Return to Transcripts main page


Report: Uyghur Families Divided by Chinese Government; Growing Number of Migrants Trying to Cross into U.S.; State TV Shows Coup Leader Attending ASEAN Video Conference; Netanyahu Courts Arab Voters Ahead of Fourth Election; CDC Studies Show Worsening of Mental Health in Parents, Kids; Confrontational Start To U.S. China Talks In Alaska; European Medicines Agency: Vaccine Does Not Cause Blood Clots; Putin To Biden: "It Takes One To Know One"; Across France, Patient Admitted To COVID ICU Every Four Minutes; U.S. Sends 1.5 Million Vaccines To Canada. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired March 19, 2021 - 01:00   ET



MICHAEL HOLMES, ANCHOR, CNN NEWSROOM: Vladimir Putin responds to Joe Biden saying he considers him a killer. The latest on the growing tension.

Plus, the U.S. warns China to respect a rules-based international order or face a quote, more violent world. Then China fires back.

And E.U. regulators say that AstraZeneca vaccine is safe to use as countries line up to restart their vaccine rollouts.

Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us all around the world. I'm Michael Holmes, appreciate your company. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

Well, the temperature in Anchorage, Alaska is about oh, minus eight degrees Celsius right now. But things have gotten pretty heated in talks between the U.S. and China.

The country's top diplomats were hoping to smooth relations strained by the Trump presidency but, in its opening statement, China warned the U.S. to stay out of its internal affairs, including Hong Kong and Taiwan.

U.S. Secretary of State Tony Blinken says he will raise not only those issues but also, China's treatment of Uyghur Muslims.


ANTHONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: We'll also discuss our deep concerns with actions by China including in Xinjiang, Hong Kong, Taiwan, cyberattacks on the United States, economic coercion toward our allies.

The alternative to a rules-based order is a world in which might makes right and winners take all. And that would be a far more violent, and unstable world for all of us.


HOLMES: Now reporters were being ushered out of the room after the opening statements but then Blinken asked them to stay on so he could expand on his remarks. And that prompted an angry response from the Chinese delegation.


YANG JIECHI, CHIEF DIPLOMAT, CHINESE MISSION TO ALASKA (Through Translator): When I entered this room, I should have reminded the U.S. side of paying attention to its tone in our respective opening remarks but I didn't.

The Chinese side felt compelled to make this speech because of the tone of the U.S. side.

Isn't this the intention of the United States judging for the way that you have led your opening remarks, that it wants to speak to China in a condescending way from a position of strength.


HOLMES: A senior U.S. official says once the parties got behind closed doors, things were more substantive, serious and direct.

CNN's Kristie Lu Stout joins me now from Hong Kong to talk about it.

They're pretty quite extraordinary opening salvos there in Alaska. What did you make of it; public jockeying or a bad sign?

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The opening was rough but as you mentioned just then, the first session of the talks just wrapped and a senior Biden Administration official is saying that these talks were substantive and they were direct.

But in those opening remarks, it was a rocky start with those opening remarks of this important two-day dialog in Alaska the first face-to- face meeting between the Biden Administration and senior Chinese officials just descended into those scenes of heated confrontations that were all caught on camera.

And this was expected. Because a tone of confrontation was already established in the run up to this meeting. That tone was set when U.S. officials met with key allies in the region, Japan and South Korea, and used pretty hardline language slamming China for its destabilizing actions in the region.

The tone was already set when the quad meeting took place last week with four nations, U.S., Australia, Japan and India meeting, their leaders getting together. These are four countries that have very fraught relations with China.

And the tone was set when, of course, the U.S. State Department announced those sanctions against 24 Chinese officials for undermining democracy here in Hong Kong.

So going into this meeting we kind of knew it was going to be testy. Michael.

HOLMES: Yes. I guess there so many aspects to the relationship and a lot of it is pretty strained. Is there any confidence there could be much in the way of substantive agreement?


HOLMES: There's so many hurdles and some of them are pretty high or do you think this meeting is more about just having -- looking each other in the eye and taking stock?

STOUT: The hurdles are pretty quite high right now, the expectations are rather low. Already it's been established that this is not a formal, strategic dialog. No deliverables are expected, no joint statement should be expected as well.

Last week, we heard from the U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken who said any potential follow up meetings would really depend on tangible progress.

And it's kind of early to make a call right now but from what we saw in those opening remarks both sides, U.S. and China, are doubling down right now.

The U.S. saying that it is defending a rules-based order, China hitting back saying don't meddle and don't infringe with our internal affairs.

It's really hard to see these two sides coming together and pushing forward on issues, very important existential issues, outside the areas they can obviously cooperate on. Like climate change.

Back to you.

HOLMES: Yes. Some pretty important ones. Yes, Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong. Always good to get your thoughts, appreciate it.

Now as tensions rise with China, we're also seeing President Biden take on Russia. The Kremlin firing back after Biden took a swipe at the Russian leader.

Mr. Putin now challenging him to hold online talks in the next few days unscripted and live, something the White House seems to be pouring cold water on.

CNN's Matthew Chance with more on this deteriorating, diplomatic relationship.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know you and you know me.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CHANCE (Voice Over): This is the moment U.S-Russian ties fraught by fresh allegations of election meddling and the poisoning of a key Russian opposition figure plunged to a new low.



CHANCE: With just a few words, President Biden signaled his intolerance of Russian misdeeds. And, unlike his predecessor, who fawned over the Russian leader, Vladimir Putin, a willingness to call out the Kremlin strongman.

He looks relaxed, marking the seventh anniversary of Russia's annexation of Crimea. But Putin is clearly furious.

Facing the promise of yet more painful U.S. sanctions in the weeks ahead, he's recalling Russia's ambassador from Washington for consultations. The first time that's happened in decades.

And issuing a snide response to the killer insult.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (Speaking in Foreign Language):

CHANCE: "I wish him well and good health. And I mean that without any joking or irony," Putin said of Biden via videoconference.

Some cast it is as a veiled threat from a leader who kills his critics.

It looks more like a wink to rampant speculation on Russian state TV alleging that Biden's mental health is faltering due to old age.

Maybe he just forgot to take his pills, one state anchor jokes about the Biden's remarks.

It's age-related dementia, says another. A triumph for political insanity.

Putin also trolled Biden by citing an old Russian children's joke to deflect the killer tag.

You are what you call others, he says. It takes one to know one, in other words.

The playground retort that sums up the worst diplomatic spat between these nuclear rivals for years.

It was a falling out waiting to happen. When Biden first met Putin as U.S. vice president in 2011, he says he told him he didn't think he had a soul and warned the Russian leader not to run for another Kremlin term.

Ten years on, with fewer than 100 days in office, President Biden has toughened his Russia stance even more. CHANCE (Voice Over): Matthew Chance, CNN, Moscow.


HOLMES: Europe's Medicines Agency has confirmed what top health experts have been saying all along. And that is that the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine is safe.

The regulator announced the results of its emergency review Thursday saying it did not find that the vaccine causes blood clots.

That's after reports of clotting in a small number of vaccinated people caused at least 16 European countries to hit pause on the vaccine and further delay the region's already sluggish vaccination campaign.


EMER COOKE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, EUROPEAN MEDICINES AGENCY: The committee came to a clear, scientific conclusion. This is a safe and effective vaccine.

Its benefits in protecting people from COVID-19 with the associated risks of death and hospitalization outweigh the possible risks.

We still cannot rule out definitively a link between these cases and the vaccine.



HOLMES: Now despite that lingering caveat, many of the countries that suspended the vaccine say they are now ready to use it again. But they're coming under growing scrutiny.

It is feared their what some call knee-jerk reactions may have set back overall vaccination efforts.

CNN's Scott McLean has further details on the AstraZeneca review. And the latest votes of confidence.


SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, some European countries are already beginning to restart the rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine after a brief pause over concerns about blood clots in a very small number of cases.

The European Medicines Agency, the E.U. vaccine regulator, announced the results of an urgent scientific review and found that the benefits of the vaccine still far outweigh the risks.

The review found that the rate of blood clots was less than the number that would be expected to occur normally. They also found that there were no quality issues or problems with any specific batch of the vaccine.

However, it also found that it could not completely rule out a possible link between the vaccine and two very rare types of blood clots so it's now recommending that the shots come with warnings to both patients and doctors for awareness but not to deter anyone from getting the shot.

COOKE: If it was me, I would be vaccinated tomorrow. But I would want to know that if anything happened to me after vaccination what I should do about it. And that's what we're saying today.

MCCLEAN: Almost 20 million doses of the vaccine have been given across the U.K. and the E.U. And there have been barely two dozen cases of those two very rare types of blood clots combined.

A review by the British vaccines regulator also found the blood clots were no more frequent in vaccinated people.

The prime minister, Boris Johnson, is due to get his vaccine on Friday. And he has made sure to point out that he's getting the AstraZeneca shot.

MCCLEAN (On Camera): Scott McLean, CNN, London.


HOLMES: Joining me now from La Jolla, California is Dr. Eric Topol. He's a cardiologist and professor of molecular medicine with Scripps Research. Doctor, good to see you again.

First of all, with AstraZeneca. How important is this decision in the overall battle against COVID-19?

DR. ERIC TOPOL, CARDIOLOGIST: Well, good to be with you, Michael.

It is a very important decision because this is the one vaccine that is the largest influence in the world. So we really want this to succeed and it's good that the European authorities, regulators, have given a go.

It's unfortunate that we've had to go through this because it does undermine some trust but it's a very positive step.

HOLMES: How much of the issue, the doubts, from your perspective, have been fact-based as opposed to emotions and fear? And to that point, is there a need for more transparency on these incidents, more data?

TOPOL: Well, Michael, you've really hit on it. The transparency problem is a big one. We've not seen the actual details of these various cases.

And we wouldn't be worried about things like a deep vein thrombosis or a pulmonary embolism but we've known now whether it's in Norway, in Germany, in other places, that there are very usually even though exceedingly rare, unusual cases, some of them fatal in young people, particularly in women.

And they were also related to very low platelet counts and this syndrome that we call ITP. So that has been noted to be related to vaccines, not just the COVID vaccines but others.

And it's of concern because we've not seen this data. And it's also important not just for this vaccine but if it crops up with the other vaccines that are ongoing. So I hope, I wish that we'll see all that.

HOLMES: You touched on this, and let's revisit. What are the risks of damage done by this whole incident in terms of vaccine hesitancy, confidence in the vaccines in general.

I was reading 47 percent of Donald Trump voters, for example, say they're not going to get one. And there was a survey in the journal "Nature Medicine," showing that many European countries, the number of those hesitant was also high.

TOPOL: Right. So what you're referring to is even when there are vaccines that had very high efficacy, right, 95 percent and none of this issue with respect to a concern and safety problem. So there is a hesitancy issue.

But this doesn't help, particularly since it has such a broad influence throughout the world.

We are going to see the U.S. trial for AstraZeneca in just a couple of weeks, Michael, and that'll help. Because if that has a signal of high efficacy and we see no further problems of these clotting events, that'll help bolster it. But certainly, short-term there's a hit.


In fact, there's a paper today from Denmark showing indeed there's been a decrement (ph) of confidence and trust in this vaccine.

HOLMES: Yes. And again, to take that a step further. What is the impact of sizable numbers of people not getting vaccine when you look at the trajectory of the virus?

TOPOL: Right. Well, here again, now we are in Europe with the beginning of a fourth surge in many countries. And this is not a good time for there to be the hesitancy and resistance.

Obviously, we want as many people as quickly as we can to get vaccinated. And especially because of this particular B.1.1.7, the U.K. strain, that's causing lots of trouble around the world right now.

HOLMES: Yes. And you mentioned the European countries warning the beginning of a third wave. But also we've seen just a terrifyingly horrible situation in Brazil where it's been mismanaged from the top down and we've seen the results of that.

When we talk about variants, what's happening in Brazil in terms of rampant spread, that is exactly what variants want, mutations want, right?

TOPOL: Exactly. So there is a different variant there but it shares a lot of the features with the South African one. It's called P1 and it has this immune evasion.

And that's why we saw in Brazil where there had been already a very high rate of infections that people were getting reinfections and that there was now very rapid rise.

So South America, Brazil, is leading but many of the countries in South America are also showing this new wave and much of that is related to a variant of concern.

It's different than the U.K. variant. The one in the U.K. is just highly transmissible and now there are two studies that it has higher lethality.

The variants in Brazil and what we've seen in South Africa, they're different. Their main issue is that they can at least partially evade our immune response.

Fortunately, it hasn't evaded our vaccine management. So the hope in Brazil and throughout South America will be that they really rev up the vaccination which has been slow in most countries, except for in Chile.

HOLMES: Dr. Eric Topol, as always, thank you so much.

TOPOL: Thanks very much, Michael.

HOLMES: We're going to take a quick break. When we come back on CNN NEWSROOM.

A new Amnesty International report accuses China of separating thousands of Uyghur families.

We'll speak to one of the authors.



Welcome back.

The European Medicines Agency has once again deemed, as we said, the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine safe and effective. That is what top experts have been saying from the start.

So all the countries you see here are resuming their own vaccine. You can see it there. Scandinavia not quite there yet.

Now the agency concluded that the vaccine is not associated with a higher risk of blood clots as had been feared but could not completely rule out a link to the rare clotting disorder that a miniscule number of vaccinated people experienced. Now we have mentioned how France is among the countries restarting the

AstraZeneca rollout. It comes as the nation grapples with a third wave of the virus with new cases continuing to mount.

CNN's Jim Bittermann has more from Paris.


JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SNR. EUROPEAN CORRESPONDENT: After French President Macron abruptly suspended the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine on Monday, the prime minister told a national television audience that with the stamp of approval of the European Medicines Agency it can again be used in France starting Friday.

And perhaps to repair public faith in the vaccine, he said that he himself would be getting an AstraZeneca shot tomorrow afternoon.

The authorities here now want to speed up France's lagging vaccination program given the constant rise -- constantly rising hospitalizations and infections.

And a further measure, the prime minister spelled out restrictions in large parts of the country including an area around Paris that stretches all the way to the English Channel.

It's not necessarily as strict as previous lockdowns but the rules will again close non-essential businesses and require people to walk around with written explanations of why they are out and about.

BITTERMANN (On Camera): Jim Bittermann, CNN, near Paris.


HOLMES: Now the new restrictions announced as France reported 35,000 new infections on Thursday. Cases are up more than 20 percent from the last week, hospitalizations also rising.

The prime minister says across the country one person is being admitted to intensive care with COVID every four minutes. Extraordinary.

Let's have a quick look at the global situation now. The world is nearing 122 million confirmed infections with about 2.7 million dead. Cases are still climbing in the three big hotspots, that is, of course, the U.S., Brazil and India.

Now the World Health Organization is warning that some African countries could soon be caught in a third wave of the pandemic. Infections rising in about a dozen countries; that includes Kenya, Cameroon and Ethiopia.

Iran still dealing with the most severe COVID outbreak in the Middle East. It has recorded nearly 1.8 million infections since this all began. And the government has ordered people to not travel for the Persian New Year which starts this weekend.

Now the Biden Administration finalizing plans to send millions of AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccines to Canada and Mexico who need them.

Both those countries have struggled to get enough vaccines meanwhile the U.S., Mexico and Canada are all extending travel restrictions to try to keep new infections out of their countries.

Paula Newton with the latest on Canada's efforts.


PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Canada announced today that its border with the United States would remain closed for at least another month. Now remember, the border has already been closed for a year since the pandemic began.

And remarkably, although this is one of the largest trading relationships in the world, it's gone rather smoothly.

Now that is to say if you speak to family members with people on both sides of the border they are, literally, aching for this border to reopen and be reunited. Unfortunately, no sign of that yet.

At issue as well is the tourism industry on both sides of the border. Now to that end to try and get this border reopened sooner rather than later, there is some vaccine diplomacy underway.

The United States announcing it would give Canada 1.5 million of its AstraZeneca doses in kind of like a trade. The United States has not approved AstraZeneca vaccine, Canada has. So Canada will take those early doses from the United States.

And I want you to listen now to Ontario's leader -- it is Canada's largest province -- and it's desperate for vaccines.

Take a listen.

DOUG FORD, PREMIER, ONTARIO, CANADA: God bless America, they're coming to our rescue. Thank God. I've been bugging Trump, I've been bugging Biden, all of them. They must be sick of Doug Ford asking for help.

But our greatest partner, our greatest trading partner, our greatest friend in the world, President Biden, thank you. And once I get them, I will call you the champion. But I need to get the delivery first.


So thank you and I appreciate it. We've been waiting -- that's what true neighbors do. You help each other out in a crisis. And I understand, they got to get their people done first, I'd be no different. But thank you.

Bring it on. If we have to go down there and pick them up, I'll drive down in my pick up and pick them up if we have to.

NEWTON: Premier Ford there being quite blunt, as you can see. The issue is that especially in Ontario, top doctors here are already

saying that look, we could be at the beginning of a third wave. In terms of how severe that third wave of this pandemic will be, vaccines are crucial.

So even 1.5 million doses coming into this country right now are crucial. Especially as those variants continue to spread throughout Canada.

NEWTON (On Camera): Paula Newton, CNN, Ottawa.


HOLMES: Parts of South Korea will be revising mandatory COVID testing rules for foreign workers. This after diplomatic missions and commerce organizations complained to authorities accusing them of xenophobia.

Seoul and neighboring Gyeonggi province are among those local governments that have the mandate. Now it's still unclear exactly what the modified policies will be.

A Canadian diplomat says the espionage trial of businessman Michael Spavor in China has ended without a verdict. Spavor, seen here on the right, and Michael Kovrig were detained in December of 2018 after Canada arrested a top Chinese executive in Vancouver on a U.S. extradition request.

Kovrig's trial is scheduled to start Monday. China has not disclosed any evidence against the men.

The Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, has condemned their arrests as political.

Just ahead here on CNN NEWSROOM. A new Amnesty International report accuses China of separating thousands of Uighur families. We'll speak to the author.

Also thousands of migrants, many of them children without their parents, are seeking entry into the United States.

CNN travels to the U.S. Mexico border and walks with some of them for the last few miles of their dangerous journey.

You don't want to miss this. We'll be right back.



HOLMES: Amnesty International says there may be thousands of Uyghur families worldwide separated by China's crackdown in Xinjiang. Their new report says some parents who fled the region years ago are unable to reunite with their children and many fear -- live in fear of returning to try to do so. China denies accusations of human rights abuses and says its Uyghur re-education campaign is about fighting violent terrorism.

But the author of the Amnesty Report says the Chinese government wants to gain a leverage over the Uyghur population residing abroad so that they would be able to stop them from engaging in activism and speaking out for their families and their relatives in Xinjiang.

Joining me now from Hong Kong, Amnesty International researcher, Alkan Akad (ph). Thanks so much for being with us.

I mean this report really does contain some pretty harrowing stories from parents cut off from their children. I mean what did you learn about how these children are separated, and then what happens to them?


I believe it is important to talk about -- a little bit about the background of what has been happening in the region, to understand why these families have been separated for years.

In 2016, the Chinese government launched a new policy, and started confiscating passports of Uyghur people in the region on a vast scale. And other families, they have tried to flee the country fearing that they wouldn't be able to do so in the near future.

And we know that in 2016, China launched an unprecedented crackdown on Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim people in the region. And an estimated of one million or more people have been detained in these internment camps, what Beijing calls as reeducation to -- transformation to reeducation.

And now, there is ample evidence that these people have been subjected to torture, ill treatment and solitary confinement, forced cultural assimilation. And this mass incarceration has rushed implications (ph), not only for those people who have been detained in these facilities, but also their family members, and their children. So we see that.

HOLMES: No, I understand, and some of the stories, as you say, are harrowing. So what has happened is people who had left, and left their children with family and so on, or were caught outside the country -- these people, their children, were then taken away from them, and they are unable to come back and get them. And if they do they'll likely be taken into custody too.

Which seems outrageous -- how many children are we talking about in this situation?

AKAD: Now, if you do basic math, there are 10 million Uyghurs in the region. And there is an estimated one million, perhaps even up to two million people had been detained in these facilities.

So I guess that makes around one in every two families have been detained in these facilities. So you could easily talk about thousands, tens of thousands, and perhaps even up to more people and children have been separated from their parents. And these parents have no idea that their children might be -- even if they are alive, safe and well.

HOLMES: So you've got these parents in countries around the world. I know they're in Australia, they're in Malaysia, they're in many countries -- Italy and so on.

And their kids are somewhere in the Chinese system, and the parents can't go back to get them otherwise, they'll be taken into custody.

I mean is this -- as the report suggests, a deliberate tactic by authorities to try to get them back, have that leverage over parents?

AKAD: Exactly. I mean these parent are in an impossible situation as you mentioned. They cannot go back. They cannot bring their children over. And the Chinese government goes to great lengths to cover up what has been happening in the region.


AKAD: And these include intimidating those Uyghurs residing guiding abroad, stopping them from not talking about what is happening to them and their family members.

And most of the time they are forced to go back to China. Then they apply to extend their passports at the Chinese consulates and embassies they are told that they have to go back to China to do that. So this is basically an attempt to cover up the scale of human rights violations that are taking place in the region.

HOLMES: Have you been able to evaluate what impact this would be having on those children, emotionally, psychologically?

AKAD: It is really difficult to assess the extent of the impacts on the children mostly because China refuses to give access to human rights organizations and journalists and United Nations experts to the region so that we can investigate what is really happening, on what scale in these facilities.

But, based on our -- the testimonies we received, we know that these children are not allowed to speak in their mother tongue. And they are not allowed to speak to their families and relatives let along see them.


AKAD: And we can just imagine this is, probably, one of the biggest human rights violations in the world happening now, if not the biggest.

HOLMES: It must be -- it must be agonizing for parents and children alike.

We've got to leave it there. Alkan Akad with Amnesty International joining us from Hong Kong. Thank you so much.

AKAD: Thank you.

HOLMES: And for more on this report, visit our Web site at

Now, the U.S. Border Patrol says it has encountered 32 large groups of migrants along the border with Mexico since October. We're talking about groups of a hundred or more. And CNN has learned that more than 4,500 children, seeking entry into the U.S., are now in custody.

CNN's Rosa Flores joined one group near the border for the last few miles of their dangerous journey.


ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): These are the South Texas Trails used by thousands of migrants like these unaccompanied teenagers from Guatemala, to make their way into the U.S.

And sometimes they encounter deputy constable Dan Broyles as he patrols the border with Mexico.

16-year-old Kevin gets emotional, as he shares that he'd been traveling for a month sometimes without food or water. His father waits for him in Pennsylvania.

17-year-old Allen's voice breaks as he explains his grandma -- who takes care of him, stayed behind in his gang-ridden neighborhood.

Border authorities in the Rio Grande Valley are encountering about a thousand migrants a day according to a federal source, many of them, unaccompanied minors. Evidence mothers and children are on the trail litter the landscape -- diapers, children's clothing, and masks.

(on camera): Documents left behind by some of the migrants tell part of their story. In this case, it looks like a 34-year-old mom from Honduras and her two-year-old son, they both tested for COVID before leaving their country and tested negative.

(on camera): So what do you look for when you patrol?

DAN BROYLES, BORDER PATROL: Well, what I'm looking for splashes of color that don't belong in the brush.

FLORES (voice over): He also looks down the paths that lead to the river for signs of life.

BROYLES: This is an indication sign.

FLORES: And he shows us the arrows posted by border authorities.

BROYLES: As you can see, that's a homeland security bag.

FLORES: And this one that reads "asilo" or asylum.

BROYLES: Camine a puente -- dos kilometros.

FLORES (on camera): Walk to the bridge -- two kilometers. BROYLES: That's two kilometers. Yes.

FLORES (voice over): What bridge? The bridge near the Rio Grande where immigration processing begins.

This is as close as our cameras can get. Border patrol is not granting media access. But with permission from deputy constables who patrol alongside federal authorities --

BROYLES: Three constables officers in charge of approximately 22 miles of international border.

FLORES: We got our eyes and ears on the ground.

(on camera): Did you come alone?

(voice over): This teen says he paid a smuggler after a recent hurricane flooded his single mom's home.

(on camera): How much did you pay?

(voice over): Or about $2,500.

(on camera): How did you get the money? Was it a little loan?

(voice over): Broyles' job ends here when he sends the teens off to Border Patrol. For the teens, it is just another step in an already uncertain journey.


(on camera): Along the banks of the Rio Grande, the land mass that you see behind me is Mexico. The man in charge of this portion of the border is Precinct 3 Constable Omeri Gallardo (ph) and he tells me that there is a constant dual challenge here.

Downriver, the smuggling of people; upriver, the smuggling of drugs. And the border patrol chief tweeting, "there is no end in sight".

Rosa Flores, CNN -- along the U.S.-Mexico border.


HOLMES: And still to come here on CNN NEWSROOM.

As Myanmar's pro-democracy protests continue, the U.N. says they are seeing even more human rights abuses. That is coming up next.

Also Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu looking to secure a victory in next week's general election -- yes, there is another one. Why he is now courting a demographic he often criticizes.


HOLMES: Human rights experts say Myanmar's generals are escalating the crackdown on pro democracy protesters. The U.N. experts say the abuses include arbitrary detentions and forced evictions at gunpoint. They say in the past week, at least 121 people have been killed by security forces.

Meanwhile, Myanmar's top general is trying to increase his influence on the world stage: state TV showing the general attending an online video conference with other ASEAN defense chiefs, his first international engagement since he seized power last month.

Paula Hancocks following all of this for us from Seoul. Bring us up to date, Paula.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Michael, that last part you mention is significant. This being the first international meeting for Min Aung Hlaing, the general who has taken control of the country in that military coup back on February 1st.

This is one thing the protesters and activists have been consistently calling for, in fact, also the U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar as well, calling on countries not to legitimize the military group that had taken over.

But what we've seen here is that state-run TV in Myanmar, so obviously it is going to favor the military, but it did show what appeared to be, a regular ASEAN defense ministers meeting.

Now there was no indication that the crisis was mentioned or discussed on this call, but clearly, being a state-run TV, it may not have shown that part.

But we have heard from just recently from the Indonesian Prime Minister Joko Widodo that he wants to call on ASEAN to have a high leaders-led meeting, on the situation in Myanmar. He is calling for democracy to be restored and for violence to end.


HANCOCKS: Now meanwhile, there have been some developments with the ousted leader Aung Sang Suu Kyi on state run media once again. They have a businessman who is reported now saying that Aung Sang Suu Kyi had received more than half a million dollars from him between the years of 2018 and 2020 saying that these were illegal payments.

Now this follows on with what we have been hearing from the military last week as well saying that they believe they are investigating suspicion of bribery, her lawyer says there is no truth to it, Michael?

HOLMES: All right. Paula Hancocks across all of that for us. Appreciate it there in Seoul.

Israelis head to the polls again next week. It is the fourth general election in two years and another tight race is looming. The Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu taking a different approach, this time hoping to secure a win by turning to a voting bloc he has often overlooked.

CNN's Hadas Gold reports.


HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Just last year, a campaign video like this from Benjamin Netanyahu would've been unthinkable.

"Abu Yair", literally the father of Yair, an Arabic language way of embracing the Israeli Prime Minister. Contrast that with this video from 2015 -- stoking fear of Israel's 20 percent Arab minority, to scare his Likud Party base to get out and vote.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): The rule of the right is in danger. Arab voters are moving in droves to the polling stations. Left wing organizations are bussing them in.

GOLD (on camera): This election is expected to be so close, that one or two seats could determine who will be the next prime minister. That is why you are seeing a possibly surprising sight from Benjamin Netanyahu campaigning amongst an electorate he was previously accused of deriding.

(voice over): Netanyahu's Likud Party has new promises to these voters -- peace agreements with (INAUDIBLE) allies and a cabinet position for a special minister of Arab affairs.

TZACHI HANEGBI, ISRAELI CABINENT MEMBER: We are surprised to see that it is working. It is effective. They really believe in cooperation with the Likud. So we went on with this strategy. And so far so good.

GOLD: It may be working. A recent poll by Tel Aviv University found nearly 25 percent of Israeli Arab voters think Netanyahu is the best candidate for prime minister.

In the village of Taibeh (ph), the tension ahead of this election is evident on the street where Jewish-Israeli protesters try to convince the locals to vote against the prime minister.

One of them yelled at passing cars that Netanyahu is a liar, and that they need to kick him out. But he is interrupted by a local man Asvarga Ismael (ph) who says there's no one like Bibi. Only Bibi Netanyahu. There is no one stronger that him.

Not everyone in Taibeh is fan though. And for some of the disillusionment spreads across the Arab parties as well.

Mahmoud Amsha (ph) says that for the first time in his life, he may leave his ballot blank.

MAHMOUD AMSHA, ISRAELI VOTER (through translator): You don't have to be very smart to see that we are disappointed. First of all, violence crimes, murders, the murder of also women and children. Second thing infrastructure. Third thing all the unemployed people.

You know what, I am at home all the time because I don't feel secure. Shouldn't they care about me? GOLD: Dr. Ahmed Tibi (ph) is a veteran of Israeli politics, a member

of parliament here for more than 20 years. He says it's foolish for an Arab voter to think that voting for Netanyahu will give them power to address Arab issues.

DR. AHMED TIBI, MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT: Netanyahu is the problem. He is not the solution. He is the real rightist -- right ideology with opportunism. But he is a rightist.

GOLD: In such a small country, Netanyahu's success may hinge on whether he can convince just enough of these voters to forget the past.

Hadas Gold, CNN -- Taibeh, Israel.


HOLMES: Still ahead here on the program, it has been more than a year since the pandemic started. That means some of you might not have seen loved ones in 12 months or more. It also means some young people haven't been to school or seen friends for a long time.

Coming up, we're going to discuss how this crisis is impacting mental health for the young and the signs for parents to look for.



HOLMES: For more than a year, the COVID pandemic has forced many of you to juggle a new normal in isolation. Some of you, of course, having to work from home and many have kids who are attending school online.

Now for some, restrictions might be easy and you might be feeling perhaps a sense of relief at seeing the light at the end of that tunnel.

But whether or not that's the case, living a closed-off life for as close as many of you have, can take a toll and many studies are proving how much people are struggling right now.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, virtual learning may increase the risk to the mental health and well- being of children and parents. Of these parents who were surveyed with kids between the ages of 5 and 12, 54 percent reported kids with emotional distress.

Now there is a similar pattern for teens, 46 percent of parents surveyed said their teens were showing new or worsening mental health conditions since the beginning of the pandemic.

Dr. Anthony Fauci told CBS he is quote, "very much concerned about mental health issues and other long term effects of this pandemic".

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR ALLERGIES AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: People who have gotten infected and have had this prolong symptomatology, number one the economic effects that will last for a long time.

And then the other things, not only the mental health effects, but many people have put off routine types of medical examinations that they normally would've done.


HOLMES: Let's talk more now about the mental health challenges connected to the pandemic with Dr. Jess Shatkin. He is a professor of child and adolescent psychiatry and pediatrics at NYU in New York City. He's also the author of the book "Born To Be Wild, Why Teens Take Risks And How We Can Help Keep Them Safe".

Doctor, thanks you so much for your time. I mean, the findings I was reading in the studies are worrying, I mean one in three adolescents, that is nearly 33 percent, will meet the criteria for an anxiety disorder by the age of 18. Nearly half of parents say their teen is showing new or worsening mental health since the start of the pandemic.

I mean there has always been these issues with teens and adolescents. But briefly outline how the pandemic has made things worse.

DR. JESS SHATKIN, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY: So just as you say, there has always been difficulties with young people and mental health. And the more we look, the more we find.

Our diagnostic tools are getting better, our criteria are getting better, we're training more people, there is less stigma, thankfully. There is greater awareness, there's improve in treatments. And so there's lots of reasons why we're seeing more mental illness.

32 percent face an anxiety disorder but up to 50 percent have some psychiatric disorder during the teen years of 13 to 18.

And in the pandemic it's just amplified. It has put a huge magnifying glass on all of the difficulties that our kids are having. So things like social media, and all the fear of missing out has somehow amplified. And stress just in general, because people are having difficulty with their Internet connection or they're having difficulty getting exercise, having difficulty getting their school work and staying focused on projects.

There's stress all around them. Everyone is crowded at home. Space is limited. Some people can't get a good signal again and learn by Zoom. People don't have the money. They have food insecurity. So all of the things that normally are concerns have become amplified in this rarefied environment of a pandemic.

HOLMES: Yes. I guess, understandable in many ways. And that is sort of backed up by CDC reporting which came out Thursday. 54 percent of parents who's sure to received virtual instruction reporting emotional distress, compared to 38 percent of parents whose children were in person instructions.

Why does a pandemic hit kids psychologically more than say adults?

DR. SHATKIN: Kids have less control. You know, they don't have the retail therapy access to Amazon, or the drive a car to the beach. They are vulnerable. Their brain is still developing. They have less control in our society. They can't decide always where they're going and what they're going to do and how they're going to interact.


DR. SHATKIN: And because of all the growth that is ongoing, there are changes that happen with them regularly. And they're not as stable as adults.

It is a wonderful thing about childhood but it is also one of the things that makes them vulnerable during a time like this.

HOLMES: Again, that makes perfect sense. So what then are some signs parents should be on the lookout for and you know, what can parents do to alleviate these issues for our kids?

DR. SHATKIN: Absolutely. So typical signs would be changes in behavior, friend groups, school performance and basic biological or constitutional changes. Like changes in sleep, or appetite, memory, attitude, irritability and concentration.

And there is many things that parents can do. Parents can try, as they might, to engage with their kids more. To spend more time with them, not less. To try and engage in home activities together, exercise together, cooking together, taking care of the house together.

And that is in the event of course, that the parents can be home and be attentive to their kids. And that's the luckiest of us.

But there are huge challenges and in the case where your kid is really struggling, they're really falling off of their growth and developmental milestones, then getting them some help like seeing a psychologist or a psychiatrist or a counselor through the school is really important to do.

HOLMES: Yes. And telemedicine too. I think I read you commenting on that too. That's a big deal now. You can get tele-therapy as well.

Real quick because we're almost out of time. But do you worry that some of these impacts could be lasting, post pandemic. Or some of the pandemic cause issues hopefully just might abate?

DR. SHATKIN: Yes. I think that those kids who have a severe depressive episode or real addiction may struggle down the road. But thank goodness, we are pretty resilient as a species. We've been supremely adaptable that is how we have been so successful.

So we have had a lot of adversity during this time, I think most of us will come through this. Most of our kids will come through this successfully. There will be a few who are the worst for wear. But I'm quite optimistic that human development will prevail and that people will get back on their trajectory just as soon as we can put the support around them.

But that's not to say that some people haven't had more difficulties, haven't fallen off the track, as I said and are going to need a lot of support going forward.

HOLMES: Important issue and some great advice there. Dr. Jess Shatkin, thank you so much.

DR. SHATKIN: It's my pleasure to be with you. Thanks for having me.

HOLMES: Now before we go, just a quick reminder of CNN's "MY FREEDOM DAY SPECIAL", focusing on how people around the world are trying to end modern day slavery. The global forum airs this weekend right here on CNN.

Hear from hundreds of students across five continents on their efforts to spread awareness and eradicate modern day slavery.

I'm Michael Holmes. Thanks for spending part of your day with me. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @HolmesCNN. I will be back after the break with more CNN NEWSROOM.