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Turkey To Work With Pakistan To Help Stabilize Afghanistan; Haiti Earthquake Death Toll Soars To 1300; Storm Expected To Make Landfall In Florida Panhandle. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired August 16, 2021 - 02:00   ET




ROBYN CURNOW, CNN HOST: Hi, welcome to CNN. I'm Robyn Curnow live in Atlanta. So coming up here on the show, the Taliban takeover is complete. How they stormed the Afghan capital without a fight and took their seat in their presidential palace, while the U.S. scramble to evacuate its embassy. Plus, chaos at Kabul's airport as people desperately try to flee the country.

And Haiti's earthquake, a staggering jump in the death toll with search teams yet to arrive in some of the hardest hit regions. As a storm that compound (ph) the disaster takes direct aim at the country.

Thanks for joining me this hour. So, for the first time in almost 20 years, the Taliban are in near complete control of Afghanistan, and if nothing changes, it appears they will be the countries rulers once again.

The militants wrapped up a blistering advance against major cities over the weekend, ending in the surrender of Kabul. Video from Al Jazeera here shows heavily armed Taliban fighters lounging in the presidential palace.

The U.S. State Department says all embassy personnel had been evacuated. They were flown out by helicopter to the airport which has been secured by U.S. troops. But that hasn't stopped chaotic scenes like this.


CURNOW: Gunfire rang out earlier as crowds race to capture a flight at the Kabul airport. They scrambled at the gangplank to get onto this airplane, but for many Afghans, this is a matter of life and death. The Taliban had a brutal legacy on how they've treated women and religious minorities. And Afghans who worked for the U.S. fear they'll be among the first to be killed.

Meanwhile, ousted Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani, didn't wait for all the Americans to leave. He was already gone. He said on Facebook he fled the country to avoid more bloodshed. Well, U.S. President Joe Biden's decision to withdraw U.S. forces

enabled the Taliban takeover and his Secretary of State is defending the decision to leave. Take a listen.


ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: When the president came to office he had a decision to make. The previous administration negotiated in agreement with the Taliban that said that our forces, our remaining forces, only about 2,500 would be out of the country on May 1st. And the idea that the status quo could have been maintained by keeping our forces there, I think is simply wrong.


CURNOW: All this chaos unfolds in Afghanistan. Our international security editor, Nick Paton Walsh, is there on the ground in Kabul. He takes us through the extraordinary events of the last 24 hours. Nick?

NICK PATON WALS, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: An utterly extraordinary day. I think the image of which will be on everybody's minds. The sight of seeing Taliban fighters calmly sat inside what seems to be one of the key offices of now, I think it's fair to say, former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

Calm, being addressed by a reporter from Al Jazeera Arabic, seemingly able to ignore some questions, but at one point, one of the men speaking clearly in English to say that he was in Guantanamo Bay for eight years.

These images utterly startling because that is essentially the seat of power and American money for the past 20 years or so. And there they sit with their weapons, calmly demonstrating how they have walked into the capital city, that frankly most have thought was utterly impregnable to them until a matter of days ago.

It caps extraordinary series of events where in the early parts of the day there were reports of Taliban on cities outskirts, panic over an instance in a bank which seemed to have triggered gunfire. But then, without telling anybody, the president of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani, left the country.

Quite startling, it was 24 hours earlier, he delivered a recorded message saying to everybody that he would stick on to try and get a negotiated solution, but he left with a small number of his own aides. Unclear where he actually is at this point.

He seems to have gone via Tajikistan according to some sources, but he released a message essentially saying he had a choice to stay and try and negotiate or face the armed Taliban who we now see are in fact inside, what used to be his palace.

What next? Well, furious activity in the skies above me of U.S. aircraft. The constant noise of helicopters.

[02:05:00 That is obviously them speeding up their evacuation, air cover, protecting what is now likely 5,000 American troops here, double the number that were being -- were taken back as part of the withdrawal process President Joe Biden put underway. Startling scenes at the airport. People desperate to get in. People desperate to be on the flights out of here.

And certainly troubling a few days ahead as we see how this residual and growing American force accommodates itself alongside a Taliban who, frankly, appear in charge of most of the city at this stage and giving a message of wanting foreigners, diplomats to feel safe, to feel secure, to stay where they are, possibly hoping for border international legitimacy. We'll just have to see what kind of Kabul people wake up to.

CURNOW: Well, Anna Coren has reported extensively from Afghanistan including a recent trip there. Anna joins me now from Hong Kong. I mean, no doubt you're watching all of this like everybody else. Just stunned at how fast the Taliban moved in. It's 10:30 in the morning there on a Monday. Certainly, the beginning of a very uncertain future.

ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Robyn. People waking up, you know, not wanting to venture outside their homes. I've spoken to several Afghans this morning who say that, you know, they heard gunfire early this morning, but other than that, the streets remain quite peaceful. There's not much traffic. Some shops are open.

There's other video that I've been sent from Afghans who are located outside the airport. They made a dash for the airport yesterday. These are Afghan interpreters whose SIV's, those visas to America were rejected.

They have run to the airport thinking that perhaps they could just, you know, get on a flight, plead their case. Well, they were, obviously, turned away. And there are chaotic scenes there again this morning. There is footage of hundreds of men standing outside the airport and there are Taliban members in armored vehicles roaming the streets.

There is a bit of gunfire that you can hear. We don't know if it's from the Taliban. We don't know if it's from the Americans inside. We have to remember, there are some 5,000 U.S. troops that will be sent to the Kabul international airport and the U.S. government announced overnight another thousand will be sent in. So, a total of 6,000 U.S. soldiers will be in charge of those evacuations, to get those U.S. staff out.

We know that 500 of the 4,000 staff from the U.S. embassy have already flown out. That is not taking into consideration the Afghan interpreters who have been granted SIV's. Those who've worked with the U.S. military. And then of course, Robyn, you have journalists, Afghan journalists, which media companies, particularly U.S. media companies, who are also trying to get these people visas.

You know, they have been reporting on this war now for years, for two decades. Many of them feel that their lives are now in danger. So there is a great deal of fear. A great deal of desperation, Robyn, as people are looking for an exit strategy out of Kabul.

CURNOW: Anna Coren there. Thank you so much.

So America's top diplomat is defending the administration's decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan as Kabul's fall, certainly, sparks strong criticism. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is also rejecting any comparisons between the scenes unfolding in the Afghan capital and those scene in Saigon in 1975 at the end of the Vietnam War. Well, Jake Tapper asked Blinken about that on Sunday.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: President Biden is intent on avoiding a Saigon moment, that's a reference, of course, to the hasty and humiliating, U.S. evacuation from Vietnam. But with these troop surge to airlift Americans out of Afghanistan, aren't we already in the midst of a Saigon moment?

BLINKEN: No, we're not. Remember, this is not Saigon. We went to Afghanistan 20 years ago with one mission. And that mission was to deal with the folks who attacked us on 9/11.

JONATHAN KARL, ABC NEWS CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Isn't that exactly what we're seeing now? I mean, even the images are evocative of what happened in Vietnam?

BLINKEN: Let's take a step back. This is, manifestly, not Saigon.


CURNOW: Well, despite those attempts to fend off criticism, the Biden administration is facing swift backlash over the chaotic withdrawal. On Sunday, hundreds of Afghan Americans gathered outside the White House expressing fear and grief over the Taliban takeover. And holding signs that read "Evacuate Afghans Now, America Betrayed Us."

In Congress, Republican lawmakers are certainly going on the offensive and slamming the frantic departure as a shameful failure.



REP. DAN CRENSHAW (R-TX): Well, it's heartbreaking. I mean, it's just completely preventable. It was completely predictable, too. And there is no effort at all to mitigate the disaster. I mean, not at all. There was no planning at all in this.

REP. JAKE AUCHINCLOSS (D-MA): This president had the integrity to tell a hard truth to the American body politic and to the Afghans, that this failed forever war must end.

REP. GREGORY MEEKS (D-NY): I think that the failure here is the lack of the fighting or the will to fight or to continue to fight based upon the Afghan security forces. I think that's where the miscalculation was in all of this.

CRENSHAW: And I want to say this to my fellow veterans and Gold Star families. Your sacrifices were not in vain. You kept America safe for 20 years. What did we get out of all of that? We prevented 9/11's from happening.


CURNOW: Laurel Miller, director of the International Crisis Group Asia Program joins me now from Washington. Laurel, hi. Great to have you on the show. I do want to get your opinion on all these various thoughts about what's taken place.

How clumsy has it been, shambolic has it been, in terms of what could have been done? Or do you think the Biden administration and the Pentagon just had their hands tied and this messiness that we have seen was inevitable no matter when it was done?


CURNOW: Tied politically, perhaps from previous president's decisions, for example, the Trump decision to negotiate with the Taliban.

MILLER: That changed the context, certainly. It reinforced the Taliban perception that the Americans were going to leave, and that they simply needed to wait a little longer for that to happen.

I have no doubt that if President Biden had judged that stay in Afghanistan was important to U.S. national security interests, that agreement with the Taliban that President Trump concluded would not have stood in his way. This was not an international treaty. It was not anything that the United States couldn't just brush aside, if it judge that it was in the U.S. national security interests to stay. And that was not President Biden's judgment.

I think to a certain extent, the messiness was inevitable, that there was no neat and tidy way to pull out after all of these years there. And given the weaknesses on the Afghan government side, I do think that on some of the issues such as getting out all of the interpreters and others who worked with and for the United States over these years, it's pretty clear that more could have been done in advance to prepare for that and it doesn't seem that there was really a plan in place at the time to withdraw commenced.

So, that is, I think a very unfortunate piece of this, but look, there is no neat and tidy way to close down the largest embassy in the world in a landlocked country. That was always going to be messy.

CURNOW: Taliban 2.0. What can you extrapolate about, at least, these initial comments they have made? They've also been besides being very strategic, they've clearly had a coordinated plan to get them to where they are now.

They've been extremely effective in the messaging and the propaganda as they've moved. How do you see them 20 years on now leading Afghanistan? What are the clues you've been getting about some of the comments that they've made so far?

MILLER: They, are so far saying the kinds of things that you would hope that they would say in the current circumstances. Stay calm. We'll be responsible. There won't be revenge killings. No one should be afraid.

You know, whether they -- aside from the -- whether they genuinely mean that, and they may, or at least some of them may, there is very much an open question as to whether they can hold their own fighters and commanders to that.

You've got a lot of people who -- in the Taliban movement and the ranks of the fighters who are feeling victorious now. And the idea that they are going to be as restrained as the Taliban messaging is suggesting they should be. I don't expect to see that. I think there is a high risk of violence as they do take the reins fully of power in Afghanistan.

How they are going to govern, they have not said very much at all over the years. Even through these years of occasional peace talks, they have not said very much at all about what their political vision is for Afghanistan, how it may or may not be different from the government that they ran in the 1990's and the harsh form of rule that they imposed.


They say they've learned some lessons from the past and what they regard as those lessons, what they regard as mistakes they may have made that they haven't said and there is a lot of uncertainty. We're going to have to watch how they actually conduct themselves now that they have power.

CURNOW: Laura Miller, thank you very much for your perspective. Thanks for joining us here on CNN.

MILLER: Thanks for having me.

CURNOW: So, coming up, Afghan civilians have the most to lose with the Taliban takeover. Thousands have already fled the violence this year. We'll get more on their plight, that's coming up.


CURNOW: We are tracking the latest developments in Afghanistan, a country now without a president after the Taliban took control of the capital Kabul. Taliban fighters as you can see here were inside the presidential palace on Sunday, just hours after former president, Ashraf, Ghani fled the country.


And now the U.S. and other countries are racing to get their citizens out of Afghanistan. The State Department says all U.S. embassy personnel in Kabul were evacuated and are awaiting for flights at the Kabul airport, which has been secured by the U.S. military.

But at the airport, we are witnessing these scenes of chaos. Earlier, gunfire rang out as crowds rushed towards flights in the hopes of leaving the country. Well, former Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani, says he felt that leaving the country was the best choice "in order to avoid the flood of bloodshed."

For that, he is being slammed by critics and former political allies alike for abandoning his country. Nic Robertson takes a look back at Ghani's presidency and the legacy he now leaves behind.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice-over): Long before reaching Kabul, the Taliban were warning Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani, his days in leadership were running out. Rocketing Eid eed prayers in July. Attacking another outdoor presidential address early last year.

But, in recent days, as the Taliban closed in on Kabul, Ghani's silence finally signaled his concerns. His administration, unprepared, just as the Afghan people were looking for leadership and international allies, waiting for a plan.

It was just Saturday with only a few cities left under government control. The rest seized by the Taliban during their rapid advance, that Ghani finally addressed the nation.

ASHRAF GHANI, FORMER AFGHAN PRESIDENT (through translation): I will do my best to prevent this imposed war on the Afghan people resulting further killing of innocent people, loss of your achievements over the last 20 years, destruction of public infrastructure, and prolonged instability.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Notably, he didn't resign. Something that the Taliban had been demanding for months. But said he was in urgent talks with local leaders and international partners.

The embattled president not seeming to grasp. With the Taliban staring down on the capitol, the army not willing to fight that he had little power to do anything but leave. One of the last blows to his presidency, the fall of stronghold Mazar-i-Sharif. He visited the city earlier in the week to try to rally support, which was rapidly eroding across the country.

It's a bitter outcome for the former World Bank employee who gave up his U.S. citizenship after the September 11th attacks to return to Afghanistan to help rebuild his home country. He became Afghanistan's president in 2014 following two terms in office by Hamid Karzai, who lead the country after the fall of the Taliban in 2001.

But Ghani came to power in a contested vote where he was accused of voter fraud. The U.S. eventually brokered a power sharing deal with rival, Abdullah Abdulla, in which Ghani was declared president. One of his last acts before leaving Kabul Sunday, a security call to appeal for calm. GHANI (through translation): I have guided the defense ministry to

take full responsibility for the security of all residents. Secondly, those people that are making noise about rioting, looting, and killing people, we will deal with them with full force.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Ghani's critics who have long believed him to be too controlling, blasted his departure saying he abandoned his country to a dire future.

ABDULLAH ABDULLAH, CHAIRMAN, HIGH COUNCIL FOR NATIONAL RECONCILIATION (through translation): God will hold him accountable and the people of Afghanistan will also judge him.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Afghanistan's acting defense minister tweeting, "They tied our hands behind our backs and sold the homeland, damn the rich man and his gang."

Ghani always had a contentious relationship with the Taliban. They viewed him as a puppet of the Americans. On social media, Ghani said he left to avoid further bloodshed. But in the end, he ran before the Taliban took control, potentially escaping the fate of a previously deposed Afghan president whose beaten lifeless body ended up hanging from a pole. Nic Robertson, CNN.


CURNOW: Well, coming up on CNN, Afghan civilians, of course, have the most to lose with the Taliban takeover. Thousands have already fled the violence this year. We'll have more in a live report from Istanbul.

Plus, the death toll is climbing in Haiti after Saturday's powerful earthquake destroyed thousands of homes. Now, the island is preparing and bracing for an approaching storm.


CNN is on the scene. We have that story as well.


CURNOW: Welcome back to all of our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. I am Robyn Curnow, live in Atlanta. It is 28 minutes past the hour. Thanks for joining me.

So our top story, of course, the race to leave Afghanistan as the Taliban takeover. The militants wrapped up a blistering advance against major cities over the weekend ending in the surrender of Kabul. Ousted president, Ashraf Ghani, has fled the country and video from Al Jazeera shows heavily armed Taliban fighters in the presidential palace.

The U.S. State Department says all embassy personnel have now been evacuated. They were flown out by helicopter to the airport, which is being secured by U.S. troops. But that certainly hasn't stopped chaotic scenes like this. CNN can't independently confirm it, but this video appears to show's crowds storming the tarmac earlier, scrambling to board any plane that will get them out of Afghanistan.

Well, Afghan civilians are certainly already paying the price of the Taliban takeover, losing their homes, belongings, and security. The U.N. says they are already 5 million internally displaced Afghan civilians and more than 550,000 have lost their homes this year alone.

Pakistan has already taken in in more than a million Afghan refugees and nearly 800,000 are living in Iran. About 117,000 displaced Afghans are in Turkey, and Turkey's president says the country will work with Pakistan to help stabilize Afghanistan and prevent a new wave of Afghan migrants.


Well, Arwa Damon joins me now live from Istanbul with this warning from the Turkish president. What more can you tell us?


ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Look Robyn, Turkey's main aim at this stage is to stop another influx of refugees. When it comes to the numbers, Turkey obviously is still sustaining or trying to sustain millions of Syrian refugees, there have been growing tensions between the Syrian refugee population here as well as the Turkish population.

And so Turkey and a lot of these other countries that must be said, their main aim does not appear to be how to actually help the Afghan population but more how to protect themselves. Turkey at this stage does not have a huge amount of influence when it comes to dealing with the Taliban. But what turkey does have is a very close relationship with two countries who actually do wield influence over the Taliban and that is Pakistan and Qatar.

When you look at those scenes coming out of Kabul, those scenes that you were broadcasting earlier of people scrambling for the airport, I mean, it literally brings you to your knees, because right now, Robyn, we're not actually seeing this massive influx of Afghan refugees into neighboring countries, we're not seeing it happening into Turkey. And that is because the land roads, they've mostly been blocked by the Taliban.

The only lifeline is Kabul's airport. And it also needs to be said that the vast majority of Afghan civilians don't necessarily have a passport and don't have a visa to be able to fly out. So those people who are scrambling to the airport are already in the minority, but their choice to be able to leave Afghanistan has been taken away from them because right now it is military flight only. The U.S. Military is securing it, it is preventing people from actually entering and those who are able to get in are literally doing everything that they possibly could to try to get on these very difficult to access flights and routes out of the country.

And the sense is that the discussion really needs to start to shift at some point from these countries who either have a stake in what happens in Afghanistan, are responsible for what happened in Afghanistan, that conversation needs to shift from how do we trap Afghans inside Afghanistan under the Taliban because that most certainly is what it looks like the conversation is right now to how do we actually support those who want to leave?

CURNOW: Thanks Arwa and just update us on some of the information that you've been giving us. We've just seen now that commercial flights have been canceled out of the Kabul airport. That's according to the Afghanistan Civil Aviation Authority. So the civilian side of the airport is now closed. So there is no way even if they wanted to, those people that we've been seeing at this airport to get on a plane because the civilian side of the airport is closed. All civilian flights out of Afghanistan have been canceled. Arwa Damon there. Thank you.

Another story we're following here at CNN and I want to show you this, you are looking at some of the massive devastation left by Saturday's powerful earthquake in Haiti. The death toll has now jumped to nearly 1300 people, more than 5700 are injured. Now all of this comes as Haiti prepares to face high winds and heavy rain from tropical depression Grace, in the coming hours.

That rain could lead to flooding and lead mudslides further, of course, complicating Haiti's problems. Well, I want to turn out to Matt Rivers. Matt is in Haiti, he has been torturing some of the damage near the epicenter of the quake, Matt.


MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're not far from where the epicenter of this earthquake was. And we're here at the rubble of what was a multi storey relatively luxury hotel, in the Les Cayes region, which is where we are right now. And you can kind of get a scale for what happened here. If you look to the right, that would presumably be part of the roof, a part of this building that collapsed into the swimming pool that was there.

If you look further to the left, you can see kind of a teetering set of columns up there that is basically very precariously perched. And then back down here, you can see an excavator that was presumably part of any of the search and rescue efforts that took place. According to authorities, they're very much - there is very much likelihood that there remained bodies in this rubble and yet there's not really a lot of search and rescue efforts here ongoing.

What is ongoing, as you can see people walk behind me here with metal is looting. People are coming through this site, taking basically whatever they think they can sell, metal, we saw a dresser be taken out. It goes to the desperation in this area. This is a very poor part of Haiti that has been devastated by previous natural disasters over the last decade.

And these are opportunistic people coming here to try and take what they can get from what is no doubt a tragic scene, something that collapsed during this earthquake. There are people that have been here trying to help, people trying to look for survivors. That is not the majority of what's happening here right now. What you don't see here are Haitian authorities. There is no Police presence. There's no firefighters.


There are no search and rescue crews here. There's just people from the community and this lone excavator that is not currently in operation. It's very indicative of what we're seeing, as we drive through this area near the epicenter, a lack of authoritative stance from the government trying to help people get control of this situation. Unfortunately, this is the reality on the ground at this moment. Matt Rivers, CNN in Les Cayes, Haiti.


CURNOW: Thanks, Matt for that and as mentioned, a Haiti is also dealing with an approaching storm. Tropical Depression, Grace is expected to bring heavy rain in the coming hours. The head of the country's Civil Protection Agency said he's worried the storm could certainly complicate the rescue efforts for earthquake victims. Well, Pedram Javaheri joins me now. Pedram, hi, good to see you. Just take us through what people on the ground can expect in the coming hours.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Robyn, it doesn't look very good. When you look at the amount of rainfall in store, tropical system of course moving across this region shortly after 7.2 earthquake. Certainly it is one of the worst case scenarios and unfortunately, we know the threat from mudslides, landslides and flash flooding all remain a major concern through Monday afternoon.

We've got a trio of tropical systems, Grace is the one everyone's looking at very carefully right now. And of course, you notice this a very ragged tropical system, as you noted, it is weakened to a tropical depression and a lot of that has to do with the elevated and mountainous terrain across this region. In fact, elevations here rise on the island of Hispaniola over 10,100 feet, and that is higher than mountains across some 37 U.S. States.

So again, speaks to how rugged this particular landscape is. And that often is great news for weakening tropical systems. Unfortunately, coming in on the heels of a quake, that's the last thing you want to see. So this is all essentially happening at the expense of this particular Island. And the residents as rainfall amounts could exceed four to six inches.

Some isolated pockets across this landscape could get up to maybe eight to 10 inches. And we know that tremendous amount of deforestation that is taking place across this landscape, more than 80 percent some estimates put it of this landscape has been deforested. So a lot of that water just hits the ground becomes instant runoff, and leads to additional flash flooding downstream.

And that is what we're going to be watching carefully here for later on this afternoon and this evening. And really, it's going to be a 24 hour event for folks across Haiti as the system quickly pulls away. We expect it to move right towards portions of the Western Caribbean, in model consensus wants to keep it south of Cuba, potentially bring it near Cozumel or Cancun, and then eventually reemerge backcross portions of the Southern Gulf of Mexico.

But you kind of notice what happens here, this sort of interaction will keep the storm system rather weak. And then once it reemerges in the Gulf, we expect it to strengthen back up to a tropical storm, potentially then impacting northern Mexico or southern Texas. Robyn.

CURNOW: Thanks for keeping us updated. Pedram Javaheri there. Thank you. Joining me now from Washington is Andrea Dunne-Sosa. She is the America's Regional Director for the humanitarian aid organization, Project HOPE. Certainly, the situation in Haiti seems to be getting worse and worse by the day as we figure out exactly what happened and the impact on the ground.

ANDREA DUNNE-SOSA, AMERICAS REGIONAL DIRECTOR, PROJECT HOPE: That's absolutely true. It's a very critical situation right now. And the needs are extremely urgent, we have the combined situation of the impacts of the recent earthquake, as well as Tropical Storm Grace that is currently bearing down on the island of Hispaniola, and it's going to be impacting some of the same populations.

So the needs on the ground are extremely urgent, in order to get aid to the hospitals and health facilities that are providing care to those who have been affected by this event.

CURNOW: I mean, coordination is always the key in these sorts of situations. How is that on the ground? Particularly because, you know, the infrastructures we can see from these images is devastated. And many of these areas are already also dealing with a criminality issue, which impacts how you get help to people.

DUNNE-SOSA: Yes, absolutely, coordination is essential. Project HOPE is currently working directly with, for example, hospitals in the heavily affected areas such as Les Cayes to understand what their needs are. Fortunately, communications are still fairly good in the majority of the country. So we can get information back and forth and start to understand what those current needs are.

CURNOW: What are those needs? What's the sense. Sorry to just interrupt but what is the sense from the hospitals that you're getting that they - that they urgently need and what they're dealing with there on the ground right now?

DUNNE-SOSA: Yes, absolutely. Hospitals in the affected areas are completely overwhelmed. They have an influx of patients. There's a lot of traumatic injuries resulting from the initial earthquake that are flooding in and we're seeing a critical shortage of medical supplies, medications, all of the things that are critically needed to be able to provide immediate medical support.

So that's where project HOPE is really focusing our efforts, understanding what those needs are, and helping to get those supplies to those hospitals on the ground.


CURNOW: And of course, these hospital workers, doctors, nurses, medics also having to deal with this in the middle of a Pandemic. How's that complicate things?

DUNNE-SOSA: Yes, absolutely. And it's important to recognize that local healthcare workers are also part of the affected population. Project HOPE has provided a lot of support throughout the course of the Pandemic, and focusing on mental health and resiliency for health care workers, because of the severity of that impact. It's am absolutely critical topic. And that's part of the reason why we're focusing on medical surge support and getting additional resources to these hospitals to help support that local population.

CURNOW: Do you expect the death rate to rise significantly? Or do you feel like the numbers that we're getting now are pretty much the reality on the ground? How much do we know about the impact and the losses to human life?

DUNNE-SOSA: Yes, the death tolls are already running in the hundreds. And we expect that to unfortunately, increase dramatically. We have many populations that have not been accessed yet. For example, the main road going from Les Cayes to Jeremy to the most heavily impacted communities is completely cut off with four different landslides at different points, it's going to take several days. So the search and rescue efforts are actually just now getting underway in the next couple of days.

And unfortunately, we expect those numbers to increase dramatically. I cannot emphasize enough the severity and urgency of this situation currently in Haiti and the level of need.

CURNOW: So what you're saying is that there are whole communities who we know have been hit by this earthquake, they're dealing with either death or severe injury buildings down, unable to get access to them. And then even if you can get access in the next few days, and help, there is a tropical storm potentially hurricane about to hit them. This is - this is just a cocktail of even more devastation.

DUNNE-SOSA: Absolutely. It's an absolutely tragic situation. And again, I cannot emphasize enough just how severe and important the needs are on the ground in Haiti right now, compiling all of these issues, and just recognizing too some of the trauma that a lot of these populations are reliving, based on, you know, past events, including the 2010 earthquake. So bringing all of that together, this is an extremely tragic situation.

And we need as much support available to be able to help support the local populations and the local health system as much as possible.

CURNOW: Well, thank you for all the work you're already doing. I know that it certainly, as you say, every bit counts, we're going to leave you to do what you need to do. And hopefully, you can help as many people as possible Andrea Dunne-Sosa, thank you very much for joining us here on CNN.

DUNNE-SOSA: Thank you.

CURNOW: So coming up now Pakistan is responding to the Taliban's rapid take over Afghanistan and what they have to lose due to instability in the region.




CURNOW: Welcome back. I'm Robyn Curnow live in Atlanta.


CURNOW: Now the U.S. presence in Afghanistan is concentrated at Kabul's airport as the Taliban solidify their control in the capital. Want to show you this video from Al Jazeera which shows Taliban fighters inside the Presidential Palace on Sunday hours after former president Ashraf Ghani fled the country.

Meanwhile, there have been chaotic scenes at Cabos airport, with crowds frantically trying to board flights out of the country. About 6000 US troops are there to secure the facility and run air control operations as evacuations continue. No personnel remain at the American Embassy in Kabul and the U.S. flag has been lowered at the compound.


CURNOW: Meanwhile, neighboring Pakistan says they're closely watching what is happening in Kabul. The country reopened its busiest border crossing with Afghanistan on Sunday afternoon after briefly closed it earlier on in the day, but it's only open for the transfer of goods and supplies and not for pedestrians and travelers. Well, CNN Producer Sophia Saifi joins me now from Islamabad with more on the reaction there. What can you tell us?

SOPHIA SAIFI, CNN PRODUCER: Well, Robyn, like you said, there are two main border crossings between Pakistan and Afghanistan. One is the Chaman border in the south in the province of Balochistan. And one is the Torkham border, which is close to the city of Peshawar in Pakistan's KPK province. Now both these borders are known for being one of the busiest - two of the busiest border crossings in the country, as well as the busiest border crossing with Afghanistan.

What's happened is, is that previously, the chairman border was closed for many, many days because the Afghan Taliban had taken control of that part of their country. Ever since then, sure, Pakistan has allowed trucks to go through containing perishable items like fruit, vegetables, other food items but they are not allowing pedestrians or civilians to come, you know, come in or out of the country for the time being.

Pakistan has fenced 90 percent of its border. It's been very strict on the fact that it cannot accept more refugees into the country. I've spoken to UNHCR in the days leading to what happened in Kabul yesterday. And they've also said that there aren't any plans at the moment with regards to Pakistani authorities allowing refugees into the country.

There have been concerns conveyed to Pakistani authorities about this, but they've said that they might reassess their decision. However, that has not happened yet. The Prime Minister is currently you know, going to have a meeting with the National Security Council at about three o'clock local time. This will include civilian leaders, Military leaders and certain decisions are going to be made about what Pakistan is going to do moving forward.

Pakistan is known to have had a sort of relationship with the Afghanistan-Taliban. Pakistan has voiced concerns about the way the United States has pulled out next door. There's also Pakistan's relationship with China to consider. Pakistan has said that there needs to be stability in Afghanistan for Pakistan's economic prosperity and plans with China's One Belt One Road Project, Robyn.

CURNOW: Thanks so much for that live in Islamabad, Sofia Saifi. Thank you. So the UK is calling for a global response to the Taliban. Coming up why Boris Johnson says it's crucial for everyone's sake to have a united position on the Taliban seizure of Afghanistan. We'll talk about that next.



CURNOW: Back to our top story, the Taliban in the seat of power once again as the government falls and the president flees.


CURNOW: We're witnessing these scenes of chaos at the airport. Hundreds of Afghans have flooded the tarmac desperate to get on a flight out of the country. The Civil Aviation Authority now says commercial flights out of Kabul have been canceled. This all comes after the Taliban swept into Kabul on Sunday taking over the presidential palace.

Several countries are scrambling to evacuate their citizens from Afghanistan. Want you to take a look at the French ambassador relocated to the Kabul airport on Sunday. The UAE says it's working to evacuated own citizens as well as diplomatic staff from a number of countries including France, Canada, Australia, and the EU.

Meanwhile, several major airlines are now rerouting flights around Afghanistan, and more than five dozen countries have signed on to a joint statement urging all parties to let people leave Afghanistan safely.


It says, "Afghans and international citizens who wish to depart must be allowed to do so. Roads, airports and border crossings must remain open and car must be maintained. The Afghan people deserve to live in safety, security and dignity. We in the international community stand ready to assist them." (END VIDEO CLIP)

CURNOW: Meanwhile, the British Prime Minister says it's critical for the international community to stand together to oppose Taliban rule.


BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: We don't want anybody bilaterally recognizing the Taliban. We want a united position amongst all the like-minded as far as we can get one, so that we do whatever we can to prevent Afghanistan lapsing back into being a breeding ground for terror.


CURNOW: Boris Johnson says his government's main priority is to help British citizens still in Afghanistan and also the Afghans who have supported the UK's efforts over the past two years - two decades. Well, that wraps this hour of CNN, thank you so much for joining me, I'm Robyn Curnow. You can always follow me on Twitter and on Instagram @RobynCurnowCNN. I'm going to hand you over to my colleague, Rosemary Church, Rosemary is next after a short break. You're watching CNN.