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tv   BBC News  BBC News  August 22, 2021 9:00pm-9:30pm BST

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this is bbc news with the latest headlines for viewers in the uk and around the world. one week after the fall of kabul to the taliban, president biden will face the press and growing criticism of the way he's handled the crisis. the taliban says it has sent hundreds of fighters to the panjshir valley north of kabul, because local leaders are refusing to hand over power. meanwhile, thousands of afghans continue their days long vigil outside kabul airport, hoping to escape a country now in the hands of the taliban again. those who make it are still in shock at how quickly afghanistan capitulated. no—one expected it would be this quick. would be so sudden. and for these afghans, the crisis isjust starting. in the us state of tennessee,
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ten people are killed and many more missing after severe flooding. new york state declares an emergency, as tropical storm henri makes landfall along the atlantic coast, in rhode island. hello and welcome to bbc news to viewers in the uk and around the world. presidentjoe biden is expected to speak any moment now on the situation in afghanistan. he's already pledged to evacuate every american and eligible afghan who wants to leave, but is under pressure at home with polls suggesting that a large majority of americans believe he has handled the withdrawal of troops badly. meanwhile borisjohnson will convene a meeting of the g7 group of leading nations this week to discuss
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afghanistan, in the wake of the us and allied troop withdrawal. we'll bring you president biden�*s address from the white house live as soon as it happens. but first let's get you up to date with the situation in kabul — here's our correspondent, secunder kermani. when the taliban took over kabul, many residents were terrified. but rowena, a young female journalist, decided she should go and talk to them for her youtube channel. that was the last video she uploaded. she is unsure if the group will approve of her working or not. for now, many offices have told female employees to stay at home. many female professionals have fled in fear. "i really love myjob and i want to carry on working," she says. "i hope the taliban will allow me to, otherwise i'll have to leave the country and go abroad." the last time the taliban were in power in the 1990s,
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women weren't allowed to work and the girls couldn't go to school. punishments were brutal. today, under taliban rule, you still do see some women out and about in kabul, though significantly fewer than before. many are simply too afraid to step outside. so far, they haven't been ordered to wear the burqa or to stay at home unless accompanied by a man, but no—one�*s sure if that will last. i've been trying to speak to any of the women here, but all of them are extremely reluctant to go on camera. that is not something entirely new, but one woman did tell me while she was deeply anxious about the future she didn't feel safe saying anything critical about the taliban. even without new laws being imposed, fear is changing the way many women dress. "no—one�*s buying jeans any more," says this shopkeeper. "instead, they are buying
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head scarves and more "conservative gowns." the taliban have always been vague in their commitments to women's rights. in some areas, they banned girls going to school beyond the age of 12. young afghan women have been amongst those taking part in scattered protests, defying the group. this woman is a prominent campaigner and was a member of the team negotiating with the taliban. a lot of women actually contact me. they come to see me or message me. they are trying a way out or looking for something different. not only in terms of security but in terms of hope for a better country. they don't have it any more. but in the meantime, i think i'm very proud to see them getting ready to resist. many women worry, whatever the taliban say now, they'll grow increasingly strict once the international focus comes to an end. secunder kermani, bbc news, kabul.
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the taliban has said that hundreds of its fighters are heading for the panjshir valley north of kabul — this seems to be the key area that local leaders are refusing to hand over peacefully. earlier, the region's powerful militia leader, ahmad massoud, had said he was ready for talks to avert a civil war, so long as the taliban rejected extremism. this is mr massoud — son of the legendary anti—soviet resistance fighter ahmad shah massoud. he said he was open to an inclusive, decentralised government, but would fight any regime imposed by the taliban. the bbc�*s yalda hakim has just tweeted, "update "from the anti—taliban resistance — they tell me, "taliban ambushed "in andarab of baghlan province." "they say at least 300 taliban fighters were killed." she said this is the group of resistance fighters led by ahmad massoud and amrullah saleh, and posted these stills with her tweet.
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clearly a situation unfolding there, north of kabul. barbara plett usher is in washington. barbara, first we are expecting... about afghanistan and the extreme weather that you are having there. on afghanistan, is he really on the 0n afghanistan, is he really on the defence now, do you think? weill. on afghanistan, is he really on the defence now, do you think? well, his administration _ defence now, do you think? well, his administration is _ defence now, do you think? well, his administration is on _ defence now, do you think? well, his administration is on the _ defence now, do you think? well, his administration is on the defence - defence now, do you think? well, his administration is on the defence and | administration is on the defence and they were his senior officials were called to account for what is happening in kabul on the sunday morning programmes today and they faced some pretty tough questioning, but they did defend the steps that they had taken with the narrative they had taken with the narrative they have held all along, that no intelligence had predicted that kabul would full so quickly, in ii kabul would full so quickly, in 11 days, that if there is a collapse of the government you will have chaos ensue and that they had actually scrambled to put together a major
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airlift, which was quite an achievement. then they go through the steps that have been taken so far in terms that a lift, the countries that have come on board in terms of transit locations, the number of people put out and so on. so they are on the defensive. i don't know that mr biden himself will be defensive. he hasn't been so far, so if history is any guide he will continue to be defiant and unapologetic. he has not admitted any mistake, miscalculation or failure, although there has been a lot of criticism of the administration for not getting their afghan allies out more quickly. in actualfact, according to reports the secretary of state did say to lawmakers at one point, those are legitimate questions, why we didn't get people out sooner, and at some point they will need to be answered. do you think the white house's questions about the deadline are legitimate as well?— questions about the deadline are legitimate as well? well, president biden has given _ legitimate as well? well, president biden has given that _ legitimate as well? well, president biden has given that legitimacy, . legitimate as well? well, president biden has given that legitimacy, he j biden has given that legitimacy, he has said that... he has not ruled out, let me put it that way. his
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bottom line is he will get all the americans out you want to get out, no matter how long it takes and how hard it is, so with that he has offered the possibility of extending that deadline. whether it is self—imposed because he is the one who made that deadline, he is under pressure here in washington from his allies to extend it, but no one has committed to do that yet. barbara plett usher, _ committed to do that yet. barbara plett usher, thank _ committed to do that yet. barbara plett usher, thank you _ committed to do that yet. barbara plett usher, thank you very - committed to do that yet. barbara j plett usher, thank you very much. we'll get more on afghanistan shortly. but first, we're also expecting president biden to address the extreme weather in the us. this is the scene in tennessee where rescue workers are still searching for dozens of people who are missing after severe flooding there. the floods followed what local reporters described as unprecedented rainfall which killed at least ten people, destroying roads and sweeping away mobile phone towers. young children are among the dead. meanwhile tropical storm henri has made landfall in rhode island in the north—east united states. the us national hurricane centre says henri brought sustained winds of over 95 kilometres an hour,
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and new york was drenched with a record—breaking hour of rain — the most ever recorded in the city in a single hour since the service began tracking more than 150 years ago. a state of emergency has been declared in parts of new york state. here's the outgoing governor of new york, andrew cuomo. new yorkers, please take this storm seriously. i know it is short notice. think super storm sandy. that was a category one, this is a category one. the bbc�*s bahman kalbasi is in long island and sent us this update. we have been seeing an especially high tide, much of the beach behind me disappears underwater. these waves have been pounding for hours. of course, this part of where i am standing in the south of long island is a barrier island called fire island and it has seen a lot
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of damage from hurricane sandy, where the governor was just referring to it in 2012, so a lot of residents here were quite worried about storm surge and many of them evacuated. but that storm surge has not arrived, at least to the point of endangering the houses. nevertheless, we have been seeing an incredible amount of rain, notjust here. but in new york city. central parkjust recorded its wettest hours in recorded history, nearly 4.5 inches in close to two hours. so flooding is very much still a worry and of course the centre of the storm is moving towards rhode island. let's go back to afghanistan now — and we will bring you that address from the white house as soon as president biden begins to speak. 0ur chief international correspondent, lyse doucet, flew into kabul airport today — and sent her first impressions of the situation there. it hits you as soon as you put your foot on the tarmac of this airfield.
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the intensity, the urgency of this moment. every direction we look at kabul international airport, afghans and foreigners in straight lines boarding the military transport planes that are all around this tarmac, taking afghans, notjust away from their country, but away from the lives that they live, the identity they had cherished, leaving everything behind to start from scratch. this urgent evacuation is one that no—one expected, nobody wanted and no—one will forget. let's just take a closer look at some of these. in the distance over here you can see there is another queue of people here lining up. there are military helicopters in the sky. and there is so much traffic on this
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airfield now that we circled for quite some time overhead until we were given permission to land. there are said to be more than 10,000, possibly up to 111,000 people. now in this airfield, waiting to board a flight to take them anywhere out of this country, foreigners as well as afghans. that is why the us military announced yesterday it would be closed for 48 hours. it is all calm, it is all controlled here in this space, butjust beyond this perimeter... now they are asking us to move ahead, so we have to move a little bit, come with us. there are thousands more afghans, a crush of afghans who have raced to the airport to try to get on one of these flights.
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one of those at the airport today was the well—known afghan journalist, bilal sarwary who has decided he has to leave afghanistan. he wrote in a tweet: he spoke to lyse at the airport, here's what he told her about his decision to leave. i think it is beyond our control and todayis i think it is beyond our control and today is a day in a generation of afghans have buried their dreams and aspirations and our lives. this city to us is our home, despite its contradictions. we called it home, we were raised from here. we hope to tell a man can learn from the lessons of the past and everyone else, and we can prove that we can move away from attacks and bullets towards a road where everyone can see themselves, but it breaks my heart to tell you that this is the... i don't have any other word for it here. afghanistan is a country where good people don't grow
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on trees. i tried my best to tell the story of the people of this country. i started as a fixer and translator in 2001. i didn't know that i would be covering the fall of afghanistan again 21 years ago, 20 years later on. and i think that the worldly at this stage must try and preserve this generation, this capital generation. this is not the time for inflammatory words, this is not the time for provocative statements, but i hope that the taliban now know they are not the shadow government and they have more responsibilities. but for me personally and my family, we have only been able to basically pick up a few pairs of cloves. i have left everything that i worked for for 20 years. as you know, i have been to the west, i studied there. it was never, ever in my mind that i would have been to the west, i studied
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there. it was never, ever in my mind that i would ever go. and i named my daughter sola, peace. we were very hopeful that she could grow in peace here. and it is very devastating, to say the least. here. and it is very devastating, to say the least-— say the least. another eyewitness account for _ say the least. another eyewitness account for you. _ gay—sue yar—ree was evacuated from kabul last week after going into hiding. she is a leading campaigner for women's rights and was part of the afghan civil service. i think it is clear why a lot of women and women's rights activists are leading the country. inaudible inaudible i personally worked as the commissioner... forafghanistan, my commissioner... for afghanistan, my target commissioner... forafghanistan, my target was to increase the number of women by 30% in the civil service in
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afghanistan. i ended up having before i leave the country and i feel like if i stayed don't... inaudible and a woman who did a lot of... socially or economically in the country because we do know the other scenario that women are not... that was born, trained and developed in the past 20 years in afghanistan. if you don't see a hope in a country, i don't think... inaudible and to stay there, but i think the reason i left was because i wanted to be a wife. i wanted to survive so i can have more energy for the future activism i think it's going to come soon. the headlines on bbc news... one week after the fall of kabul to the taliban, president biden will face the press, and growing criticism of the way he's handled the crisis. the taliban says it has sent hundreds of fighters to the panjshir valley north of kabul, because local leaders
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are refusing to hand over power. well, we will be going to that address from president biden as soon as we can. he is preparing now to come out into the roosevelt room in the white house, so we will get back to you when he addresses people of the united states. here, the former labour prime minister, tony blair, who sent troops into afghanistan 20 years ago, has described the us withdrawal as "tragic, dangerous and unnecessary." mr blair said the decision to end what us president biden has called "forever wars" was wrong. here's our political correspondent chris mason. he's the former prime minister most often remembered for the war in iraq. before that came this moment in 2001, shortly after the september 11th attacks.
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military action against targets inside afghanistan has begun. i can confirm that uk forces are engaged in this action. two decades on, chaos, desperation. let's hear what president biden has to say now in the roosevelt room of the white house.— the white house. after a series of meetin . s the white house. after a series of meetings throughout _ the white house. after a series of meetings throughout the - the white house. after a series of| meetings throughout the weekend the white house. after a series of- meetings throughout the weekend with my national security team, i want to update the american people on our ongoing operation of a decoration in afghanistan. but first i was briefed by the administrator who is here with me today. it is chris. about flash flooding in waverley tennessee. i want to begin by expressing my condolences for the sudden loss of life to this flash
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flood. i know we stand with the community and support them. i know i have spoken to the minister of tennessee graduate and will offer any assistance they need for this terrible moment. i may also say a few words what is now a tropical storm, not hurricane, henri, which made landfall at approximately 12:1lipm this afternoon on rhode island. henri is impacting much of the north—east right now and i want to talk about her efforts to prepare and respond to this storm. we are closely monitoring henri's progress and making necessary preparations. fortunately it is no longer a hurricane and has been downgraded to a tropical storm. we are taking it seriously, though, because the size and the storm surge and the rainfall it is producing. it is also impacting an area of the country that has already experienced heavy rainfall over the past several days
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and while new englanders are used to dealing with some tough weather, this storm has the potential for widespread consequences across the region, with significant flooding and power outages that could affect hundreds of thousands of people. and so, we are doing everything we can now, to help those states prepare, respond and recover. i can't think of anyone better to lead this operation then... of fema. before she had a... three, she led the emergency response in new york city and she was the one at the key officials and heading up the response to super storm sandy. she knows this area and knows what it needs better than anyone. yesterday i talk to each of the governors in the key states most likely to be hit. i urge them to take advantage
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of the assistance fema can offer and committed support their communities through the storm and afterwards. fema has already pre—positioned region to speed our response to food, water life—saving communications equipment, as well as generators. in close cooperation with the electrical sector, preparations are in place to address significant power outages and resources and support staged at the edge of this to be able to move quickly to help. thousands of crews from other states are already heading towards the impacted states in new england. we need to serve them and me then as soon as feasible. they will clean—up fallen trees and help repair damaged lines and restore damaged lines as
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fast as possible. i want to thank these people for helping citizens in time of need. i have already approved emergency declarations for rhode island, connecticut and new york, which activates funds and means we can get in there and help as soon as this extreme weather moves through. we don't know the full extent of the strong's impact today, but we are acting to prepare for and prevent damage as much as possible and to speed help to affected communities so they can as quickly as possible. i also want to encourage everyone to do their part to prepare. follow the guidance from local authorities. some places have already experienced the high winds and dangerous storm surges. this is going to continue across much of the north—east, so it is important to monitor... inaudible in your home and community. make sure you have supplies for your entire household, including necessary medications or food,
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water, battery powered radios in case of an extended power outage. and don't forget that you may need... in the delta variant of covid—19, so wear a mask and try to observe social distancing. and everyone across the country, don't get caught by the next storm. get vaccinated. get vaccinated now. protect yourself and your family against covid—19. it is going to be against covid—19. it is going to be a vital part of emergency preparedness for the remainder of this year. now let me turn to afghanistan. i have continued to make progress since i have spoken to on friday. we have moved thousands of people each day by us military aircraft and civilian charter flights. a little over... in a little over 30 hours this weekend, we have evacuated an extraordinary number of people, as i will detail. it is about 11,000 individuals. that
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number will change day today at the air and ground operations continue. 0urfirst priority is air and ground operations continue. our first priority is getting americans out of the country as quickly and safely as possible. my direction as state department continues to reach out to the remaining americans we have identified by phone, e—mail and other means to ascertain their whereabouts of their plans. executing a plan to move groups of these americans to safety and to safely and effectively move them to the airport compound. for security reasons, i am the airport compound. for security reasons, iam not the airport compound. for security reasons, i am not going the airport compound. for security reasons, iam not going into the airport compound. for security reasons, i am not going into the detailed plans of the tale, but i will say again today, as i have said before, any american who wants to get home will get home. we have also been evacuating the citizens of our nato allies and our partners, including the diplomats, embassy staff, who remain in afghanistan, to get back to their homes as well. and as we do this, we are also working
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to move our afghan allies, who stood with us side by side and other vulnerable afghans such as women leaders and journalists, out of the country. as of this morning, we have evacuated nearly 28,000 people since august the 1ath, on both us and coalition aircraft, including civilian charters. that brings the total number of people we have evacuated since july two approximately 33,000 persons. evacuated sincejuly two approximately 33,000 persons. in 12a—hour period this weekend, 23 us military flights, including 1a c seventeens, nine c 130 military flights, including 1a c seventeens, nine c130 flights, left kabul, carrying 3000 plus passengers. we see no reason why this will not be kept up. during the same period, the military facilitated five charter flights, carrying an additional... inaudible to other countries that are taking them out. altogether we have
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got approximately 11,000 people out of kabul in less than 36 hours. it is an incredible operation. let me be clear. the evacuation of thousands of people from kabul is going to be hard and painful, no matter when it started or when we began. it would have been true if we had started a month ago or a month from now. there is no way to evacuate this many people without pain and loss and the heartbreaking images you see on television. it is just a fact. my heart aches for those people you see. we are proving that we can move those thousands of people a day out of kabul. we are bringing our citizens, need allies... inaudible who have helped the war effort and we had a long way to go, and a lot to do, but to move out 30,000 people a week, that is a great testament to the men and women on
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the ground in kabul and our services. it also reflects a tireless diplomatic effort. the steady flow of planes taking off from kabul increases our evacuation capacity. we have quickly stood up in an unprecedented global effort and established processing stations in third countries. in short, we are not flying them directly to their country, we are flying them directly to these processing stations. we are working with more than two dozen countries across four continents. we have secured agreements with the gulf... across the gulf, in central asia and in europe, including processing centres in germany, kuwait, spain and elsewhere. it allows us to sort and process these evacuees. imagine these transit centres provide a safe place for the siv applicants and other vulnerable afghanis and their families to complete their paperwork while we conduct security screenings and
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background checks before they continue on to their final destination in the united states or another country, or one of our nato allies as well. and so, from asia to africa, from europe to the western hemisphere, nations are making generous offers to support resettlement efforts. i have been in personal contact with the leaders of many countries, including germany, spain, italy, the uae and many others. they are making vital contributions. i want to thank them to for their support and to discuss how we can continue to coordinate our efforts in afghanistan moving forward and that is the reason i continue to contact them. i want to again thank all of our partners for continuing to stand together. we have also activated the first stage of what is referred to as the civil reserve air fleet to help with the onward movement of evacuees from each of these transit centres. military aircraft will get them to the centres, but then we will get the centres, but then we will get the civil reserve fleet, which is a
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programme that was designed in the wake of the berlin airlift after world war ii, to use commercial aircraft to augment our airlift capacity. this is a voluntary programme for our commercial airlines and we are grateful for those airlines and us air carriers who are supporting this. this will only use three or four planes from each of the major carriers, vast fleets of aircraft, so there should be no or minimal effect on commercial air travel and we will stay in close coordination with our partners to mitigate any impact. the civil reserve flights will be helping facilitate the safe movement of people from transit centres like the one in germany to the united states or to another country. none of them will be landing in kabul. the american airline planes be going to any countries... inaudible as this unfolds, i want to be clear
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about three things. planes taking


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