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India Overwhelmed amid COVID-19 Surge; U.S. President Joe Biden Calls for COVID-19 Vaccine Patent Waivers in July; Human Rights Watch Says Israeli Treatment of Palestinians is Apartheid; Armenians in Jerusalem Praise Biden's Recognition; Kidnappers Kill Five Students Abducted from Nigerian University. Aired 12-12:45a ET

Aired April 27, 2021 - 00:00   ET




JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello and welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm John Vause.

Coming up on CNN NEWSROOM, India's catastrophic COVID surge, hitting with such speed and ferocity, hospitals overwhelmed, bodies left in the street and worldwide numbers are being driven to record highs.

Human Rights Watch makes the case that Israel's treatment Palestinians amounts to apartheid. The Israelis say it's all legal fiction mixed with false accusations.

Business is booming in Nigeria, kidnapping schoolchildren for ransom.


VAUSE: A surge in new COVID infections globally appears to be driven by an out-of-control pandemic in India which accounted for almost half of all new infections in the past 24 Hours. A second wave of the coronavirus hit India like a tsunami, overwhelming hospitals now turning away patients due to a shortage of beds, ventilators, medical supplies.

But the most serious problem right now is the lack of oxygen. On Monday, with just 40 minutes before supplies were exhausted, one hospital issued a desperate plea for help on Twitter.

A new prediction model from the University of Washington, believes the outbreak is still weeks away from peaking. The middle of next month India's daily death toll could be 4 times higher than it is right now. That's more than 13,000 dead each day. Right now the number of dead has overwhelmed crematoriums left struggling to cope. CNN's Vedika Sud has that.


VEDIKA SUD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: These raging fires will continue all day and through the evening, the surge in cases being so much that there is a waiting for these bodies to be put on the pyre by family members.

There's a few outside, just waiting for the final rites to end for a family member who has died of COVID-19.

Body after body being brought into this crematorium in India's national capital, New Delhi, that has seen a huge surge, not only in cases but in fatalities as well. Family members pulling out bodies such as this one, from ambulances lined up in this crematorium ground, taking them for cremation.

They've grown up with these people, they've lived with them and now it's time to say their final goodbyes.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): My uncle died at about 11:15 pm on April 24th. The hospital didn't inform us. When we called the help desk, we were told he was no more.


SUD: One of the more heartbreaking scenes was when a 27-year old was picking up the ashes of his 49 year-old mother. His brother is still in hospital, recovering from COVID-19. While his father has just got home after recovering from infection.

I'm standing right behind another crematorium, this time in South Delhi, where you can see about 50 people at work here. They're trying to get 100 platforms ready, this is going to be a makeshift crematorium because of the increase, the exponential increase in fatalities, we believe, that this makeshift crematorium should be ready in the days to come.

I'm standing outside a COVID emergency ward at a top hospital in New Delhi, it is here that a lot of people have been coming and almost begging for beds and oxygen for their loved ones.

If you look at all these cars, starting from here, almost a dozen parked right outside this emergency ward, they are asking just for beds and oxygen, which they have been denied as of now, because there are no beds available, according to officials inside this hospital.

They are old people here, old women, old men. There are even younger people who are gasping for breath in these cars. They're just waiting for the one lucky moment where they get a bed inside this facility.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I brought my father, here there are no beds, there are people who are in the corridors, lying on the floor. And the very first portion says that (INAUDIBLE) PCR test, what is the infection rate?

Am I getting oxygen cylinder?

For which I wasn't aware of, I thought this is what the hospital would provide. SUD: Relatives of patients suffering from COVID-19 have been waiting

for ambulances to take them home but these ambulances have been so busy getting patients here out of crematoriums that has been extremely difficult for them to get the sick ones home after being denied a bed -- Vedika Sud, CNN, New Delhi.


VAUSE: India's spiral into COVID hell began weeks ago, finally now help is on its way. Many countries have offered vaccines, medical supplies, PPE as well as oxygen. CNN's Anna Coren falling all this live from Hong Kong.

On the oxygen, issue, is it an overall supply issue or is it a supply chain issue?


VAUSE: There are shortages caused by distribution problems?

ANNA COREN, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: John, it's hard to get a straight answer out of the Indian government. We know that India is one of the largest manufacturers of industrial and medical oxygen.

But many of these plants are outside the major cities in other states, so trying to get the oxygen into the capital, New Delhi, has proved problematic. Hence we are seeing the acute shortage of oxygen in hospitals. It doesn't seem to have the infrastructure in place to get the oxygen supply from these plants to the hospitals.

The Indian air force has been brought in to move oxygen tankers around the country. You mentioned that international aid that is coming in, so much of, that is going to be the ventilators, oxygen generators, oxygen concentrators as well as the testing, the PPE. This aid, desperately needed but it is needed now.

You mentioned those numbers earlier from the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. That is frightening, to think that what we are seeing coming out of India on a daily basis, and we have had 5 consecutive days of global records, very shortly, we are going to hear the latest numbers from the health ministry.

But come mid May, it will finally peak. The death toll will finally peak, that will be 4 times higher than what we are currently seeing.

What is that going to do in the meantime to the hospital system, that is on the verge of collapse?

We know that, in the best of times, India's private and public hospitals are pushed to the brink, let alone having all these people come in with their loved ones, who are gasping for air, needing oxygen.

We have spoken to hospitals that are turning patients away, because, unless they have their own oxygen cylinders, their own oxygen supply, they will not allow them in. You mentioned those SOSs being sent from major hospitals, hospital chains in New Delhi, pleading for help.

Vaccines obviously, John, a huge issue here. We know that after Prime Minister Modi spoke to the U.S. president Joe Biden, the U.S. is saying it'll released 60 million doses of AstraZeneca once it is approved by the FDA.

The White House saying that 10 million doses could go out in the next few weeks. According to the health ministry, more than 145 million doses have been administered since mid January. But it still only 1.8 percent of the population that has been fully inoculated. Such a huge hurdle ahead, John, that is India is facing.

VAUSE: Absolutely. Thank you, Anna Coren, live for us in Hong Kong.

India is the world's biggest producer vaccines and with the infection spreading unchecked, the government has ordered restrictions on exports. But as Anna mentioned, India's inoculation campaign has been slow and troubled, about 5 percent of the population is fully vaccinated, that's well behind United States as well as Europe.


VAUSE: Lawrence Gostin is the faculty director of the O'Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University, he joins us this hour from Washington, D.C.

It is good to see you, it's been a while.


VAUSE: There is a need in India for oxygen and PPE but that shouldn't overshadow the need for vaccinations in the medium term. That's where awaiting vaccine patents comes into, play.

How do we go from a waiver, which would be issued by the World Trade Organization, to speeding up vaccination production for countries like India and everywhere else around the world?

GOSTIN: Yes, I mean what we need, is we need to first transfer the know-how, the patents, the intellectual property and also have partnerships between pharmaceutical companies and governments, public- private partnerships.

That way, what we can do is we can help a country like India ramp up its production. It's already producing AstraZeneca vaccines and it's got a long history of producing vaccines; it's the largest vaccine producer in the world. It's technically very capable.

But it does need the intellectual property rights, it also needs the funding and the production capacity which we could help with, same way we've done in the United States, with the Defense Production Act.

We've managed to ramp up production in the United States. There is no reason we can't do that in India and other middle income countries with high technical capacity. VAUSE: Countries have been pushing for this waiver since October,

with the United States, U.K., Switzerland, Japan, Norway, Canada, Brazil and Australia opposed to this.


VAUSE: Almost as we're seeing a stark contrast in the position held by Joe Biden last, July, when he said that he would ensure intellectual property laws would not prevent other companies globally from mass producing COVID vaccines. He was a candidate for president at the, time here he is.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Absolutely, positively. This is the only humane thing in the world to do. So the answer is yes, yes, yes, yes. It's not only a good thing to do, it's overwhelmingly in our interest to do it as well.


VAUSE: What is the downside to doing what is absolutely, positively, the only humane thing to do here?

GOSTIN: Well, there really isn't any downside, other than protection of the profits, of pharmaceutical companies. I'm not a pharmaceutical company ambassador, in fact. I admire what U.S. ingenuity has done, what the pharmaceutical industry has done. They have done it with taxpayer money.

But nonetheless, there is no downside. We are in a once in a century pandemic, the global health emergency couldn't be more and there's a fire raging in India. It's blissful ignorance for us to think that fire won't spread eventually to the United States.

We have more and more variants showing up in India every day. They will find their way to Europe, the United States, the U.K. it's absolutely in our national interest to help them.

VAUSE: There does seem to be a counter argument here that the patent waiver is not the issue but rather production capacity. The Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates is in favor of that argument. Here's part of what he said to Sky News over the weekend.


BILL GATES, BILL AND MELINDA GATES FOUNDATION: There's only so many vaccine factories in the world and people are very serious about the safety of vaccines. So moving something that had never been done, moving to vaccine prom, say a J&J factory into a factory in India, that -- it's novel.

It's only because of our grants and our expertise that can happen at all. The thing that's holding things back in this case is not intellectual property. There's not like some idle vaccine factory with regulatory approval that makes magically safe vaccines. (END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: You know, Lawrence, I'm not really sure where Gates was actually going with this argument.

GOSTIN: We do know how to do, this we've ramped up lots of vaccine campaigns in the past. We've done it in the United States, they did it in the U.K., in Europe for COVID vaccines. There is no reason at all why a country like India couldn't do the same thing that we've done here in United States.

It's sheer hubris to think that we can do something but we can't help them do the same thing. I've often said, we can donate 60 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine, as President Biden has said and then will save you know, 60 million lives.

But if you can actually transfer the knowhow and the technology and ramp up production so that India can produce its own vaccines, you can save a country, not 60 million lives, the whole country of 1.4 billion people.

You can also save the world, because India has promised to the end there are major hope to being the engine to vaccinate the world. The United States is not doing that. So far the U.S., has been pretty much hoarding its vaccines, whereas India has been in the business of exporting vaccines until they got into a catastrophic situation itself with the COVID-19 pandemic.

VAUSE: On the issue of the AstraZeneca stockpile in the U.S., there is what sound like double talk coming from the White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, on Monday. Here she is.


JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Just to be, clear we right now have zero doses available of AstraZeneca. We are talking about what the FDA needs to go through a review, right?

To ensure the safety and it's meeting our own bar and our own guidelines. We expect there to be approximately 10 million doses that could be released if when the FDA, if or when the FDA gives us concurrence, which could happen in the coming weeks.


VAUSE: I could be, wrong that sounds like the kind of wordplay which the former Trump administration would be proud of.

GOSTIN: Well, you know I'm not proud of that that idea. India is in huge trauma at the moment. And to say that we don't have the vaccines, when they're self evidently sitting on our shelves and to say that we're going to wait weeks before we try to help them put out the fire.


GOSTIN: I do think that is unconscionable and it's wrong. We are acting like the AstraZeneca vaccine is not a safe, effective vaccine. The U.K. regulators, the E.U. regulators, the regulators in India and many countries around the world have approved it.

It has been administered in tens and hundreds of millions of doses around the world. It's proved to be highly safe, highly effective. Countries are clamoring after, so how the United States thinks there's a safety problem, I just don't know.

And what additional review we could possibly do, when it's already been thoroughly vetted by stringent regulatory authorities, it really is beyond me.

VAUSE: Lawrence, thank you so much, it's good to see you.

GOSTIN: It's really good to see you too, thanks.


VAUSE: Hospitals in Latin America are also facing a shortage of crucial medical supplies, especially vaccine. As CNN's Matt Rivers reports, there are now widespread calls for wealthier nations to help.


MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: As we watch what's happening in the United States right now, where it looks like the supply of different vaccines is maybe beginning to outpace the demand for those vaccines, it is the opposite that is happening right now in Latin America, where there remains critical vaccine shortages in just about every country across this region.

Considering what's happening in both in Mexico and Brazil, which 2 countries that combined make up for well over half of the population of Latin America and the Caribbean as a whole, in Mexico, less than 17 million doses in total have been administered so far.

And in Brazil, less than 5 percent of the population there has been fully vaccinated, according to the health ministry, who said on Monday that, due to a shortage of supply, the active ingredient used to make the CoronaVac vaccine, there could be delays in people receiving their second dose of the CoronaVac in that country.

That's why, as we move forward, we're going to see continued calls from different countries in this region, for countries like the United States to share their supply of the vaccine.

We have seen China and Russia try and step in, giving out different contracts for their vaccines across this region but there have been delays in the delivery of a lot on those supplies.

So as a result, calls for the United States and other countries to share their supplies of vaccines are only going to increase in the near future -- Matt Rivers, CNN, Mexico City.

(END VIDEOTAPE) VAUSE: The E.U. is suing vaccine maker, AstraZeneca, for breach of contract. At the center of this dispute is a commitment the company made to best reasonable efforts to deliver 180 million doses in the second quarter and a total of 300 million by the end of June.

Last month, AstraZeneca fell short of that target, saying it would deliver a third. The drugmaker argues this lawsuit is without merit.

On Friday, Turkey begins the strictest lockdown since the beginning of the pandemic. After nightly curfews and full weekend lockdowns failed to significantly slow new infections. A nationwide lockdown will be in place for 3 weeks.

Daily cases, falling in Turkey but it's still the sixth in the world for total infections. More than 4.5 million. Schools will move to online learning, traveling from one city to another requires government approval.

A new Human Rights Watch report has some scathing criticism for Israel. Just ahead, how it compares the treatment of Palestinians to apartheid.

Also just ahead, Russian prosecutors have frozen Alexei Navalny's political movement across the country. What does that mean for the Kremlin critic's supporters, just ahead.





VAUSE: For the first time, a major international human rights group has laid out the case that Israel's treatment of Palestinians is apartheid and a crime against humanity. Human Rights Watch says the government is committed to a policy of domination by Jewish Israelis.

Palestinians are subject to systemic oppression and inhumane acts. It points to what it calls the Ukrainian (ph) military rule of growing Jewish settlements in Palestinian Territories and the demolition of Palestinian homes and checkpoints and other restrictions on people's movement.

The process says many of the things that cannot be justified on security concerns.


VAUSE: With me now is Eric Goldstein, the acting executive director of Human Rights Watch for the Middle East and North Africa division.

Eric, thank you for being with us.

ERIC GOLDSTEIN, HRW MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA: Thank you. Thank you for having us.

VAUSE: This apartheid case against Israel has been flown over the years. Notably, in January, this is the only human rights organization also published a report, arguing that the key tool they use to implement the principle of Jewish supremacy is engineering space geographically, demographically and politically.

Jews go about their lives in a single contiguous space, where they enjoy full rights and self determination. In contrast, Palestinians live in a space that is fragmented into several units, each with a different sort of rights, given or denied by Israel but always inferior to the rights accorded to Jews.

How does this all fit in with what is in your report, this 200 plus- page lengthy report?

GOLDSTEIN: Our report looks at apartheid as a legally defined crime. We are not making analogies to any other countries, such as South Africa. The crime has 3 elements. One is the intent for one people to dominate over another people, a system of severe oppression and domination and inhumane acts that are committed toward that end.

We found that those conditions are present, especially in the occupied Palestinian Territories. And we can give many examples of severe discrimination.

VAUSE: Even before this report was released, there was a lot of criticism by many within Israel. The Israeli law professor Gerald Steinberg said in the "Jerusalem Post," "Even though you deny this, there is an attempt to link apartheid South Africa, the regime was characterized by cruel and systematic institutionalized dehumanization, in contrast and notwithstanding, the ongoing conflict Israel's non Jewish citizens have full rights, including voting for Knesset," which is the parliament.

"Worse, exploiting the apartheid image in the context of the Israeli- Palestinian conflict is a cynical appropriation of the suffering of the victims of the actual apartheid regime. Richard Goldstone, a former justice of the South African constitutional court, wrote that, in Israel, there is no apartheid, nothing that comes close to the definition of apartheid under the 1998 Rome statute. It is an unfair and inaccurate slander against Israel."

So how do you respond to the criticism?

GOLDSTEIN: I think that Palestinians, wherever they are, have rights that are inferior to the rights of Jews. But it is different. Inside Israel, it is true; Palestinians have citizenship and can travel about freely.

However, they still suffer severe discrimination, vis-a-vis Jews. The situation is most dramatic, in the occupied Palestinian Territories. There, people have been, for 2 generations, deprived of their most basic civic rights.

VAUSE: On a granular level, there's a peace in "The Times of Israel," which points out the phrase, "Palestinian terrorism" that is nowhere in your report. The report mentions Hamas 13 times as a political party, never admits Israel, the United States, the European Union and others have designated Hamas a terrorist organization, as required by international law.

It says the report overlooks altogether other active Palestinian terrorist organizations, such as Islamic Jihad, the popular front for the liberation of Palestine. As far as HRW is concerned, "apparently, there is no Palestinian terrorism to discuss."

Their argument is, this report ignores the security threat Israel is facing, which is why these particular policies are put in place and it's counter to what the HRW report says, which is that security measures do not counterbalance the security threat.

Again, can you respond to that?

GOLDSTEIN: Of course. First, Human Rights Watch has, repeatedly, condemned acts of terrorism, targeting of civilians by groups, including Hamas, calling them crimes against humanity, rocketing into Israeli towns in the south as war crimes.


GOLDSTEIN: So repeatedly, we have made our position clear, these are acts that are impermissible under international law.

In this report, however, we are focusing on the rank discrimination that Palestinians face. And if you take just one example of a policy implemented on the grounds of security, the wall, the building of the security barrier during the Second Intifada, to stop infiltrations of suicide bombers, which is a completely legitimate motive, the Israeli authorities built this wall deep into the West Bank, so as to encompass, not only settlements but a lot of land for settlements to grow and expand.

Meanwhile, Palestinian farmers in nearby villages found themselves completely cut off from their land. There are farmers now who have to leave their land fallow, because they can get permission from the army to access that land, to cross the wall 3 or 4 times a year, at most.

How is this a policy that is all about security?

VAUSE: It's a lengthy report, there's a lot to get through, we don't have the time for right now but thank you for going through those issues. We appreciate it. Eric Goldstein, from Human Rights Watch, appreciate it.

GOLDSTEIN: Thank you, 'bye.

VAUSE: The Iranian foreign minister, caught on tape making some controversial contents. Mohammad Javad Zarif was apparently heard on the leaked recording, criticizing the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard, saying, military action has undermined and overshadowed diplomacy. This is part of a 3 hour long interview from a research project airing

in Iran on Sunday. The authenticity of the tape has not been confirmed. A spokesman for the foreign ministry said that his quotes were, at least, taken out of context.

Leaders calling on Iran to release British aid worker Nazanin Zaghari- Ratcliffe after an Iranian court hit her with a new one-year prison term just weeks after her original 5 year sentence came to an end. She was accused of trying to overthrow the government and she has always denied the charges.

And her family says that Iran is using her as a political bargaining chip. Her husband says there will be an appeal from the lawyers.

The chief prosecutor of Moscow suspending the nationwide political movement of the jailed Kremlin clinic, Alexei Navalny ahead of a court ruling to decide on whether his organization will be labeled as extremist groups. CNN's Sam Kiley has details, reporting from Moscow.


SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A Russian prosecutor successfully appealing to a Moscow court to have the whole movement behind Alexei Navalny effectively suspended.

And this is part of ongoing proceedings to have his movement designated as an extremist organization. The movement's headquarters, in various offices right across Russia, are being ordered to cease all activities.

And on social media, his supporters have said they are ending all of their posting in support of Mr. Navalny, following this court ruling.

This is part of an ongoing campaign, effectively, to stifle his movement. It was very loud across the country last Wednesday, with demonstrations in many cities, in support of Mr. Navalny's then hunger strike, demanding access to independent medical authorities to look after him while he languished in prison.

He is now suspended that hunger strike or ended that hunger strike but his movement faces a temporary suspension but part of a campaign being orchestrated, through Moscow courts, by the prosecutors, to render it a proscribed organization.

If that goes through, and every indication is that it will, it will be impossible for Mr. Navalny's movement to operate at all inside of Russia, particularly impossible for it to be able to prosecute any efforts, at all, to field candidates in September's elections -- Sam Kiley, CNN, Moscow.



VAUSE (voice-over): When we come back, we hear from Turkey's president, responding for the first time to President Biden's declaration that the mass killings of Armenians was genocide. In the meantime, Armenians in Jerusalem (INAUDIBLE) hope for justice. We hear from them as well.

Also, kidnapping for ransom. Big business in Nigeria. One family describes their terrifying ordeal after being abducted and the price for freedom.


VAUSE: The reaction from Turkey was not unexpected, slamming the U.S. president for labeling the mass killings of Armenians during World War I as genocide.


Speaking on Monday, President Erdogan said the description is baseless, unsubstantiated, and contradicted fact. Mr. Biden on Saturday became the first U.S. president to officially recognize the massacre of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire as a genocide. Turkey's leader is now warning already fraught relations with the U.S. will be further strained.


RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, TURKISH PRESIDENT (through translator): We now need to put aside the issues that poison the relations between the two countries and look at what steps we can take from now on. Otherwise, we will have no choice but to do what is required by the level our ties have fall to on April 24.


VAUSE: Now that the U.S. president has recognized the mass killings as genocide, many say it's time for Israel to do the same. CNN's Hadas Gold has more from Jerusalem, where Armenians have lived for centuries.


HADAS GOLD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Flags fly at half-mast in the Armenian quarter of the old city in Jerusalem.

As special church services memorialize the atrocities of more than a century ago.

After so many years, this remembrance day came with a hope that was fulfilled: American recognition of the Armenian genocide. Community historian George Hintlian, whose parents were refugees of the 1915 violence, said Biden's announcement is a crowning act.

GEORGE HINTLIAN, ARMENIAN COMMUNITY HISTORIAN: President Biden has acted in the spirit of the Founding Fathers of America, and I think this will impact more than others, Turkey, to confront its past.

GOLD: The Armenians trace their arrival here back to the Fourth Century. Around 10,000 of Armenian descent live in Israel, with about 2,000 of them in Jerusalem, part of an intricate patchwork of orthodox Christian communities that have made their home in the city for more than 1,000 years.

For Israeli Armenian activist Harout Baghamian, Biden's declaration has been bittersweet. Because the Israeli government stopped short of recognizing the massacres as a genocide.

HAROUT BAGHAMIAN, ARMENIAN ISRAELI ACTIVIST: I call upon Israel, I call upon the government to put politics aside. This has nothing to do with politics. It's Israel's moral obligation to recognize the genocide as genocide. Again, to prevent it from happening again and also to respect the memory of the victims of the Holocaust and the victims of the Armenian genocide.

GOLD (on camera): This announcement comes during a very important time for the Armenian community in Jerusalem. Not only is it the hundred and sixth anniversary of those mass killings that mine that the Biden administration is recognizing as a genocide. It also came one day before Armenian Palm Sunday, the beginning of the holiest week for the Armenian community in Jerusalem.

(voice-over): A holy week for the oldest Armenian diaspora community, now marked by hope that the American declaration will lead to further justice.

Hadas Gold, CNN, Jerusalem.



VAUSE: Chad's new military rulers have named a civilian prime minister, but opposition leaders are dismissing this move. Albert Pahimi Padacke's appointment comes a week after President Idriss Deby was killed by rebel forces while visiting frontline troops.

Within days of that, a military council headed by Deby's son seized power, but now pressure is growing for a civilian government to take over.

Albert Padacke was an ally of the late president. He did run against him a number of times. Opposition groups are calling for peaceful protests on Tuesday.

In Nigeria, the bodies of two more kidnapped students have been found, making it a total five Greenfield University students killed by their abductors.

Twenty students, three staff members were kidnapped from the school last Tuesday. It's the latest in a rash of kidnappings by armed groups looking for ransom money.

Nigeria's president is calling them barbaric terror attacks. We have more now from CNN's Stephanie Busari.


is a currency Nigeria's booming kidnapping industry trades on. This video, filmed by kidnappers and posted online to pressure families into paying ransom.

In rural northern Nigeria, incidents like these are becoming all too common. The Iliyasu family know more than most what it feels like. In February, 15-year-old Habiba was asleep in her bed when the kidnappers came.

HABIBA ILIYASU, KIDNAP VICTIM (through translator): They fired guns. Some of them came into the school. They came and took us away.

BUSARI: Taken from her dormitory in Zamfara state, she and 278 of her schoolmates were made to walk all night, through the forest, to their kidnappers' camp. What she found there was unimaginable. Four of her own family members, who had also been snatched from their homes, including, she says, her sister and father.

ILIYASU (through translator): I cried, but my sister told me to stop crying, because when you cried here, you got beaten.

BUSARI: But there was to be no joyful reunion.

ILIYASU MAGAJI, KIDNAP VICTIM (through translator): I wouldn't look at her, because I was afraid they would know she's my daughter, and as a result harm her or harm me.

BUSARI: Iliyasu says he was regularly beaten by his kidnappers. One attacked him with a machete.

MAGAJI (through translator): He wanted to cut off my hand.

BUSARI: He tells us they demanded around $25,000 be paid in ransom for his family's freedom.

There's been a recent surge in kidnappers targeting schools. Nearly 800 children have been taken in the past four months alone. International outcry over the Chibok kidnappings by Islamist militant group Boko Haram in 2014 helped make schools a lucrative target.

(on camera): Many of these criminal gangs, known locally as bandits, are not agitating for political or religious ideology. The motive is simply to make money and lots of it. These gangs target every day Nigerians, and many of the country's road networks have become no-go zones for commuters.

SHEHU SANI, FORMER NIGERIAN SENATOR AND HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST: Just in the last five years, even at rough estimate, over $100 million have been paid by either individuals or organizations to terror groups or to bandits for ransom. And thousands of people have also been killed.

BUSARI (voice-over): Nigerian authorities have long denied paying ransom to kidnappers but recently, the president spoke out, blaming local governors for, quote, "rewarding bandits" with money and vehicles. Many say the federal government also has a part to play in improving security in rural areas.

For the Iliyasu family, a moment of relief when first Habiba and her school mates were released and then, shortly after, following more than three months held in a forest, her father was allowed home. Like many others across parts of Nigeria, they now live in fear for when they'll next be forced to pay for their freedom.

Stephanie Busari, CNN, in northern Nigeria.


VAUSE: Ukraine has marked 35 years since the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Commemorations were held Monday to remember the victims of the world's worst nuclear meltdown. Thirty-one people died in the immediate aftermath of the explosion. Millions more exposed to dangerous levels of radiation across Europe. Tens of thousands were forced from their homes.

Ukraine wants Chernobyl designated as a UNESCO world heritage site.


OLEKSANDR TKACHENKO, UKRAINIAN CULTURE MINISTER: The importance of Chernobyl zone is far away, comes out from Ukrainian borders. First of all because it's not only about memory, memorization. But it's also about history, about rights of people.



VAUSE: The abandoned nuclear plant is surrounded by rubble and empty buildings. Before the pandemic, it was becoming an increasingly popular destination for very adventurous tourists.

Still to come, Apple has a major privacy change coming in its latest software update. What does that mean for apps that track your personal data and spending habits? We'll tell you when we come back.


VAUSE: Apple has a new privacy feature which will allow users to decide how apps manage their personal data. App tracking transparency is what it's called, part of an operating update system -- part of a system update, I should tell you.

If an app wants to use someone's location, health information or spending habits, the iPhone will actually ask first. Even Apple's announcement acknowledges that collecting personal information is tremendously valuable for advertisers.


ALLEN ADAMSON, METAFORCE CO-FOUNDER: We will force marketers to think of new ways to better understand how their messages are resonating with particular targets. It will require some adoption. There will be some new technology. It will change things. But it's -- it's not going to disable the market place at all. It's just going to require innovation and a fresh approach.


VAUSE: But companies like Facebook, as well as other social media platforms, are worried the new privacy settings will limit the data they can collect. That will make it less valuable to advertisers.

Thank you for watching CNN. I'm John Vause, and I will be back at the top of the hour with more CNN NEWSROOM. But in the meantime, please stay with us. WORLD SPORT starts after the break.