated.
COLLINSON: Yes, that's right. And it almost seems rather a self- congratulatory tone about the size of --
SOARES: Yes --
COLLINSON: This air-lift that was going on there, despite the fact that this has been a real debacle. You're right. The number of 7,000 since
Saturday, I think, Ned Price said, and then further 6,000 inside the airport waiting to be processed. That's not that impressive, given the
magnitude of the task of getting many more thousands of people out. And the fact that the Pentagon said it hopes to have the capacity to shift between
5,000 and 9,000 per day. Pretty clear that those numbers of people are not able to get into the airport in Kabul.
And you know, what is being said in Washington, some of it for political reasons because the administration is under real pressure inside Washington
for its performance on this air-lift, seems to be completely at odds with the reporting of Clarissa Ward and other pictures we're seeing out of Kabul
about these people, especially Afghans who have worked for the United States and NATO allies, just can't get to the airport.
And the problem that the United States is going to have, and it was admitted basically in a briefing at the Pentagon yesterday was that they
don't have enough troops on the ground to widen the perimeter of that airport, to hold the airport and go out and try and get some of these
Americans in Kabul and elsewhere, and make it easier for them to get into the airport.
So, they're basically relying totally on diplomacy with the Taliban. So, while this is an upbeat message from Washington, it doesn't really seem to
equate with what's happening on the ground. I mean, you might say that's the theme of the entire U.S. operation in Afghanistan for the last two
decades, in fact.
SOARES: Yes, and really, we don't know also why -- what the limiting factors are. Why not, why they can't get 9,000 people. Is it the
processing? Is it the gates? Is it people going to airports? Is it security? The Pentagon hasn't been able to talk about that, and really
stood out to me, Stephen, very quickly, was the fact that Pentagon earlier today couldn't even say how many Americans were left in Afghanistan.
COLLINSON: Right. And that's extraordinary. And although, the president has said he's prepared for this operation to go on past August the 31st, if you
don't even know how many Americans there are, not just in Kabul, but elsewhere in Afghanistan and the Taliban control, how are you going to know
that you haven't left anyone behind?
Let alone all of these translators and workers. So, it seems very likely that even as the administration is trying to cool the political fires on
this in Washington, it's going to get to a point sometime in the next few weeks, unless the situation improves drastically, when it's leaving
Afghanistan and there are Americans or Afghans who fear reprisals because of their link to the United States behind.
And that's going to be a hugely damaging scenario for the United States and also a humanitarian disaster for those people involved.
SOARES: Indeed. Stephen Collinson for us in Washington, thanks, Stephen, great to see you --
SOARES: Still to come tonight, Pakistan helps evacuate people from Afghanistan as fears over refugee crisis loom. We speak to the country's
permanent representative to the U.N. That's ahead.
SOARES: Now, confusion, fear and heartbreak.
Today, we've been on the ground in Afghanistan, bringing you the chaotic scenes at Kabul airport. Neighboring Pakistan says its national airline is
helping evacuate several nationalities with 1,100 people flown out in the last two days. Concerns of the knock-on humanitarian security crisis is
grave for Pakistan. However, the interior minister says no refugees have entered Pakistan yet. Let's bring in Ambassador Munir Akram; the permanent
representative of Pakistan to United Nations, joins me now from United Nations headquarters.
Ambassador, thank you very much for taking the time to speak to us here on the show. Let me start off with the news that Pakistan has been able, of
course, to evacuate those -- a thousand or so people. We saw -- we've been seeing the images on the ground, chaotic, terrifying. How challenging has
it been from your side?
MUNIR AKRAM, PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF PAKISTAN TO THE UNITED NATIONS: Well, I think it has -- it is, after all, the fog of war, and it is a
challenging environment. But our embassy is operating. They are processing all applicants for visas or all those who want to utilize Pakistan as a
transit point to leave Afghanistan.
We've -- as you said, we've flown out 1,100 since yesterday. We are flying three flights a day into Kabul airport. So hopefully, we can get out at
least 500, 600 each day out of Kabul. And, of course, there is the land border and those who come to the land border and have been processed and
have visas or other documents that make them eligible to cross over.
We will allow them to leave from there as well. But at the moment, the focus has been on the airport, which is, of course, under U.S. control. And
we are utilizing that to take out as many people as possible.
SOARES: Of those thousand or so you've evacuated and the three planes every day you're evacuating, how many people, ambassador, were from Afghanistan?
If you give me a sense of how many are U.S. citizens or other nationals, and how many are actually seeking refugee and have the paperwork to go to
Afghanistan -- to Pakistan? I apologize.
AKRAM: Right. Most of the people we evacuated have been diplomats, employees of diplomatic missions, employees of international agencies, and
journalists who wanted to leave.
SOARES: Right --
AKRAM: Now, among the employees were some -- a number of Afghans who were employed by these embassies. For example, the Danish Embassy had 450 local
employees who we flew out on our flights. So, it's a question of who applies and who we are told is eligible to leave or wants to leave, and
then we can process them and they can take the flights out. The PIA flights which are coming in every day. Three a day we are flying at the moment.
SOARES: But as you well know, ambassador, those going to the airport trying to escape are only a small percentage of Afghans. The majority have to stay
in the country and face the Taliban. And with that, of course, comes concerns of a humanitarian crisis. You share a border with Afghanistan. Are
you preparing for an influx of refugees?
AKRAM: Well, you know, so far, we have not had the influx of refugees on our borders. There has been the usual traffic. As you know, about 30,000
Afghans crossed the border into Pakistan for legitimate reasons, for work and so forth. But we haven't as yet, fortunately, seen a big refugee inflow
on our border, as such. But you know, if they come, we will, of course, have to deal with that issue.
SOARES: Ambassador, I appreciate taking time to us here on the show. Thank you very much, sir.
AKRAM: Thank you for having me.
SOARES: Still to come tonight, a rare look at the evacuation efforts in Kabul from inside the airport grounds. Nick Paton Walsh will join us live
SOARES: Now it's a journey no one should have to make but far too many do, unfortunately, fleeing your home with nothing but the clothes on your back,
leaving loved ones behind, all in the name of saving your life. This now the reality for far too many Afghans.
Mass ongoing evacuation as we've shown you this hour and throughout on CNN are chaotic and unorganized. Hundreds of people with piles of paperwork are
doing everything they can to simply get out. A dozen people already having lost their life in or near Kabul airport.
Meanwhile, Taliban checkpoints are thinning out potential evacuees. For those who managed to get on a flight, the path forward is completely
unknown. Earlier, I spoke Roya Rahmani. She's the former Afghan ambassador to the United States. Here's what she thinks about the scenes we have been
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROYA RAHMANI, FORMER AFGHAN AMBASSADOR TO THE U.S.: Of course, the fact that so many people are rushing the way they are at the airport is a clear
indication of how confident they are about their future and lives in Afghanistan.
As you were reporting, I am getting direct contact and information from the ground as to what is happening at the airport, as I myself have family
there. And the situation is that all the SIV applicants and all the P-2 visa applicants, all the people who have been applying or have connections
to any other countries and embassies have been somehow told to make their way to the airport and wait there.
Plus, so many other people who have no papers whatsoever have just crowded around the airport, trying their luck. So there is thousands of people
gathering around that and making it impossible for people, who even get calls to be evacuated, to make it to the airport.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: CNN's Nick Paton Walsh has firsthand experience of the chaos around the Kabul airport and the ongoing evacuation efforts. He left and he is now
Nick, talk to our viewers, explain to our viewers exactly what you saw as you made your way into that airport, the streams of people that we have
seen, trying, pushing, trying to get in.
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Yes, it doesn't appear the situation got any better, if not significantly worse since I was there
At that point, the northern road into the airport was sort of considered the hope that maybe you could get down there and get in. But when I arrived
there, the traffic was already crazy.
And the Taliban, frankly, were doing traffic control. It seemed to be to get a large fuel tanker down the road -- actually unclear who that was for.
But when we got to the gate, the fact that I had to maneuver your way through the crowd, people have been there for a period of time, they've
tried, sort of let new people come to the front to try to explain why they should be allowed in.
You catch the eye of a Marine without try to subtly as you can suggest who you are. Then I finally spoke to a Marine over the top of the gate, 10-foot
tall, utterly close. People banging on it. People handing their infant children up to the guards, hoping they'll take them.
I spoke to a Marine inside and said he couldn't possibly let me if because it might start a rush. When you see one person held up and climb over,
everybody's going to try.
And then the Marines will have to use some sort of method if not force, to stop that from happening.
Once you're inside, then there's a filtration process. And, obviously, if you are a foreign citizen like myself, European allies, they would say you
are then allowed through the processing. And then on Tuesday, I have to say, I saw a pretty empty airport. Not the massive scenes of people
They say they're doing 2,000 every 24 hours now. That may have been the case on Tuesday but I didn't witness significant scenes like that. The
plane I flew out on had about 40 to 50 people on it.
But it's the fact that, if you go up the main arterial airport road towards the airport, you run into Taliban on that way, who are often violently
turning back people. I saw as early as Monday them using sticks, whips to push people back.
There was a crowd control issue at that time on the runway itself. Perhaps they were just trying to calm that situation down. But they got more
aggressive shutting down motion toward the airport at all.
And to the north Taliban are in evidence around there. It's simply the volume of people trying to get in who are the problem, sadly. Americans
have a numbers problem on the outside of the base and on the inside of the base.
There are too many trying to get in to be able to get in and too few inside trying to reach their lofty targets of 5,000 to 9,000 every day. It's
shocking and it's so fast developing because someone successfully gets in, they tell everyone outside that they've got in.
And they say how did you manage?
And then people learn. And within minutes, hours, you have more Afghans, even the dangerous situation there, descending on that hole in the fence or
briefly opened gate or that possible chance that there might be a wall you could climb over briefly until the U.S. Marines move in and shut it down.
It's going to carry on like this probably for some time and they work out some sort of way of either talking to the Taliban to open up the channels -
- and the U.S. are saying they are having the discussions they need with the Taliban. It seemed in the press conferences refusing to admit the
Taliban are impeding access to that base.
And so the trouble today, I think, really, has been, as I saw in the base itself, Americans inside the base, unaware of what's happening outside of
it. U.S. officials in Washington giving press conferences about what's happening are even more divorced from that reality.
And sadly, John Kirby at the Pentagon today missing one salient fact about how big and awkward and long this operation could be. He doesn't know how
many Americans are in Afghanistan, who are their priority evacuation target.
If you don't know that, you don't know how long you'll be there for or when you'll call an end to it. So it's essentially an open-ended operation that
may eventually get all the Americans it needs and then will slowly hope to get the tens of thousands of Afghans who've been dripping over the fence,
hundreds or maybe thousands a day if they're lucky.
I hope not because that's going to be very dangerous for the Afghans, outside in the heat, in the danger, in the shots in the air, in the tear
gas at some points today as well. So I hope the plan develops at some point.
SOARES: Yes, I mean, it really surprised me when he was asked how many Americans are left to be evacuated, that he simply did not know the answer.
In the last few minutes, we heard from Ned Price of the U.S. State Department. He said 6,000 people have been processed right now at the
airport and are now waiting to board the plane.
And while all that number may be pretty good compared to what we've seen, when you think that the capacity according to the Pentagon is between 5,000
to 9,000, they still have a long way to go.
Do we know what is the limiting factor?
Is it the gates -- they now have multiple gates being open.
Is it the processing?
Is it getting to the airport?
SOARES: Is it the security or all of this together?
WALSH: The 6,000 number, I hope that that is an accurate reflection of what's happening on the base. Certainly nowhere near -- it didn't feel --
you imagine an evacuation scene, people sprawled all over car parks, sleeping on their luggage et cetera. There was none of that when I was
there on Tuesday.
So I do hope that 6,000 figure is a reflection of more people able to slip through the cracks or over the gates. The limitation is getting people on
the base. When they want to, the Americans are able to get C-17s, massive cargo planes landing one after another on that tarmac.
There are interruptions. It's not clear whether they deem that to be a security threat or there's enough people to be taken away. But it's clear
there are a lot of flights coming in and out when they want that to be.
When I landed on the Qatari end, you see this extraordinary sight of America's war on terror for the last 20 years, an endless runway field of
C-17 transport aircraft. So they've got the ability to do this, no doubt about that.
But do they have the people to reach those targets?
I do hope that 6,000 figure reflects that. After hearing that, Ned Price talked about isolated incidents of congestion, which means he hasn't been
looking at the videos and what's happening out there today, and he had been looking at Twitter for cases of American citizens, unable to get in.
I saw quite a few just when I was there in the space of half an hour. So it may be, since Tuesday afternoon, things have insanely improved. But looking
at the videos outside the airport, it looks like they've gone the opposite direction and they're actually worse.
SOARES: The videos we're seeing do tell a very different story. Nick Paton Walsh, thank you very much.
Still to come tonight, we are live for you in Haiti, where hundreds of thousands of earthquake survivors await help they fear may never come. That
SOARES: Mudslides are preventing water and medicine from reaching thousands of people in Haiti. Hospitals have run out of beds. Some patients are
getting treatment on this floor. The death toll from last weekend's quake has risen to nearly 2,200.
An estimated 600,000 people are in need of aid. Our Matt Rivers is live in Port-au-Prince and joins me now.
SOARES: The search and rescue efforts I imagine are not only being hampered by what is clear lack of resources there but also heavy rains.
MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that was -- that's been the issue really from the beginning here, Isa. There's roadblock after
roadblock after roadblock for search and rescue operators as they try and go through, you know, their task, which becomes increasingly harder just
with the passage of time.
But you have the heat, the rain that we saw over the past couple of days. As we saw first-hand, during the day yesterday, just simply reaching,
getting to some of these communities that are hardest hit is very difficult.
RIVERS (voice-over): Driving into rural Haiti is not easy, miles and miles of tough, unpaved roads. But it's at the end of those roads where some of
the worst damage from this earthquake lies.
This is Corail, a fishing town of 30,000, where hundreds of structures have been destroyed.
Gilain Richard lost everything when the ground shook.
"I lost my business and my home," she says. "I have six kids to send to school and I don't know what I'm going to do."
Hers was just the first home we saw. Up the street, we couldn't drive past this home because, like so many others here, what remains could collapse at
RIVERS: These guys behind me aren't professionals. They are just locals with hammer, wood and nails, trying to figure out a safe way to bring that
severely damaged building behind me down to the ground.
They told us in the nearly five days since this earthquake happened, they still have not had one representative from the central government show up.
RIVERS (voice-over): It's a tough place to get to but, as some pointed out to us, we managed to do it.
So why hasn't the government?
Anger, a persistent sentiment from many.
This man's family was injured when their home collapsed.
RIVERS: Do you think the government can come here and help you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think so. I don't think so. I don't think so.
RIVERS: So you're not waiting for them?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. No.
RIVERS: And are you frustrated with that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, yes, very frustrated. I'm very frustrated.
RIVERS (voice-over): Some blame corruption and a lack of will for government inaction. There's also the recent assassination of Haiti's
president, gang violence and a lack of quality infrastructure, possibly at fault.
This bridge in Jeremie, in rough shape before the earthquake, now so damaged that heavy trucks like these loaded down with aid cannot cross.
Supplies sometimes hand carried.
No matter the reason, the reality persists: people in need are growing increasingly desperate.
"I need help," she says, "and no one is helping me. So far it's only God, who I think will help me."
The place where she might pray for that, the church in the town center, also destroyed. Thankfully, fewer people died during this earthquake
compared to previous similar earthquakes.
"Imagine," as one person told us, "if it had happened on a Sunday morning when church was full."
RIVERS: We spoke to multiple people there who basically said we were the first people from outside that town that they'd actually seen. That was
almost five days after the earthquake happened.
And that's why people are so frustrated. It's not that they can't do these things themselves. It's not that they don't want to help themselves, they
don't want to take charge of the recovery, the rebuilding, whatever.
What they are saying is they need help, they want assistance, resources. And it's just not arriving to those towns where it's desperately needed.
We've spoken to several aid groups, telling them what we saw, to try and spread the word, to say there are lots of other places that need help. So
hopefully, this helps spread the message that those people that we spoke to want to send.
SOARES: Yes, and the point they make, if you can get in, if our team, your team can get in, Matt, so should assistance. And that's the reality. Matt
Rivers there on the ground in Haiti, thanks, Matt.
Now tropical storm Grace has rolled through the Caribbean onto Mexico where it's lashing the Yucatan Peninsula with heavy wind and rain. The storm made
landfall Thursday morning as a category 1 hurricane before weakening on its way to the Gulf.
It's expected to regain strength soon. New hurricane warnings have been issued for the Mexican coast. Here's a look inside the storm. Hurricane
Hunters call this one the meaner parts of Grace.
Still to come, one Afghan interpreter is trapped in Kabul and putting his life in the hands of the U.S. Marines he once served. That story next.
SOARES: U.S. President Joe Biden has come under criticism for the chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. But other world leaders are also facing
In an emotionally charged debate in Parliament, British prime minister Boris Johnson faced accusations from across the political divide on
abandoning Afghanistan to the Taliban. That feeling has been echoed by the U.K.'s former international development secretary, Rory Stewart, who gave
CNN his view on why Afghanistan fell so quickly. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RORY STEWART, U.K. INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT SECRETARY: The U.S., U.K. presence in Afghanistan was very small, very light and sustainable.
We have not been taking casualties recently but we were providing the peace there that was holding the whole of Afghanistan together. In a single
moment, we removed effectively the entire Afghan air force and the contractors that maintained it.
And by doing so, the Afghan army, that was fighting very, very bravely up until the moment that the U.S. troops and the other NATO troops pulled out,
collapsed overnight and we've handed the country to the Taliban.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: Rory Stewart speaking to me earlier.
For an Afghan interpreter abandoned by the U.S. military, efforts to escape to America have hit a brick wall. Support from half a dozen Marines only
got him as far as the airport. Our Cyril Vanier is following his brave journey now.
CYRIL VANIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On the other side of this crowd, the only way out of Afghanistan, Kabul International Airport.
Families, women and children, thousands rushed here to be evacuated after the Taliban's sudden takeover of the country.
Some are being turned away, it seems. Others are settling in for a long wait. The man who shot this video, Haji, his identity protected for fear of
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Take cover. Take cover.
VANIER (voice-over): Haji's journey to the airport really started here 10 years ago. Helmand province, the heart of the Taliban insurgency, Haji
sided with the Americans, a translator for the U.S. Marine Corps.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At least one of those kids is a fighter.
Would you agree?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (from captions): Yes. Definitely they are. They bring weapons here, definitely they bring IED here.
VANIER (voice-over): The Taliban never forgave him. He's been on the run with his wife and young children for five years. This is what Haji said to
CNN only a few weeks ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HAJI (from captions): If they found, they'd kill me and they'd kill my family. Because I was an interpreter with the U.S. Marines.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VANIER (voice-over): Denied a special immigrant visa for the U.S. twice, Haji was running out of options when a former platoon mate stepped in.
LANCE CPL. JIMMY HURLEY, U.S. MARINE CORPS (RET.): I had a moment where I realized that he would not be able to do this by himself at all.
HURLEY: And I felt like, if I didn't see it through, there was zero chance of him getting out.
VANIER (voice-over): From half a world away, former Lance Corporal Jimmy Hurley applied for a new visa and a few days ago started crowdfunding,
anticipating hard times ahead.
HURLEY: Really trying not to get emotional here but I was pretty blown away at $2,000 from friends and family. And then the CNN story aired and then,
you know, hit $10,000, $13,000, $18,000. How quickly it grew has been really, really cool, really overwhelming.
VANIER (voice-over): But the Taliban's lightning advance forced some difficult decisions.
"Haji, you 100 percent need to get to Kabul," Jimmy writes.
"Have you gotten the money?"
Hours go by and finally this from Haji.
"Getting to Kabul. Walking, running, hiding. Walk in mountain and in forest."
Haji and his family taking every risk, skirting Taliban checkpoints, including this one, and rushing to the airport, gambling that their visa
application would be enough to get them to safety.
VANIER: What happened when you tried to get to the gate.
HAJI (from captions): We tried to go in. I told them, "I've got this document."
They said, "No, you have to have someone inside this airport. They come out for you, they will take you inside."
VANIER (voice-over): So Haji waits for an elusive email. Crowds now looking like this outside the airport. The Taliban biding their time as the U.S.
improvises a mass evacuation. Haji's life in the hands of the Americans for whom, a decade ago, he risked his own -- Cyril Vanier, CNN, London.
SOARES: Powerful report there from Cyril Vanier. Of course, we will keep on track of Haji's pathway to get out.
Now the path forward is not only getting Afghans out but really finding a way to support those within the country. Afghanistan was already in need of
a financial lifeline from the international community with the Taliban now inheriting a completely crippled economy.
As you would expect, it's only set to get worse. The IMF, the International Monetary Fund, announcing that it will suspend financial resources to
Afghanistan, including $450 million worth of emergency funds scheduled to be sent to Afghanistan next week.
There will be lots more on this in the next hour on "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" so stay tuned for CNN for that.
Thank you for watching. I'm Isa Soares. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" with Paula Newton, I believe, is next. Bye-bye.