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tv   News  Al Jazeera  May 27, 2014 2:00pm-3:01pm EDT

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hello and welcome to the al jazeera news hour. in the next 60 minutes, at least 40 are dead after ukraine's military regains control from a major airport from proceed russi russian separatists. egypt extends polling for a third day. >> staying in afghanistan. barack obama prepares to announce plans to keep some u.s. troops on the ground.
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in london we have more news from europe. pope francis declares zero tolerance for perpetrators within the catholic church. pro-russian separatists say at least 40 fighters have been killed in ukraine after government troops fought to retake control of the country's second biggest airport. on monday armed men stormed the terminal on the donetsk stopping flights and leaving passengers stranded. the battle came a day after the new president vowed to tackle terrorists within the east within hours and not months. a warning that some viewers may find the images in the report disturbing. >> reporter: many bosses were missing limbs, a sign the government used heavy firepower on pro-russian fighters in
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donetsk. scores of separatists are reported killed and others are brought to hospitals. this man said around 100 fellow fighters were killed around him. >> translator: there were not many injured left. most of us were dead. >> reporter: the precise number of fighters killed may not be known for days after they strived vehicle positions on the move. government troops continue to chase militia fighters leaving some of the dead behind. the fighting began in the early hours of monday when the separatists seized chrome of the airport in donetsk. they set a deadline and the crackdown came quickly and reinforcements could not turn the tide. many were killed as they were moved around in trucks. one al jazeera crew got caught up in the crossfire.
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they were on the road leading to the airport when shooting broke out. the crew escaped unharmed. the government said on tuesday it had no choice but to act in a region where separatist fighters have declared independence and prevented most voters from going to the polls in sunday's presidential election. >> translator: we just reacted to the situation. the seizure of the airport and shooting at the civilian plane. the result is that the airport is absolutely under our control. the other side has serious losses. there was no one killed on our side. the operation is still ongoing in donetsk. >> reporter: the man expected to be named ukraine's new president in the coming days compares the fighters in the east to somali pirates, outlaws that can't be invited to the negotiating table. but with a government offensive continuing in the region, it may be a while before any talks can take place. nick spicer, al jazeera, kiev.
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>> david is live for you in donetsk. david, a ten few days there. tell us about the mood in the city tonight. >> reporter: well, it's extraordinary. this is a city of around 1 million people, yet the streets are empty. there's a sense of shock here at the scale of the bloodshed in and around the airport that we saw in the operation, which only finished at 3:00 a.m. this morning. many people, many families are grieving, but amongst the pro-russian fighters there's a sense of anger and steely determination to carry on with their fight. many people fear after the new ukrainian president said that the mission will continue that the fighting could come here into the heart of donetsk itself. that's what most people fear. at the moment it appears that the barricades are being strengthened and the pro-russian fighters are getting ready for anything that happens.
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many people fear here, and many civilians fear there might be more fighting tonight. so there's real doubt hanging in the air here, real anger about what happened. a sense of determination amongst the fighters manning the roadblocks to make sure they keep the government forces at bay here. >> david, so what are the wider political implications of what happened at the airport in donetsk? >> reporter: well, i think the mood amongst the pro-russian fighters is one that they're very beleaguered. they fear that the outright victory, the 54% vote that the new president got in the first round of the presidential elections has rather flanked them politically. they're isolated on the political front. they also feel isolated from the traditional support they got from the kremlin. the kremlin seems to be changing its tune and wishing to open negotiations with the new government and with the new president. also, because the military
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mission will continue until the last terrorist is gone in the words of the president, that manes they fear fighting could start on any front in the eastern ukraine. what reaction will we get from the kremlin if we see this sort of bloodshed again tomorrow? will it mean they will bring troops forward to the border again? really everything is hanging in the balance at the moment about exactly what happens as far as a military mission is concerned. where will the fighting break out next, because it's sure to. >> he's reporting live from donetsk in eastern ukraine. to egypt now where voting has been extended for a third day. it's part of a drive to ensure a strong show of support for want front-runner, former army chief sisi. omar bring us the story. >> reporter: despite the buildup
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for the election, a low voter turnout has them extending vote by a day. they have until wednesday evening to cast their ballots. on tuesday voters trickled into voting stations like this. the government has declared the public holiday to encourage more people to vote while extending the hours until 10:00 p.m. local time. some state media outlets suggest that millions of people have voted, describing monday's voting as a great response. >> translator: this day is like a holiday to celebrate the spring and to celebrate freedom from the muslim brotherhood. >> reporter: around 50 million are registered, but since the polls opened on monday, it appears that the youth are absent. >> translator: there's fear of repercussions in the near future. there will be further polarization among the people and highlights the stance among 60% of the egyptian people, which are the youth.
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>> reporter: for army chief sisi who led the coup against egypt's first elected civilian president is expected to become the next head of state. sisi urged egyptians to come out in large numbers. his critics say the selection is meant to legitimize his grip on power. >> translator: he's mobilizing a large number of people. if millions vote, it will give him legitimacy and coup is valid. that's not happening. >> reporter: he urged the youth to support his bid for the presidency. egypt is divided, but those who are heading to the polls believe this election will bring much-needed stability, but many are boycotting the vote while others are protesting. they have been out on the streets in alexandria and suez in what they call illegitimate elections. they say that morsi is still in
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charge. security measures have been tight around polling stations across egypt. the results are expected in a few days, but there have been accusations of fraud and irregularities. this is egypt's second presidential election in two years, and its outcome is likely to keep egyptians divided. >> with us now is tarik mazul, and he's an associate professor and author. first of all, you have two candidates, the only two candidates in the election saying that they're unhappy about the vote extended to a third day. are they sincere, or is this just spin? >> certainly from sisi's perspective he wants to spin it like it was a decision he's not happy with. he doesn't want to look like he's afraid to not get votes.
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so the opponents decision to protest is puzzling to me, but neither side wants to see they benefitted from this departure from the standard practice. >> they declared a public holiday to allow people to vote. they extend it to a third day. we still don't have the official turnout number, of course. what would a low turnout mean for sisi, who is expected to win anyway? >> i will say they didn't just extend the voting another day and make today a public holiday. they have done extraordinary things like waived fines for people that hopped trains without paying for a ticket. these people are going to vote, and we want to encourage them to vote. this looks like the coronation for sisi that we thought it would like last-minute cramming for a final exam. >> why do they care about all this? why do they care about people voting? why don't they make up a number in the past in egypt and say sisi's won? >> that shows you how much egypt has changed, right?
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you can't do that anymore because the people won't stand for it. everybody knows people haven't gone to vote. to come and lie and do the things that used to be done in egypt in the '70s and '80s won't fly anymore. if you're looking for a silver lining for this whole thing, that's one. the other silver lining is if sisi comes to power with a diminished vote share, maybe he'll be more humble as a president and reach out to opponents. >> i was going to ask about that. what would a low turnout mean for sisi's presidency and also for egypt? what impact does it have on egypt going forward? >> he would no longer be able to -- imagine if sisi came in triumphant with huge turnout and 90% of the vote? the kind of president would be very different with diminished turnout and not a lot -- and clear signal that a lot of people are not necessarily happen with what happened on july 3, 2013 when morsi was overthrown. >> tarik, very good to hair your thoughts. thank you very much.
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he's here in the studio in doha with us. meanwhile, al jazeera continues to demand the release of its journalists detained in egypt. they have been held in prison for 150 days. their trial has been adjourned into june 1. they're accused of conspireing with the outlawed muslim brotherhood. al jazeera rejects the charges. a the fourth al jazeera journalist has been held in a cairo prison without charge for more than nine months. his lawyer has filed a third grievance to the attorney general demanding his release. he's requesting a medical report to document his poor health. to nigeria now. at least 20 people have been killed by boko haram fighters at a military base. the attack happened in the northeastern town of buni-yadi. let's go to our correspondent at the capital. tell us more about what happened in buni-yadi and more about the
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area where this attack is said to have happened? >> reporter: it's in the northeast of nigeria, in particular one of the three states under states of emergency declared by the president. it was renewed last week. gunmen, according to residents there and security sources we've spoken to, are saying that the gunmen suspected to be members of boko haram attacked the town once again yesterday evening, attacking a police station, a military base there, some civilian -- some goth buildings there and some houses in the town of buni-yadi. this is not the first time the gunmen have been there. in february the same boko haram gunmen attacked a school there, burned about 59 students in there while they were sleeping in their dormitories in the town of buni-yadi. it's like the insurgents are coming back and back again. this is not the second city or town that was attacked by boko
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haram twice or more than three times by these gunmen. >> it seems that attacks by boko haram are becoming a daily occurrence in nigeria, despite all the efforts that are being done to hunt them and find the missing schoolgirls. you have international observers, foreign observers helping to find the girls. why have these attacks increased? what's emboldened boko haram? >> there are so many theories surrounding that, because nobody in particular can say what is happening or what emboldened boko haram. but in recent times and months since the beginning of the year, they have the death toll to be mother 2,000 to 3,000 in the northeast. residents can tell you that the number could be much, much higher than that. this is within a space of five months, and the attacks are abating. people are expecting that with the deployment of more troops to
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the northeast, with the renewal of the state of emergency there, with the presence of foreign military experts and soldiers from liberia and so on and across the border in neighboring countries, people expected that these attacks will either completely disappear or go down drastic atly like the time when the president of nigeria declared a state of emergency one year ago. initially when the military deployed in large numbers, the attacks sort of abated. people are thinking this could be it. this can be peace. this could be normality. now people wonder what's happening. there are so many military personnel on the ground, and yet, these attacks are becoming boulder and they're becoming more and more lethal to the nigerian civilian. >> it is very puzzling indeed. thank you very much. still ahead on the al jazeera news hour, his whole smile shows india and pakistan vow to improve relations between
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the nuclear neighbors. the western hemisphere oldest rebel group is commemorating the 50th anniversary. i'm in the stronghold, and coming up, i'll explain how colombia's rebel group survived this long. the french open serving up more surprises in the third round. action from day three coming up in sports. chemical weapons inspectors say they'll continue the fact-finding mission in syria. this follows an attack on a convoy of u.n. staff in hama. they were investigating an alleged chlorine gas attack. we have the report. >> reporter: the team were on a mission. they were investigating allegations that the syrian government had used chlorine gas to attack the village in hama province. there was supposed to be a cease-fire in place between the
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government and the rebels so that the inspectors can get to their destination and carry out the mission. but it was not enough. one of the u.n. cars was blown up. everyone on the u.n. team is safe and back to base, but the attack shows the difficult circumstances these inspectors have to work under. the inspectors have to access and travel through areas controlled by the rebels and the government as the fighting goes on around them. >> the fact-finding mission will continue. we really do need to get to at least one or more of these sites where our inspectors can get in and up close a details view on what happened in order to prepare a detailed report. >> across aleppo 50 people were killed overnight. residents struggle to pull bodies from under the rubble
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working with primitive tools to try to save as many lives as they could. at the edge of aleppo seven members of the same family were killed. there's been an escalation of violence in aleppo and dura ahead of the presidential elections expected on june 3rd. al jazeera, beirut. u.s. president barack obama is due to announce plans to leave some u.s. troops in afghanistan. nearly 10,000 military personnel will stay on after the formal drawdown at the end of the year. live to patty coulhane from the white house. what is is president obama going to say and why are troops staying on in afghanistan? >> reporter: the president is going to say they can't risk losing the gains the troops have made, so hard fought over the past 13 years now of combat. so what's the plan afterwards? remember, he keeps saying that 2014, the war officials ends,
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which doesn't really seem to square with saying we leave 10,000 armed u.s. troops in the country. what he's saying is the troops are training afghan forces and at the same time they're going to be conducting combat missions to counter terrorism combat missions. for the public he wants to send out the message the war will end in 2014. what does the troop presence look like? in 2015 there will be 9,800 troops and the following year he cuts it to half to 2900 and those troops will be confined to kabul and the air because. by 2018 the war will be over. he can say that, but he's not going to be president in 2017. >> also, patty, the afghan president has yet to sign the bilateral security agreement that allows u.s. troops to stay in afghanistan, so this is not a done deal quite yet. >> reporter: no, and they're making it very clear. i was talking to senior
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administration officials. they made it very clear no bilateral security agreement, no u.s. troops. the reason they're comfortable making this announcement now is that the public statements of the two presidential candidates that are in the runoff both said they will sign the vsa immediately afterwards, which is why the president is coming out and making this announcement. he has meetings coming up with nato allies. he was on the phone with cameron, merkel and renzi to shore up their support. he wants it implemented with more troops. they have meetings coming up. >> we'll hear from president obama 2:45 eastern time. we'll carry it live here. 19 people were killed in baghdad after a gunman opened fire in a mosque. moments later there was a suicide blast in the same building. it up happened as they started the midday prayer. we have the report from baghdad.
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>> reporter: the blood-stained debris is an indication of how powerful the bomb was. at midday a gunman opened fire at the doorway of the shia mosque in baghdad. another man walked into the packed hall wearing a suicide bomb vest. several seconds later utter panic as they ran. some deaf from the noise of the blast and some in shock. bodies were strewn closest to where the suicide bomber was. even in mourning there's anger for many year. >> translator: the man that looked after me and my family is dead. his only crime? he stood near the suicide bomber? >> reporter: this one has shocked many year. no one has claimed responsibility so far, but the islamic state of iraq last month made a threat that they would attack shia mosques and shia processions. how was a man with a gun so close to the mosque and how was
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he able to shoot a police officer and how was the suicide bomber able to get inside? those questions won't be answered any time soon. every day attacks like this happen across iraq. so far this month nearly 800 people have been killed as a result. the libyan prime minister has escaped unhurt after his house was attacked in the capital of tripoli. rocket propelled grenades were fired at his home. it's the latest violent incident in the increasing volatile situation in the country. stephanie decker reports from tripoli. >> reporter: this court yard has seen it all. music and drinks with omar gaddafi and forced closures when he was in power and now a period of uncertainty. everybody has an opinion on the new government and the body that elected it, the general national congress. >> translator: the gnc's mandate expired in february. they were illegitimate. their objectives are not for the
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good of the country. the people protested to end the gnc, but unfortunately they have military brigades protecting them and we don't want to get involved in a sea of blood. >> reporter: the city was tense with a vote of confidence on sunday with heavy security protecting the meeting. it took around seven hours to get enough general national congress members into the building just to be able to legally start the vote. in the end, it did pass, but it's a decision that is proving controversial. many gnc members decided to stay away in protest. >> translator: what happened from the beginning was unconstitutional. the prime minister needed 120 votes. he only got 113. they stopped the session, but they continued voting. we should have stayed with the old government to prepare for elections in june. i have no issues with the prime minister, but this isn't right. >> reporter: the budget is an issue. many libyans are concerned most
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of the money will go to militias that support the prime minister. many that voted for him have faith he can fix libya's problems. >> translator: i voted for him because we can't go on like this. each side thinks they're the right and they're the only ones with legitimacy. >> reporter: most people here want the same thing. a strong government with an army and police force. they say their country has become lawless and ruled by militias. >> translator: for me the most important thing is that the p.m. is a patriot who will serve the country without taking sides and will work in a progressive way because the situation we are in is pitiful. >> reporter: there is little opt mitch here that things will improve in the near future. people say the hope they had following the 2011 revolution has long gone. stephanie decker, al jazeera, tripoli. the prime ministers of india and pakistan have committed to moving forward with peace talks.
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they describe the meeting in new delhi has a historic opportunity. we have more from the indian capital. >> this is the most significant handshake for over a decade on indian soil. the prime minister welcomed his pakistani counterpart to the house for a closed door discussion that lasted for almost an hour. after the inauguration of him on monday, it was a chance for both leaders to discuss issues such as trade and security, specifically cross-border attacks and the trial for the mumbai attackers, which is dragging on in pakistan. both sides are hoping to improve relations between the two nuclear-armed neighbors. as a gesture of goodwill, pakistani released over 150 indian fishermen it had in its jails. they were released through the border. they crossed into india on foot and by bus relieved to be back home. there was concern for those left behind. >> translator: i don't feel
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much, but i will be happy if all the colleagues were here and released. >> reporter: while many others continue to celebrate on the streets of india, the new prime minister has back-to-back meetings with other regional leaders including the afghan president, hamid karzai and afghanistan's president. they visited the important sites including the mosque and red fort. it was an opportunity to meet locals in civil society. >> we want to discuss all the views between our two countries in the spirit of cooperation and pros pair at this time prosperity. after all, we all want people to overcome the legacy of mistrust. >> reporter: the newspapers say it all. sharif's visit is a coup, and indians hope politicians seize the opportunity to improve the
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relationship with pakistan. whether they can, it depends on pakistan. politicians in islamabad want to be friends with india, but cross-border attacks from afghanistan and the powerful and suspicious military often derail any potential progress of a lasting peace. al jazeera, new deli. coming up opt news hour, cleared for take-off, but was it worth the wait? we look at the middle east's newest travel hub. champions the miami heat on the brink of another nba finals appearance. we'll have more on that in sports in about 20 minutes. please stay with us. ease stay with us. i'd like to think of this show as a watch dog about the
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welcome back. the ukraine government says the forces are in control of donetsk airport in the east. pro-russian separatists stormed the building early montana morning. at least 40 have been killed in the fighting. egypt's presidential election is extended to a third day. tuesday was declared a holiday
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to make it easier for egyptians to cast their ballots. sisi is predicted to win. at least 20 people have been killed by boko haram fighters at a military base in nigeria. the attack happened in the northeastern town of buni-yadi. let's return to the top story and the situation in eastern ukraine. joining us from washington, d.c. is the deputy director of the american institute in ukraine. thank you for being on al jazeera once again. ha do you make of what happened at the donetsk airport. the newly elected president is taking a hard line against the separatist movement in the east. can they resist the ukrainian military? >> i think they can. this stems from the newly elected president who represents people in the west and center part of ukraine, not so much people in the east and south.
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it's a rather puzzling thing if he wants to put ukraine back together and work out an arrangement with the russians, this is a strange way to go about it. >> we know that russian troops have withdrew from the border regions. if we see the crackdown intensify, do you think we might see a russian intervention? >> i think that's unlikely. russia is essential to stabilizing ukraine economically. donetsk is a city of million people. he can't think they're going to conquer donetsk by force of arms. dozens of people have been killed in these attacks. these are local boys. this is going to rile up a lot of negative sent my towards the administration even though he hasn't taken office and he's not
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directly in charge yet. >>. >> he seems to extend a hand to the russians and wants to talk with them. do you think compromise is possible with moscow? >> absolutely. it's going to have two elements. one is an international compromise with the ukraine and federalization and the status of the russian language. it should be neutral and has to have a balance of trade and financial arrangements between europe and russia. the violence doesn't advance the ball in that direction. >> thanks for joinings. ifrments more european news now. the european union has become
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too big, bossy and interfering. that's the british prime minister's assessment as he and other leaders gathered in brussels as the rise of eu parties in continent-wide elections. more on that from felicity barr in london. >> those election results will make interesting conversations for david cameron and the eu leaders on friday night. they swept two unprecedented victories from france, britain and denmark. live now to brussels and simon mcgregor with the latest for us. these eu leaders are looking for a response to this obvious voter frustration. can they find one, do you think? >> reporter: well, that's going to be a tough challenge for people like david cameron, francois hollande, and the dan niche prime minister and others. for examp
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frankly they have suffered a rise in these countries in these elections of parties who are anti-euro skeptic and call them what you will. they want less europe and not more. it was interesting to note as the leaders arrived they've been sitting out in the last 24 hours since the results became apparent to them. i am sure there's interesting exchanges around the table behind me somewhere in the bowels of this building, felicity, of people demanding change and reform. they're going back to their electorates to say, i told you can fix europe. here i am. this is what david cameron said earlier in evening. >> we need change and an approach on what happens on growth and jobs and not try to do so much. we need an approach that recognizes that brussels got too big and bossy and interfering. >> there is also this first floor battle for the eu commission presidency. >> reporter: yeah.
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on the surface it's a technical inside baseball issue, but it means a lot because the leaders silth sitting around the table discuss the general policy outlines the next five years, how will they fix the problem and reform the eu and then be able to fix all the troublesome issues and elections. that's what this is about in large part. the commissioner, the next president is the guy who leads the commission and 28 ministers of the government of europe if you you'd like, each one from the 28 member states. so it's pretty important because these are the guys that generate the next round of european laws, rules and regulations. clearly, they want the right people in charge. this year we have this interesting debate between the parliamentment and the council and the european leaders. it's the parliament that recommended candidates wants to reflect the democratic mandate
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in sunday's election. they have a couple of people who are candidates, one for the center right and one for the center left. it's clear that kwieft of the heads of the government having their dinner behind me don't like either choices because i don't think they will deliver the changes that they so desperately need. plenty of room for maneuver and horse trading over who gets to head the commission, but they don't have to do it for a while. the enld of june is the deadline. they can stretch it out i understand until october. >> that may be a deadline that is yet to come, but of course all the eu leaders are expected to speak when they exit those meetings. any ideas when that might be, we might hear something from the meeting? >> reporter: no. it's not entirely clear each one of them will say something. we're waiting to find out if the key players break cover and do that. one veteran brussels watcher told me that they won't necessarily run into a late night because in typical eu
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fashion they don't have to make any concrete decisions. this is a clearinghouse, a chance for these people many battered and bruised by election results to vent their frustration and float ideas on how to make europe work better for them and their political challenges back home. lots of ideas thrown around the table. they don't have to decide anything now, so it's not clear when that will break up. we'll let you know as soon as it does. >> it's interesting to see what they have to say. thank you, simon. french police are planning to clear migrant camps in the north following a disease outbreak. every year thousands of people try to cross the english channel to reach britain. al jazeera is there. >> we're in one of the many camps here in calais, and i can show that people are trying to keep warm as best they can, burning bits of wood from the railways here. there are hundreds of refugees from all over the world, including syria.
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we get to speak to this gentleman over here. what's your name and where are you from? >> i'm from syria. >> reporter: houng have you been here? >> a year. >> where would you like to go? >> i want to go to england. >> does your family live there? >> yes, my brother and family lives there. i can't name them. in france i can't take my family after maybe one year or two years. >> so you can't take your family in france. we can see where you're sleeping right now. quite a few of you in there. four people in this tiny tent. there are many people in this situation here, and the problem is that possibly in the next 24 hours this camp will be bulldozed by the local authorities who say there is a skin disease which is spreading, so they have to close it down for health reasons. now, these people say they have absolutely nowhere to go.
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local authorities here in calais say they will take the most vulnerable people about 100 kilometers away to a safer area. now, this is a place where people have come, some of them have come from the horn of africa, fled war and human rights abuses, and some of them are from syria and some from afghanistan. many people here say they don't want to be here in france. they want to be in the u.k. they don't want to get asylum here, but unfortunately for them, they have the english channel and they cannot cross the u.k. and the u.k. won't accept them. for now they're stuck here in calais and really have nowhere to go. the leader of the catholic church compared the crimes of pedophile priests to a satanic act. he had a promise of zero tolerance for the perpetrators in the church. he will meet abuse victims at the vatican next month. we have the report. >> reporter: promising more action on the sexual abuse to
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children, flying back to rome from his middle east visit pope francis had his toughest words yet for pedophile priests. >> translator: the priest who does this betrays the body of the lord. a priest needs to lead children to sanctity, and children trust him. instead of leading them to sanctity, he abuses them, and this is terrible. it's like a satanic mass. i'm make a comparison. >> reporter: pope francis has been criticized for failing to express personal solidarity with them. he anoupsed for the first time he'll meet a small group at the vatican in early june. >> translator: there will be a mass with six to eight people abused, and after that they will have a meeting with me. there will be eight of them with cardinal o'malley, who is on that commission. on this issue we must go forward with zero tolerance. >> reporter: last month cardinal o'malley said he'd recommend negligent catholic clerics be held accountable regardless of
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their rank. the church's prosecutors claim to handle more than 3,000 abuse cases over the pabst decades. 848 priests have been defrocked and expelled from nir positions and more than 250,000 have been ordered to lead a life of prayer pour penance. the united nations push lished a report that accused the vatican putting the reputation of the church over the protection of child victims. some campaigners say the real sign the vatican is dealing with the problem will be criminal prosecutions and some sort of financial gesture. >> it's great that the pope has said these things, but he needs to translate that into action handing over information about priests and clergy who have abuszed or allegedly abused. more than that, i think that the church, which is a very, very wealthy institution should make available funds to organizations such as the one i work for which works with victims and survivors every single day.
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>> reporter: still, this is the strongest language from any pope. language that raises expectations of new vigor when it comes to punishing pedophile priests and their protectors. that brings us up to date with the latest in europe. let's go back to doha now. thank you very much. a reminder we're awaiting to hear from u.s. president barack obama at the white house on the future of u.s. troops in afghanistan. an address that will come a few days after his surprise visit to afghanistan. obama expected to announce that some u.s. troops will stay in afghanistan beyond 2014. we'll bring that to you live as it happens. the u.n. security council is set to vote on a resolution to refocus its miss in south sudan towards preblthsing civilians. the u.n. says thousands have been targeting in killings since the beginning of the year. they say many atroscities could amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.
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malcolm webb has more from one of the areas worst affected by fighting. >> reporter: this woman and her family have to live in this flooded, muddy camp for displaced people. they're safer here than in their nearby hometown in south sudan. in february she was shelt erg the town's hospital when rebel fighters attacked. >> translator: there was a fighter, a tall one pointing at women and telling the others to rape them. afterwards, they would kill them. they killed many. >> reporter: the town has changed hands six times since the fighting started in december. residents say both government troops and opposition forces killed people in their homes, often targeting them for their ethnicity. many people ran to churches and the u.n. base. hundreds were sheltering here in the hospital. they thought they would be safe. they say rebels attacked on several occasions and got
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everything of value and everything in the war has been destroyed. survivors said many were beat and killed. some patients bed-ridden were shot dead. it's one of many instances where civilians were targeted across the country. the u.n. says both sides may be responsible for crimes against humanity. secretary-general ban ki-moon says there needs to be justice. the u.s. has called for justice, too. it's a key political and financial supporter of south sudan. nobody has ever faced justice for the many atroscities committed in conflicts here going back for decades. >> one of the reasons possibly that there have been so many crimes committed is because no one has been held accountable, and i think for going forward in south sudan, as you said, with the level of atroscities that have been committed, now is the time for justice to prevail. >> reporter: meanwhile, nearly a million that fled the violence are stuck in the camps. the u.n. says south sudan's
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justice system may not be adequate, and the international tribunal will depend on the security council. she said it's difficult to find the men she saw killing and raping, but she hopes something will stop the violence so they can be safe to go home. malcolm webb, al jazeera, south sudan. and welcome to special coverage on al jazeera america. i'm david shuster live in new york. in a few minutes you're looking at a live picture right now of the white house rose garden where president obama is a few moments away from stepping into the rose garden and announcing his plans for america's military withdrawal from afghanistan. at the moment the united states is 32,000 troops in the country, and the president plans to reduce that to less than 10,000 by the end of the year. let's listen to the president. >> good afternoon, everybody. as you know, this weekend i traveled to afghanistan to thank our men and women in uniform and our deployed civilians on behalf
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of a grateful nation for the extraordinary sacrifices they make on behalf of our security. i was also able to meet with our commanding general and ambassador to review the progress we've made. today i'd like to update the american people on the way forward in afghanistan and how this year we will bring america's longest war to a responsible end. the united states did not seek this fight. we went into afghanistan out of necessity after our nation was attacked by al qaeda on september 11th, 2001. we went to war against al qaeda and its extremist allies with the strong support of the american people and their representatives in congress. with the international community and our nato allies, and with the afghan people, who welcomed the opportunity of a life free from the dark tyranny of
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extremism. we have now been in afghanistan longer than many americans expected. make no mistake, thanks to the skill and sacrifice of our troops, diplomats and intelligence professionals, we have struck significant blows against al qaeda's leadership. we have eliminated osama bin laden. we have prevented afghanistan from being used to launch attacks against our homeland. we've also supported the afghan people as they continue the hard work of building a democracy. we've extended more opportunities to their people including women and girls, and we've helped train and equip their own security forces. now we're finishing the job we started. over the last several years we worked to transition security responsibilities to the afghans. one year ago afghan forces assumed the lead for combat
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operations. since they they continue to grow in size and strength while making huge sacrifices for their country. this transition has allowed us to steadily draw down our own forces from a peak of 100,000 u.s. troops to roughly 32,000 today. 2014, therefore, is a pivotal year. together with our allies and the afghan government, we have agreed that this is the year we will conclude our combat mission in afghanistan. this is also a year of political transition in afghanistan. earlier in spring afghans turned out in the millions to vote in the first round of their presidential election. defying threats in order to determine their own destiny. in just over two weeks they will vote for their next president. afghanistan will see it's first
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democratic transfer of power in history. in the context of this progress having consulted with progress and the national security team, i determined the nature of the commitment that america is prepared to make beyond 2014. our objectives are clear. disrupting threats posed by al qaeda, supporting afghan forces, and giving the afghan people the opportunity to succeed as they stand on their own. here's how we'll pursue those objectives. first, america's combat mission will be over by the end of this year. starting next year, afghans will be fully responsible for securing their country. american personnel will be in an advisory role. we will no longer patrol afghan cities or towns, mountains or
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valleys. that is a task for the afghan people. second, i've made it clear that we're open to cooperating with afghans on two narrow missions after 2014. training afghan forces and supporting counterterrorism operations against the remnants of al qaeda. today i want to be clear about how the united states is prepared to advance those missions. in the beginning of 2015, we will have approximately 98,000 u.s. -- let me start that over just because i want to make sure we don't get this written wrong. at the beginning of 2015, we will have approximately 9800, 9,800 u.s. service members in different parts of the country together with our nato allies and other partners. by the end of 2015, we will have
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reduced tra that presence by roughly half and will have consolidated our droops in kabul and bagrum airfield. one year later by the end of 2016, our military will draw down to a normal embassy presence in kabul with a security assistance component, just as we've done in iraq. even as our troops come home, the international community will continue to support afghans as they build their country for years to come. our relationship will not be defined by war. it will be shaped by our financial and development assistance as well as the diplomatic support. our commitment to afghanistan is rooted in the strategic partnership we agreed to in 2012, and this plan is consistent with discussions we've had with nato allies. just as our allies have been
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with us every step of the way in afghanistan, we expect that our allies will be with us going forward. third, we will only sustain this military presence after 2014 if the afghan government signs the bilateral security agreement that our two governments have already negotiated. this agreement is essential to give our troops the authorities they need to fulfill their mission while respecting afghan sovereignty. the two final afghan candidates in the runoff election for president have each indicated that they would sign this agreement promptly after taking office, so i'm hopeful we can get this done. the bottom line is it's time to turn the page on more than a decade in which so much of our foreign policy was focused on the wars in afghanistan and iraq. when i took office, we had
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nearly 180,000 troops in harm's way. by the end of this year, we will have less than 10,000. in addition to bringing our troops home, this new chapter in american foreign policy will allow us to redirect some of the resources saved by ending these wars to respond more nimbly to the changing threat of terrorism while addressing a broader set of priorities around the globe. i think americans have learned that it's harder to end wars than it is to begin them. yet, this is how wars end in the 21st century. not through a signing ceremony but through decisive blows against our adversaries, transitions to elected governments, security forces who are trained to take the lead and ultimately full responsibility. we remain committed to a sovereign, secure, stable, and
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unified afghanistan. toward that end, we will continue to support afghan-led efforts to promote peace in their country through reconciliation. we have to recognize afghanistan will not be a perfect place. it is not america's responsibility to make it one. the future of afghanistan must be decided by afghans. what the united states can do, what we will do is secure or interesting and help give the afghans a chance, an opportunity to seek a long overdue and hard-earned peace. america will always keep our commitments to friends and partners who step up, and we will never waver in our determination to deny al qaeda the safe haven that they had before 9/11. that commitment is embodied by the men and women in and out of uniform who serve in afghanistan today and who have served in the
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past. in their eyes i see the character that sustains american security and our leadership abroad. these are mostly young people who did not hesitate to volunteer at a time of war. as many of them begin to transition to civilian life, we will keep the promise we make to them and to all veterans and make sure they get the care and benefits that they have earned and deserve. this 9/11 generation is part of an unbroken line of heroes who give up the comfort of the familiar to serve a half a world away. to protect their families and communities back home and to give people they never thought they'd meet the chance to live a better life. it is an extraordinary sacrifice for them and for their families. we shouldn't be surprised that they're willing to make it. that's who we are as americans, and that's what we do.
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tomorrow i'll travel to west point and speak to america's newest class of military officers to discuss how afghanistan fits into our broader strategy going forward. i'm confident that if we carry out this approach, we can not only responsibly end our war in afghanistan and achieve the objectives that took us to war in the first place, but we'll also be able to begin a new chapter in the story of american leadership around the world. thanks very much. >> president obama in the white house rose garden announcing that 2014 is the year that the united states brings the afghanistan war to a responsible end. the president outlined how the u.s. role will go from combat operations in afghanistan to one of supporting security forces, the afghan security forces that are there and training them as well as conducting some terr
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terror/counterterror operations. the number troops will be reduced to 9800 by the end of the year, and in 2016 it will drop again to about 5,000 with a goal being that by the time president obama leaves office in 20 2017, the united states will have some security forces at the air force base and a few security forces there to protect u.s. diplomatic personnel at the american embassy in afghanistan. mike viqueira is standing by at the white house. the president says the incoming afghan candidates have to aroouf that. any doubt whatsoever at the white house they will do that? >> reporter: both the candidates in the june 14th runoff -- you heard the president talk about it -- have said that they will, in fact, sign that bilateral security agreement. this is obviously something that's a matter of contention with the sitting afghan president, the latest of a series of snub and disputes between the obama administration and karzai. way back in december over the holidays, the white house gave
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an ultimatum, sign that bsa now or risk never having u.s. troops on afghan soil again. that deadline slid and slid until these elections now. two runoff candidates as we said have both vowed that they will sign the agreement enabling the president to come out and essentially put some flesh on the bones of an announcement he made time and time again, david. that is, the u.s. combat role will be over by 2014. what's new? the president laid forth the numbers. there was a great deal of speculation. 9800 by the end of the year. that number cut in half by the end of next year, and finally what the president termed a normal security detail and embassy personnel in kabul. it's no secret that there has been bad blood between karzai and president obama. look no further than last sunday when president obama didn't seem to karzai in afghanistan when wheels were up on the way back to washington. >> indeed. it's worth pointing out that the u.s. military commander the president met with in
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afghanistan over the weekend suggested to the president that he keep between 8,000 and 12,000 troops there through 2014. he's following their advice. the president will focus on foreign policy again tomorrow at a major speech at west point. the clear message from the obama white house is trying to wind down not only iraq, of course, but the afghan war. i'm david shuster. "the system" starts right now on al jazeera america. >> what took place that night? >> my eldest daughter runs along here and she gets her father and says, the young man is attacking sarah. my husband is holding the pistol down at the floor and he says to him, "you have 4 seconds to leave this house."instead of leaving the house, the young man decides to come forward. >> if the state of florida requires the rest of my life in