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Hala Gorani Tonight

First Commercial Flight Out of Afghanistan Lands in Doha After Taliban Takeover; Desperate Americans, Afghans Still Waiting to Depart Mazar-i-Sharif Airport; Cuba Government Starts Vaccinating Kids As Young As Two Years Old; U.K.-France Tensions Build over Migrants; North Korea Holds Midnight Parade for 73rd Anniversary; U.S. President Joe Biden to Lay Out New Plan for Fighting Delta Variant; Australia to Offer Pfizer Vaccine to Kids 12-15. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired September 09, 2021 - 14:00   ET



ISA SOARES, HOST, HALA GORANI TONIGHT: Good evening everyone, live from CNN in London, I'm Isa Soares in for HALA GORANI TONIGHT. Out at last. The

first international flight since the U.S. left Afghanistan was able to get out of Kabul today. We'll tell you where it's gone and who was on it. But

thousands are still stuck despite having the right to leave. Albania's Prime Minister joins me live this hour with details on what his country is

doing to take in desperate Afghans.

And as the U.K. plans a controversial tactic in international waters, France accuses it of blackmail. The very latest on the unfolding row over

migrants. But first, we begin this hour in Afghanistan where two very different images are coming into focus. First, a flight really to freedom

for dozens of people, including western nationals. The other, really illustrates the brutal reality of what is taking place on the ground for

those who unfortunately have been left behind.

The first commercial plane to depart Kabul since the U.S. withdrawal landed in Doha a short time ago. More than 100 people cleared by the Taliban were

on board as you can see down there, those images. Well, the militants meanwhile are tightening their grip on those who remain. One source telling

CNN, they have cut off internet access in Kabul and fighters there are beefing up their presence on the streets as well. It comes one day after

the Taliban violently cracked down on demonstrators and restricted future protests.

And a warning here, we're about to show you very graphic images. Take a look at this. These two Afghan journalists were detained and severely

beaten as you can see after covering a rally for women's rights. A Qatari official meanwhile, says Kabul international airport is about 90 percent

ready for operations and will reopen gradually.

That's where Nic Robertson is and he joins us now live. Nic, before we talk about the airport, let me -- give me a sense of your first impressions. I

think you arrived in the last 24 hours or so. As you drive through Afghanistan, what was your first impression as you see the Taliban now very

much in charge, Nic?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Look, it's a place of stark contrast. I think one of the starkest to see is the way that local

journalists have been treated covering demonstrations. Demonstrations that the Taliban are just not used to.

This is not something they ever tolerated in the past. They've put out new laws now saying that you have to have 24 hours advance notice from the

Justice Ministry, you must say where you're going to protest, who is going to protest, what it's about and that has to be signed off, top to bottom by

the Taliban.

You know, our experience today coming across the country was that the Taliban super on the ball for security. Seeing us, stopping us a number of

times. But as soon as they found out we were international journalists on the way to Kabul, they let us go without, you know -- without too many


There was a sort of a -- a sort of line of communications going up the chain of command, if you will, but so there's a contrast there. I think

it's a country of contrasts at the moment as well. There's a new -- there's a new ruling power that's really having a marked effect in the capital and

other big cities because the population is more cosmopolitan there, much more used to the freedoms that they had under the previous government.

Through the countryside that we came through, I'm seeing a country that looks way richer than it did 20-odd years ago. For example, much more wood

at the side of the road for sale, which is an important, valuable commodity for cooking in many homes. When you see a lot of wood, you know that the

economy in that area is doing OK. So, you know, it's a country that's worried about where the economy is going in the future because the Taliban,

you know, do not have great experience running the economy. And big concerns there.

Yet, in the countryside, people still seem to be sort of living their lives, but with this very clear presence of Taliban security.

SOARES: Yes, I mean, it's such interesting insight that you've painted in terms of the two -- at the two visions we see in Afghanistan. And so

important to have you on the ground there. Nic Robertson for us in Kabul this hour. Thanks very much, Nic. I want to go to CNN's Sam Kiley who joins

me now live from Doha. That's where the first flight that I mentioned out has arrived. And Sam, give me an idea of, you know, who was inside?


Who was on board that flight? And I know that Qatar has played a central role here. When do they think that the airport will be fully operational?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this was a Qatari charter flight of a commercial airliner. So, not a military flight, but not

a commercial scheduled flight. A chartered flight really, a humanitarian effort essentially.

The Qataris, they are trying to avoid the word evacuation because they're trying to encourage the notion that these are just people who are using an

airport which is now nearly up and running. And that is a very important signal they're trying to do. They're trying to keep the Taliban close to

the international community so that the Taliban can moderate their behavior inside their own country and see the benefits of that.

And key to that from the Qatari level of diplomacy has been the airport and then they're having a humanitarian energy which they've had all the way

through the mass evacuations organized by the Americans.

They ran the actual convoy that took these 113 passengers, Americans, Canadians, Germans, Ukrainians and one or two other nationalities out of

the country, obviously, a nearly empty plane going out. But nonetheless, a very important moment with Taliban officials saying, and others on the

ground, that the airport is almost ready to be running proper commercial flights and, indeed, a couple of local carriers beginning their

negotiations to fly international flight.

And very significantly, the Qataris, very publicly thanking the Taliban for their role in reopening the airport. And something actually that's also

come from the National Security Council saying that the Taliban were helpful during this process. So, no indication that for international

people trying to get out of the country, there's likely to be any problems. It may be a very different picture, we don't yet know when Afghans try to

start getting on those planes, Isa.

SOARES: Yes, very good point, thank you very much, Sam Kiley there for us in Doha, Qatar. Well, one place where evacuation efforts really remains

stalled is in the city of Mazar-i-Sharif. There's a story we've been tracking for you right here on the show all week.

If you remember, days ago, reports first emerged of hundreds of people and several planes really stranded at the airport. Among that group, there were

American citizens, special immigrant visa applicants, as well as vulnerable Afghans. Many of them reportedly have the right paperwork.

So why aren't the planes moving? Here's what one guest is trying to help those on the ground told this program this Tuesday. Take a listen.


ELIZABETH RUBIN, CONTRIBUTING WRITER, NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE: So, they all have documents. They're all ready to fly. Of course, there's concern,

how do you -- you know, secure that the right people are getting on those planes? We have people who can work with anybody on the ground. The Taliban

have been cooperating with that. You know, the State Department has been involved with this group every day. So, it's a little puzzling what's

happening right now.


SOARES: So that was our guest Elizabeth Rubin you heard there -- you just heard. She said two plane-load of those waiting at the Mazar-i-Sharif

Airport have visas to travel to Albania where they'll be processed. Now, Albania has agreed to temporarily house about 4,000 Afghans. I'm joined now

by Albania's Prime Minister Edi Rama, he's live at the capital Tirana at this hour. Prime Minister, thank you very much for taking the time to speak

to us here on this show.

I'm not sure whether you heard the little clip that we just played, but what we've been hearing throughout this whole week on the show is of

Americans, green card holders and Afghans who worked with Americans in Afghanistan, who have -- they tell us, all the right travel documents,

including visas issued by Albania, but they're not being allowed out of the country. Can you explain to us or help us understand why they can't get


EDI RAMA, PRIME MINISTER, ALBANIA: We are hearing the same because since more than a week, we started to cooperating with our friends in the west

who are engaged in this operation. And every day, there is something new that break the hope and really, I cannot say more about this because nobody

can understand where is really the problem? Maybe it's Taliban's game. Maybe it's lack of coordination with authorities in the U.S., but I cannot

speculate about it.

SOARES: So, is your understanding, prime minister, that those that have all the travel documents, including visas issued by Albania, are going --

are being -- are going to the airport, but they're not allowed -- being allowed through? Is that because the Taliban are not allowing them through

or because the U.S. is not communicating? The Taliban are not letting them through? Where is it -- where's the lack of communication here?


RAMA: I can tell that we have done for these people exactly the same we have done for the others that have already arrived or we are waiting to

arrive. Apparently, this airport is quite tricky, and as I said before, I cannot speculate about where the problem really is, but on the other hand,

I will not be surprised that this is a game, if I might use this word, of the Taliban's, that what they say today, they change tomorrow and so on and

so on and so on.

The last news I got before coming here to talk to you was that now they have changed again by telling that they will allow only people with

passports. Now kids do not have passports. And so, the story apparently will get again in a new phase of stumbling and of deadlock.

SOARES: Why are they playing this game, is my kind of obvious question. And secondly, are you in talks with the Taliban or anyone within your

government in talks with the Taliban? Are you going via the Qataris or via the United States?

RAMA: No, we are not in any talks with the Taliban, and I hope we'll not be. Who should talk to them? Of course, should have all the power to talk

to them and should have all the leverage. And I believe this is the U.S. government. What we are doing is we are in permanent contact with our

friends on the U.S. side that are engaged with this very human and very honorable initiative to save the life of these vulnerable people among

which there are American citizens.

And somehow it's disturbing, if not say embarrassing that American citizens cannot get out of this country and airport, but again, I don't know more

than that. I don't want to --

SOARES: Yes --

RAMA: Speculate. And I tend to believe that this game from within Afghanistan and this is not about lack of will or whatever from any other


SOARES: So, perhaps the political game is what you're hinting at, prime minister. You sound frustrated. How frustrated are you by all of this?

RAMA: Listen, to tell you frankly, it's something that I'm frustrated. It's that -- by being involved personally and with my close team with the

minister of Foreign Affairs who is practically working around the clock day and night to make sure that these operations are successful and a few other

ministers and staff members. We are naturally involved to --

SOARES: Yes --

RAMA: The point that we feel for these people. We really feel for these people. And having seen the people that have arrived, having known their

stories, having understood what they have gone through, sounds very familiar, because we had our own Taliban. They were not Islamists. They

were Marxist-Leninists, but they were very similar because they had the same attitude towards freedom of expression. They had the same hate for

art, for culture, for everything that was different from their mindset.

They didn't blow up Buddha statues, but they blew up thousands of churches with dynamite. The bombed -- so it's familiar. And you know, we are

involved in this because it is who we are. It's who we were, 30 years ago, we were like them trying to escape the hell, knocking at other's doors. We

found doors that were opened, and now how can we possibly close the door.

SOARES: Yes --

RAMA: So, maybe because we are not -- we are not too rich, we don't have a short memory.

SOARES: And now, clearly, you are playing your part. You are doing your bit. I had read and correct me if I'm wrong, prime minister, you agreed to

take in some 4,000 or so evacuees. How many have you welcomed so far?


And just explain to our viewers in terms of the processing, the vetting those for the U.S. Has the process started yet for those who want to go to

the United States?

RAMA: The numbers -- the numbers are correct. We have -- we have offered our availability for thousands, of course, this can change. But as things

are unfolding, basically, after the full withdrawal of the American mission, the operations have become absolutely difficult. So, the people

that have arrived are not yet a thousand.

SOARES: Yes --

RAMA: And the others are just dragging, not only in the Mazar-i-Sharif Airport, but also in Kabul. So, all the entities that have done an amazing

job, human rights and charity and humanitarian entities where journalists like Elizabeth Rubin or Yalda Hakim are involved just by very personal

commitment are having terrible difficulties to get people out. So, of course, it's a frustration because every life matters, and lives are not --

are not different value if you are white or black, if you are Albanian or Afghan, if you are French or Eskimo. It's human life.

SOARES: Prime Minister, thank you very much for taking the time to speak with us. Do keep us posted on your efforts, of course, to get more people -

- more evacuees flying into Albania. Do keep us posted on how that goes. Thank you very much. The Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama.

Thank you, sir. Well, too often, stories like this can become just about the numbers. People fleeing in their hundreds and thousands. But now, we

can hear from one young woman now. One person waiting, really, for a chance to escape in Mazar-i-Sharif. She's with an NGO called Ascend. And she

wanted us all to know why she can no longer stay in her homeland. Take a listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's very hard for me to leave my country, but I have nowhere. So, because this is no longer a safe place for me, I work hard for

many years, studying and working. But today, I have one job, and I have no place in Taliban (INAUDIBLE). I don't know if the Taliban are going to kill

me or not.


SOARES: Really, some powerful words there from a young woman waiting -- exactly what we were talking about for -- with the Prime Minister of

Albania for her chance to escape, well, of course, we will stay across the situation as we have done throughout this whole week in Mazar-i-Sharif and

continue to ask people like her why they are not being allowed to depart. We'll stay on top of this story right here on this show. We'll of course,

keep you updated.

Next, Cuba expands its COVID vaccine drive, giving doses to kids as young as two. We'll explain what's behind the government's decision. That's next.



SOARES: Now in Cuba, state media report that kids as young as two are now being vaccinated for COVID-19. The island is thought to be the first

country in the world to inoculate children this young. It's part of the government's efforts to stop rising infections and really need to get kids

back to school. CNN's Patrick Oppmann is in Havana with more. Patrick, why is Cuba rushing to vaccinate these young children when it hasn't yet

finished vaccinating health care workers, the elderly and the hardest-hit areas?

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. It's a controversial choice, Isa, but it's all about what didn't happen, which was in-person

class was supposed to begin this Monday. The Cuban government felt that it was safe for children to return to the classrooms really for the first time

since the pandemic struck here. And then, at the last moment, they had to once again say that classes were canceled. And this is really difficult in

Cuba because of course, people don't have internet in their homes commonly here.

It's either too expensive or the government has not allowed for people to have internet in their homes, so kids watch TV. They watch educational

programs on TV. It's just not the same, everyone here admits and children are falling behind.

And the Cuban government had made a big push. They felt that they were ready to get kids back in the classrooms, and then the Delta variant hit

like so many other places. So, we've seen a spike in children getting sick, and the Cuban government has once again re-juggled their priorities, saying

that children will now be a priority, even though they're not the most at- risk population.

But of course, you can't get people to go back to work. You can't get society to really get back to normal. If children can't go back to school,

and so, they are once -- they are prioritizing children, they say, and it's all part of a big push to eventually open up borders in November. The

vaccinated now -- fully vaccinated over 4 million people, that's not quite half of this island.

They say they'll have to vaccinate some 90 percent of this island, including children, if they can reopen borders in mid-November. It is a

major challenge, but we are seeing the first children get those jabs and the Cuban government says now that they have done studies and that their

vaccines are safe for children. We certainly hope that, that is the case as aiding this major push that vaccinate children as well here.

SOARES: Do keep us posted. Patrick Oppmann there for us in Havana, Cuba, thanks, Patrick, good to see you. Now, the coronavirus pandemic has brought

Kenya's tourism industry to halt. In parts of Kenya, the economic fallout is so severe that protected wildlife is being killed for food. CNN's Scott

McLean has the details for you.


SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Savanna of southern Kenya is a tough place to survive. It's hot, dry and there's the

constant threat of predators planning their next meal. Lions, leopards and lately a lot of humans, too.

DONART MWAKIO, TAITA HILLS WILDLIFE SANCTUARY: Currently, the situation is worse because most people have lost their jobs and now they're resorting to


MCLEAN: Twice a day, Donart Mwakio and his team of rangers from the sprawling Taita Hills Wildlife Sanctuary go hunting for poachers. On this

day, they find a crudely butchered giraffe carcass killed by poachers in the last two weeks.

MWAKIO: It weighs about one ton.

MCLEAN (on camera): OK.

MCLEAN (voice-over): Down the dirt road, the footprints are much fresher, it leads to a homemade snare fashioned from the electric fence meant to

keep poachers out. They find two more traps, the last one attached to the hoof of an eland, the largest antelope on earth. New figures from the Kenya

wildlife service show that seizures of bush meat, mostly antelope, zebras and Dik-diks are on pace to hit a record high.

JOHN MIGUI WAWERU, DIRECTOR GENERAL, WILDLIFE SERVICE, KENYA: The problem is not looking very good at the moment. Poverty is something that was --

that came through with the COVID because jobs were lost.


MCLEAN: People are desperate.

WAWERU: People are desperate, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They sit in the village, morning to evening, they don't have a cent, they don't have food.

MCLEAN: Willie Maodillo(ph) is the general manager and Taita Hills and the two hotels inside the sanctuary that pre-pandemic were almost always near

capacity. But in the past 18 months he says, they've scarcely topped 20 percent.

MCLEAN (on camera): People are asking you for jobs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. So many people. So many people.

MCLEAN: You don't have jobs to give them?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't have jobs to give them.

MCLEAN (voice-over): In the village next to the sanctuary, poverty is the rule, not the exception. Wildlife is the most precious resource, but

without tourism, the animals are worth a lot more dead. This village was struggling even before the pandemic. Only some of the houses are hooked up

to electricity, nobody has indoor plumbing and the pandemic has made life just that much harder. People here say they don't have enough to eat, and

so, it's pretty hard to blame them for poaching.

Ibrahim Chombo(ph) takes any odd job he can to earn the $7 a day that ensures his wife and two small kids have enough to eat. But since the

pandemic took hold, his kids eat just once a day.

"They've become weak because there's nothing to eat. They don't complain. They know when their parents get money, they will get to eat", he says.

Chombo(ph) says he doesn't poach bush meat, but like many, he buys it. He can't afford beef. It's at least four times the price.

GABRIEL MRADAI, BUTCHER: Before corona, there were so many customers.

MCLEAN: The local butcher works on commission. Pre-pandemic, his display case would be filled with 20 or 25 kilograms of beef. Now, there's just

one, almost no one can afford it. Ask around and bush meat is not hard to find. This man who agreed to speak with us anonymously says he's the middle

man who buys the meat from poachers and takes it to town to resell at a small profit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have to take care of my family, so I have to risk to go back to the bush.

MCLEAN: He's well aware of the risk. Jail time or a fine he could never afford if he was caught.

MCLEAN (on camera): So, what's the lesson in all of this?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need employment.

MCLEAN: If you could feed your family some other way, you wouldn't do this?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I cannot do that.

WAWERU: The root of the problem is, we now must look for alternatives. First, we must educate the people to tell them the problem of why bush meat

is not the alternative.

MCLEAN (voice-over): But that perhaps is a tough sell considering tourism has all but dried up.

WAWERU: It has, but recent numbers are beginning to show that it's beginning to pick up.

MCLEAN: Glimmer of light that cannot come soon enough. Scott McLean, CNN, Tsavo, Kenya.


SOARES: And still to come tonight, the U.K. and France may be heading for a show-down over the waves of migrants trying to cross the channel. We'll

discuss the moves the U.K. is reportedly considering and why France is so angry about them. Plus, the U.S. President will soon unveil his latest plan

to tackle the coronavirus pandemic as hospitals across the country struggle to help desperately ill patients. We'll bring you both of those stories

after a short break.




SOARES: Welcome back, everyone.

France is reacting strongly to reports that the U.K. may start turning back small boats of migrants heading across the English Channel. At least 13,000

migrants have crossed from France to Britain just this year.

The U.K. also is reportedly threatening to withhold millions of pounds it has promised to pay France to stop migrants from setting sail.

The French interior minister just tweeted, "France will not accept any practice contrary to the law of the sea nor any financial blackmail."

Nina dos Santos is following this escalating dispute from London.

Explain to our viewers what exactly Priti Patel wants to see here.

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNNMONEY EUROPE EDITOR: What has been debated here is this idea of pushing boats back across the Channel that divides the U.K.

with France, which is obviously very, very difficult to imagine.

The government actually pushing forward and, in practical terms, doing. But the reality is that it's -- the backdrop to all of this is slightly more

torpid than that. Priti Patel is coming under increasing pressure because of the number of migrants making their way to the U.K. shores.

They're at record levels; 14,000 people have made the crossing across this small stretch of water that divides the two countries this year alone,

1,250 in the last week alone as the weather has been more forgiving and 300 people intercepted just yesterday. Another 300 or so were turned back.

And Priti Patel, to try to stop this, because, of course, she's always brandished her credentials as being a tough on immigration home secretary,

struck a deal recently with the French government to pay tens of millions of dollars to France to try and intercept some of these people smugglers,

helping to bring people across.

She says that she's not seeing the kind of levels of interceptions and preventing people from making their way to the U.K. that she would like to


She's also coming across some very, very difficult political flak here in the U.K., having to justify the money that she's promised France, with

these rising number of migrants. As you said, the French interior minister, very irate about this after recent talks with Priti Patel.

He's accused the U.K. government of posturing and he says it is not France's fault they can't intercept more of these people and more of these

boats. The smugglers are getting more and more bold and using bigger vessels as well. So it's a tricky position for both sides.

SOARES: And they met this week, correct me if I'm wrong. They met this week to discuss this.

What is next then?

What is France going to do?

DOS SANTOS: Well, this 54 million pounds, $75 million deal, is actually dead in the water. That is a big question. It doesn't look as though it is,

thus far; as I was saying before, this is largely political rather than practical because let's think about the practicalities of this.

The U.K. would have to start training, which, according to U.K. press reports, it has already started to do. Its border patrol boats to start

intercepting some of these boats and push them back in a safe manner. This is a dangerous operation that, in other parts of the Mediterranean, has

resulted in the loss of life.

So there have been reports the home secretary herself would have to sanction this particular operation on a case-by-case basis.

And then there's the legally torpid situation of whether or not France would accept those migrants back. Throughout the course of the Brexit

negotiations, the U.K. repeatedly tried to negotiate some sort of deal with the E.U., to try to make sure they could send migrants back, that the U.K.

does have control over its money, its borders, its laws.


DOS SANTOS: But the E.U. itself you've got to remember is also extremely concerned about migration as well here. We have the situation in

Afghanistan, that both Brussels and Britain is watching very, very cautiously. So migration is turning into another one of those flashpoints.

And it also came up at the G7 summit. And this is the backdrop to the argument as well. Priti Patel says she sought ministers there make a

commitment to tackling migration, irregular migration it's called, and the people-smuggling networks.

She says if she's going to pay the bill, she wants France to step up to that action. If not, she'll take more drastic action like this, Isa.

SOARES: Clearly doesn't seem as though she can deal without France.

Let's delve deeper into this now and the possible legal issues really turning back migrants would raise. Geoffrey Robertson is a human rights

lawyer and author of "The Justice Game."

And Geoffrey, putting aside the politics for now, is Priti Patel's plan legal?

GEOFFREY ROBERTSON, HUMAN RIGHTS LAWYER: I don't think it is because the law of the sea provides the overriding factor for every captain of every

boat that they must put rescue first.

And when people are in peril on the sea, that's what you've got to do, not sink their boat or push it back. And here you have a very powerful

(INAUDIBLE), in effect, the water police. They will not, as they're doing now and should do, be escorting these refugee claimants to Britain.

They will be using boats to push them back to the very rocks, the very beaches, on which, 75 years ago, American and British troops landed to

liberate France from fascism, from Nazis.

So what a spectacle that will be, these refugees, in their ramshackle boats, exercising their right to claim refugee status, will either be sunk

or will jump overboard. Some may drown. This is the kind of thing that uncivilized governments do and this British government is now proposing.

And maritime law is violated. So is the International Convention on Human Rights, which says that you have a right to claim asylum. If it were done

properly, they would set up a refugee credit, say at Dur (ph) or Calais, and process them there.

But they are denying, by this new pushback policy, will deny them the right to claim their refugee status in Britain.

And the French are not helping, either. They are being obstructionist. One suspects they are perfectly happy to get rid of refugee claims.

And so it's extraordinary that these two self-styled, civilized nations, the most civilized were France and Britain, can't agree on how to deal with

this particular humanitarian crisis. And they are dealing with it, as far as Britain is concerned, by force.

SOARES: It is a humanitarian crisis. And it started all the way back in 2016. I remember covering this at great length in the Mediterranean.

But this sort of pushback tactic, Geoffrey, and I may be wrong here, has this not already been happening in the Mediterranean?

Of course it's highly controversial but that has been happening in the Aegean between Greece and Turkey.

So how does this differ here?

ROBERTSON: This is Britain. And Britain hasn't had to worry because it's been in the E.U. and every member of the E.U. is bound by something called

the Dublin agreement, to force refugees to claim their status in the first country they arrive in, which is usually Greece, which is rather unfair on


But Britain having left these, it can't take advantage of this treaty. And so refugees have the right to go to Britain, even though they've been in

France, and claim their refugee status.

And so by pushing them back, Britain breaks international law by denying them the right to make their refugee claim. It may not be successful. And

Britain would be entitled then to deport. But the law requires on the possibility, probability, that it is for the claim to be processed in



ROBERTSON: And if there's no sensible agreement to do it at Calais, to do it in France and then distribute those who have got a valid claim, then we

get this kind of chaos at the site of the Normandy landing beaches.

Having British police dashing refugees on the rocks is something that I think the Second World War liberators would find extremely ironic and


SOARES: Geoffrey, I was reading -- and you, of course, you can correct me -- but I was reading the U.K. has a legal right to intercept people at sea

where they feel it's necessary, whether it's prevent crime or protect borders.

Do you think they can use this as a way to send people back?

ROBERTSON: No, they've got a right, of course, to intercept smugglers. And they've got a right to do all sorts of things to people on the sea for

safety. But the overriding duty -- not right, duty -- is to rescue those in peril on the sea. And to put people in these ramshackle asylum boats in

peril by using force against them is contrary to maritime law.


SOARES: So do you think, Geoffrey, this is going to go ahead?

Is this even possible here?

ROBERTSON: I -- look, the thing that makes Britain great, one of the very few things, is that it tends -- unlike other countries -- to obey

international law.

And we've had, from this government, this minister, Priti Patel, who often shoots off the mouth and then has to retract, we've had plans to reach

international law; there have internal protests and so forth. And they have been retracted.

I suspect -- I hope that we will not have the spectacle of British armed police, powerful boats pushing back, pushing over, drowning people,

attempting to claim their right of asylum. That's what I hope. And we will have to wait and see.

SOARES: We shall stay, of course, on top of this story. Geoffrey Robertson, thank you. Thank you very much, sir.

Well, the U.S. Justice Department is preparing to file a lawsuit to challenge a highly controversial abortion law in Texas. An announcement

could come any moment now and, of course, we'll bring that to you live when it happens.

The law bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, before even most women know they are pregnant. President Biden directed his Justice Department to

explore ways to contest the law after the Supreme Court refused to block it. We'll stay on top of the story.

France says it will make contraception free for all women up to the age of 25. It's expanding a program that currently provides free birth control to

girls up to age 18. The French health minister says the high cost of contraception has led to a decline in its use.

He says it's unbearable that women can't protect themselves from unplanned pregnancies because they simply can't afford it.

And still to come tonight, North Korea's leader is back in the spotlight, trying to project an image of health as well as military might. This

morning's parade was a bit different than usual. We'll tell you why. That is next.





SOARES: North Korea held a military parade on Thursday marking its 73rd anniversary in the middle of the night. It was the usual show, full of

planes, synchronized marches and cheering crowds. Kim Jong-un greeted people, looking much slimmer than he has in the past. But the spectacle was

something missing. Paula Hancocks explains.


PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is the third parade in a row that North Korea has held overnight. But this one was very different to the

previous two. The main reason for that is it did not focus on the missile and nuclear capability of North Korea.

Now what we saw back in January was a military parade, where they unveiled a new submarine-launched ballistic missile in development. Back in October

of last year, they unveiled what analysts believe could be one of the world's largest ballistic missiles.

But this time around, for the 73rd anniversary of the founding of North Korea, there was nothing like that. There was nothing to do with the

missile capability. There was military on display and certainly there were plenty of troops on display.

It is North Korea, after all. But the military aspect was certainly less prominent. It was more battlefield than missile and nuclear capability.

So what we did see is we saw marching bands, the usual crowds cheering and walking through Kim Il-sung Square, paying respects to the North Korean

leader, Kim Jong-un, who came out at the stroke of midnight to celebrate the Foundation Day.

Now we also saw what we were told by state media -- this was the public security forces. So we saw things like laborers. We saw the fire brigade

and we also saw units that were dressed in hazmat suits and gas masks.

And they were described as the emergency disease prevention unit, so presumably the front line defense in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

North Korea still claims it doesn't have any cases of COVID within the country. Analysts and experts, I should say, believe that that's highly

unlikely. But the fact is we did see thousands of people in Kim Il-sung Square not wearing a mask, including the North Korean leader himself, who

was, along with the elite, watching the parade.

So certainly in Pyongyang, there is an expectation that there may not be a massive outbreak of COVID-19. But there was certainly this very unusual

show of this particular unit, that was in the front line of trying to keep the disease out of the country.

So a very different parade to what we are used to seeing from North Korea in recent months and years -- Paula Hancocks, CNN, Seoul.


SOARES: Still to come tonight, the Delta variant is surging in the United States and not enough Americans are getting vaccinated. President Biden is

hoping to change that. We'll hear how, next.





SOARES: In North Macedonia, fire at a makeshift COVID hospital has left at least 14 people dead; 12 people were seriously injured. All of the victims

were patients at the facility. The flames broke out late on Wednesday. The prime minister says the fire was sparked by an explosion. And that

investigation is currently under way.

Now in just a few hours, the United States president will unveil his plan to tackle the coronavirus pandemic, as the Delta variant sweeps over the

country. He will start with an executive order. And that is requiring all federal employees to be fully vaccinated.

The White House press secretary says he's focused on beefing up vaccination rates. Mr. Biden will also address testing, particularly how to keep

schools open and improving patient care. We'll stay on top of that story.

And it appears, in fact, the Australian government is looking at vaccines and not lockdowns as the key to students returning to normal and taking

their end of year exams. Kristie Lu Stout has more for you.


KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's exam season in Sydney, Australia. Quarters like these should be buzzing with

nervous energy as school levers begin a rite of passage, a suite of tests to determine whether they make their university course of choice.

Instead, the schoolyard is as hushed as an exam hall. Trinity Grammar, locked down since June, just like all of the schools in Australia's biggest


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we're all pretty jaded by the experience. I think that the experience for boys have been stuck in their houses for this

length of time is weighing on them. And I know that for the teachers, it's wearing on us, too.

STOUT (voice-over): It was the first city-wide lockdown in over a year; until then, a successful elimination strategy had kept all aspects of life,

including school, relatively normal. Now each day brings well over 1,000 new infections. And the whole state of New South Wales is shut, every

school as quiet as this one.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have all been caught by surprise. I think we are settling now into an understanding that this will be with us some time to

come. I'm very keen that our students to take up the vaccination as and when they get the opportunity to do so.

STOUT (voice-over): That opportunity is finally presenting itself. After a slow start, Australia's vaccine rollout is picking up pace, soon expanding

to ages 12 to 15, meaning that, even as the virus quickly spreads, the state government can begin to plan.

GLADYS BEREJIKLIAN, PREMIER, NEW SOUTH WALES: Whatever dream they want to pursue, whether it's further education, getting into the work force,

getting their credentials, it's really important, whilst in anybody's life and we want to make sure we provide that certainty.

STOUT (voice-over): Next month some classes will be back in session. Students will get to sit their tests, pushed back to November. But with

cases remaining high, officials hope to stop the spread through vaccinations. The state has made them mandatory for teachers and campus



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am fully vaccinated and I do have the privilege of living in a household that is comfortable and safe. And I know that

situation really can't speak for other students, who might be having a really rough time right now, given the circumstances.

STOUT (voice-over): As recently as August, very few eligible teens were vaccinated. Doses have been redistributed to target young people in working

class neighborhoods of Sydney, where COVID transmission has been at its worst.

Over 15,000 took that chance over one week in August. And now vaccine uptake among the 16 to 19 age group has been increasing across the city.

And students like Sam Hohne, in his final year at Trinity, came to do whatever it takes to reclaim important moments.

SAM HOHNE, STUDENT, TRINITY GRAMMAR SCHOOL: When we had vaccinations, which did seem to be a pretty constructive solution to the issue, it seems

like a bit of a no-brainer to me to want to go for that.

STOUT (voice-over): At least one no-brainer, for a student sitting exams during a global pandemic -- Kristie Lu Stout, CNN.


SOARES: Let's talk more about President Biden's COVID strategy. CNN White House reporter Stephen Collinson joins me from Washington.

Give us an idea what we can expect from President Biden's speech.

STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I think Biden will give the nation a bit of a pep talk, Isa. You know, the United States is in a

worse position as regards the pandemic as it was a year ago: more people in hospital, more people getting sick, more people dying.

And that is taking to account the miracle of the vaccines, which allow most people to get away without even falling very sick at all. The problem in

the United States, of course, is there are millions of people, for political, cultural and social reasons, who won't take those vaccines.

And they've become very vulnerable to the Delta variant, which has been sweeping across the country. So the president really needs to show that he

can chart a way out of this crisis. He has to restore some confidence in his leadership, which was battered over the last three or four weeks over

the chaotic exit out of Afghanistan.

While this is a public health speech, it is also a real chance for the president to re-establish his political authority, which he really needs to

do after a rough August.

SOARES: Stephen Collinson for us. Thanks very much.

The speech is expected in roughly two hours' time.

That does it for me tonight. Thanks very much for watching. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" with Richard Quest is next. Do stay right here with CNN.