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← 'That was a newborn baby': CNN reporter reveals dire situation at airport

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Showing Revision 4 created 08/20/2021 by Buzbee.

  1. After three weeks in Afghanistan,
  2. we join the crowds at Kabul Airport.
  3. Now, the only way
    out of the country.
  4. There is a huge block here.
    Lots of cars.
  5. Hundreds of people wait
    in the blistering heat,
  6. hoping for a flight out.
  7. So, we just managed
    to get into the airport compound,
  8. and uh, I have to say,
  9. it was pretty intense.
  10. It was just, like,
    this crush of desperate people,
  11. and screaming children,
  12. and women and babies,
  13. and um, yeah.
  14. It's not often you see
    desperation like that.
  15. The few people that do make it
  16. are exhausted and scared.
  17. But, they are the lucky ones.
  18. They've made it past
    the Taliban checkpoints,
  19. Afghan security guards,
  20. and, finally, the airport gate.
  21. But, they can't forget those
    who they left behind.
  22. We are getting out.
    We are happy for that.
  23. But we are heartbroken
    for our country,
  24. especially for those who can't get out,
  25. those who are stuck here.
  26. We are really heartbroken.
  27. Our heart bleeds for them.
  28. What do you feel for all the mothers,
  29. with young daughters who will now
  30. be growing up under Taliban rule?
  31. Pain. Lots of pain.
  32. [Airplane engine roars.]
  33. The back of a pretty long line now.
  34. Uh, transportation is under strain,
    they said.
  35. Obviously, the priority
  36. is getting children and babies
    out, as soon as possible.
  37. But, I think we will probably
    be here quite a while.
  38. Do you work for the U. S. military?
  39. Not military, but we are
  40. working with the Ministry of Defense
    in Afghanistan.
  41. But we also work with
    foreign people, too.
  42. So you have a visa?
  43. Yes. We have documents,
    and a visa, too.
  44. As we interview this couple,
  45. suddenly (there are)
    shouts behind us.
  46. A vehicle speeds through.
  47. [Car engine sputters past.]
  48. That's a newborn baby,
  49. that just flew past,
    in that vehicle.
  50. That was a newborn.
    Did you see the baby?
  51. It was this big.
  52. The baby, we find out,
    has heat stroke,
  53. and needs treatment.
  54. A reminder, for these families,
    that they are close to safety,
  55. but not there, yet.
  56. We stand in the blazing hot sun
    for hours,
  57. everyone seeking what shelter they can.
  58. [Child screaming, crying.]
  59. Patience wearing thin.
  60. It's an agonizingly slow process,
    but finally, we're allowed inside.
  61. Out on the tarmac, now safe,
    but the chaos continues.
  62. I have been waiting for two days.
  63. Yesterday, since 3 a. m.
  64. Yesterday since 3 a. m.?
  65. Yes.
  66. Tell me what the situation was like,
  67. trying to get in to the airport.
  68. It was really busy, and a lot of people
  69. were just fighting, and trying to
    make way for themselves.
  70. But, we pushed through.
  71. We are certainly some of
    the very lucky ones, here.
  72. Others, as you heard
    from that young man,
  73. have been waiting for two days.
  74. Others we saw getting turned around,
    sent back,
  75. told, "you don't have the
    appropriate paperwork."
  76. There is no question:
    everybody here is doing their best.
  77. But, it's not clear
    if it's fast enough.
  78. If enough people can get out.
  79. And how much longer they have,
    to finish this massive operation.
  80. [Jake] I want to bring in CNN's
    Clarissa Ward.
  81. She is on the phone,
    inside the Kabul airport.
  82. Clarissa, the Pentagon, today,
  83. put out several images
  84. that really get at the humanity,
    the sea of humanity there,
  85. and the compassion of
  86. the U. S. service members
    at the airport.
  87. You saw, of course, the Marine
    holding the baby.
  88. Another, 'fist bumping' a child
    going through processing.
  89. The lines of Marines on guard,
    directing a woman and child
  90. where to go for processing.
  91. Obviously, everyone doing
    the best they can, as you noted.
  92. The scene inside the perimeter,
    strikingly different
  93. than the one outside the gates.
  94. [Clarissa]
    Yeah, Jake. I mean, there is no question
  95. that everybody here is just
    doing their level best
  96. to try to mitigate the
    suffering and misery
  97. of the situation.
  98. We also saw, I saw,
  99. a young female soldier
  100. carrying an Afghan toddler boy.
  101. I've seen people
    helping those in wheelchairs.
  102. All sorts of acts of kindness
    and gentleness.
  103. But, the reality is
    that this situation
  104. is horrifying.
  105. I'm looking around now,
    at a sea of people
  106. lying on the floor.
  107. They are lying outside
    on the gravel.
  108. There is nowhere
    for them to sleep
  109. other than a cardboard box.
  110. They are cold. It's very chilly.
  111. There is no blanket.
  112. The bathrooms here are
    in a very bad state indeed.
  113. And there is no sense
    of how long these people
  114. are going to be here.
  115. For over eight hours today,
    no U. S. planes even left.
  116. So, there is now
    even more of a backlog,
  117. and a bottleneck, than there was.
  118. [Jake]
    Is there any sense of order,
  119. when it comes to
    the effort to determine
  120. who gets to come into the gates,
  121. that last perimeter
    where the U. S. is?
  122. And who does not?
  123. [Clarissa]
    I think, in the initial process...
  124. you know, there are so many
    "No's," along this chain...
  125. initially, it's sort of like,
  126. who can flash a document
    In the air,
  127. and who can push the hardest.
  128. Who has a young baby,
    or something like that.
  129. Or (who) is vulnerable,
    and at immediate risk.
  130. Then, as you get further
    along the chain,
  131. and closer to the air field,
  132. you go through
    State Department processing.
  133. And you really do have to show
    the appropriate paperwork.
  134. And that is where we saw
  135. quite a few people
    being turned around.
  136. They are all sort of manually
    escorted off the base.
  137. It does break your heart
    a little bit, to see that.
  138. Because, you can imagine,
    you know,
  139. you don't have all your paperwork
    in order,
  140. but you are still petrified
    of the situation.
  141. Ugh! To get that far,
    and get in,
  142. and still not be able to get out
    of the country,
  143. after all of that.
  144. It's a heartbreak.
  145. Jake, I'm walking outside now,
  146. because I am being told
    that our birds, our flights,
  147. might be taking off soon.
  148. So, forgive me if it's a little loud.
  149. [Jake] Okay. That certainly
    takes priority, Clarissa.
  150. We have seen images
    of armed U. S. forces,
  151. along the perimeter of the airport,
    and all week,
  152. the Pentagon has said,
    that U. S. troops
  153. have not been involved in
    any hostile interactions at the airport.
  154. But, of course, any wrong move
    could quickly change the situation.
  155. I have to believe
  156. that that is one of the considerations,
  157. as to why U. S. service members have been
  158. basically told to stay where they are,
    within the perimeter,
  159. because of the real, legitimate risk
    to service members,
  160. from not just the Taliban,
  161. but any one of
    the terrorist groups in the area.
  162. [Clarissa] There are so many
    different threats, here.
  163. So many different
    potential scenarios,
  164. where things could rapidly escalate
    to a very, very bad place.
  165. That's why there is
    a lot of tension in the air.
  166. Because everybody knows
    that this moment cannot last.
  167. It is going to be short-lived.
  168. And they have got to get it right.
  169. And they have got to get out
    as many people as they possibly can.
  170. Because they can't just
    go outside the wire,
  171. and start bringing people in manually.
  172. This is why the negotiations with
    the Taliban are so important.
  173. But the Taliban has a limit
    to how much they will tolerate.
  174. And a limit to how much those
    burly, surly fighters
  175. on the outer perimeter
    will tolerate.
  176. And so that's what makes it
  177. a potentially very dangerous
  178. It is like a powder keg.
  179. One thing goes wrong,
  180. and it all goes very wrong.
  181. [Jake] Well, Clarissa,
  182. I am so glad that you
    are getting on a plane to get out.
  183. I just want to say,
  184. on behalf of everybody here
    at CNN,
  185. and everybody who has been
    watching CNN,
  186. your reporting has been brave,
  187. and amazing, and with empathy,
    and with courage.
  188. We are so lucky to have you
    as a colleague.
  189. Thank you for what you have done
  190. to tell the story
    of what is going on there.
  191. [Clarissa] Thank you so much, Jake.
  192. Thank you from all of us,
    very much. Thank you.